PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A highly prized collection of U.S. political memorabilia went up for sale on Thursday, featuring some campaign tokens and medals that experts say have not been on the market in more than a century.
Unusual ferrotypes of Abraham Lincoln are expected to be some of the most sought-after objects of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection, which is being auctioned by Stack's Bowers Galleries.
Ferrotypes are essentially the forerunners of today's celluloid campaign buttons, except the images are made on thin pieces of iron instead of paper.
In all, more than 2,000 political items are on the block, dating from Thomas Jefferson's election through Franklin Roosevelt's era. The lots are collectively expected to fetch about a million dollars, auction house president Brian Kendrella said.
The heart of the collection involves small medals and tokens of candidates from 1824-1864, between the presidencies of Andrew Jackson and Lincoln. People wore them as stick pins or hung them from ribbons around their neck.
For some, it was the first time they were able to see images of the parties' nominees, according to John Kraljevich, a senior numismatic consultant for auction house.
"It really revolutionized the way we looked at political figures," he said.
Much of the Ford collection, which Kraljevich called the biggest assemblage of its type, has been in private hands for decades. The items' appearance on the market gives them a "dusty freshness" attractive to potential buyers.
"It's kind of a time-capsule effect," Kraljevich said.
Potential buyer Alan Weinberg of Los Angeles was inspecting the lots, including a Lincoln ferrotype, on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the auction. He called it a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to add quality pieces to his own collection of political ephemera.
The sale is being held Thursday and Friday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
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