July 23, 2014

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$11,000 for a Campaign Button Suits Him Fine

John Clark is not your average political memorabilia pack rat. He owns one of the largest private collections in the nation. Watch the video report on why he does it and see his treasures. By his evidence, presidential campaigns don’t run the way t

Matt Nelson | 9/1/2008

John Clark of Tallahassee calls himself a preserver of political history. That might be an understatement considering he has amassed one of the nation's largest private collections.

Clark once spent $11,000 on a hard-to-find 1924 presidential candidate John W. Davis button, which he says was worth every penny.

“There’s really no one preserving America’s political history except private collectors,” says Clark, a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch.

His items range from Dwight Eisenhower golf tees to a Barry Goldwater ginger ale can. But most of his collection consists of buttons.

“Collectors will go to about any great length to get an item,” Clark says.

[Watch the video report below and scroll down for the rest of the story]


He shares this story: Running for governor in 1978, Bruce Smathers had campaign buttons made. But his father, Florida political icon George Smathers, didn’t like the way his son looked, so the button company canceled its production. Clark heard about it and wrote the company for one. Clark believes he owns the only one in existence.

In recent years, campaigns have steered away from traditional advertising in lieu of television ads and powerful media buys. However, there is still a place to remember yesteryear through collections like these.

Tags: Politics & Law, Government/Politics & Law

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