Remembering presidential campaigns past
During this election season, Syracuse political memorabilia collector Dick Woodworth is dusting off his mammoth collection of political pins, posters, buttons and coins. For those who wade through Woodworth’s collection, it can be like getting a history lesson.
Woodworth’s collection starts with a coin commemorating the losing campaign for the man who ultimately became the seventh president of the United States
"The oldest thing I have is Andrew Jackson in 1824,” said Woodworth.
In those days, memorabilia was mostly coins or other shapes, like horseshoes, fashioned out of metal. It wasn’t till the election of 1896, won by William McKinley, that the kind of buttons we know today were produced. And after that, Woodworth says the industry of political memorabilia really took off.
"We’ve had ties, and tie clips, necklaces and bracelets, matchbooks, combs cigars; a whole variety of things people would have as campaign items, hopefully that they would wear.”
But a lot of that has cooled in recent years. Woodworth says businesses now want to remain neutral in days of divisive politics, and don’t want employees to wear things like ties that tout “Kennedy for President” or bracelets promising a vote for Richard Nixon. One pin that went over well in Syracuse was produced in 1960 when John F. Kennedy came to town.
“When Kennedy ran, everything was red white and blue. But in 1960, when he campaigned in Syracuse, he handed out buttons that said ‘I’m for Jack’ and they were orange and blue, because Syracuse was the national champion in football”
Included in his collection is one of only 70 of the newspapers that incorrectly declared that Thomas Dewey defeated Harry Truman in the presidential election of 1948. HIs favorite item among the thousands of pieces of memorabilia is poster from the1960 presidential election.
"It’s a very rare poster, because only two times in history have we had men on it that became president of the United States. In this case it was Kennedy and Johnson.”