Pinback Buttons: from Politics to Activism

Stop Lynching, Vintage Pinback Button

Stop Lynching part of the 1930s Civil Rights movement. Image Credit Hake`s

Pinback buttons have been around and used for hundreds of years – literally hundreds of years; the first patented pin was made in the United States in 1896! Pinback buttons have mainly had a political application being used to promote a political candidate and their slogans, but the last few decades we’ve seen them used for activism such has the civil rights movement, saving the rainforests & many other causes, like the equal rights to marry.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling making on equal marriage rights, making it a right across the United States, I wanted to share some pinback buttons that others have made to help the cause and that promote equality for the LGBTQ community.

Pinback Buttons might not be able to directly change the world, but they can help by making it easier for you to be heard!!

Rainbow LGBTQ Pride Flag button by ThatLovelyBrooch

Foster Equality, Vintage Button found on Ebay

Rainbow Run, vintage 1990s Pin, found on Etsy

Rainbow Run, vintage 1990s Pin, found on Etsy



Gay Pride Buttons made by Mehoi

Various LGBTQ Pins made by Mehoi in Toronto

Ally - Rainbow Pride button

Ally Pride Button made by The Little Kangaroo

LGBT Rainbow flag button by ThatLovelyBrooch

YES, Marriage Equality

Yes to Marriage Equality Pins by PointyPins

Button Collection!

Buttons are not just a novelty they are a physical representation of your cause, your brand and your social ideas!

Photos of Crysta's button collectionIf you’ve ever questioned whether or not buttons or a button maker would be a good investment, people will keep the pins long after an event and remember your cause or brand–we’ve got the answer. They will! We had the pleasure of borrowing Crysta’s button collection (our 1” Button Guru here at BB!). These are from Canada mostly and we decided to highlighted a few interesting ones…

Collection of buttons, Elmer's Glue & South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority Bottom Left: Elmer and I never forget button – Elmer the safety elephant mascot was an attempt to teach young children street and road safety. The character began in 1947, in Toronto. The illustration you see was done by Charles Thorson.
Next to the Elmer’s pin, we have the South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority which started around 1951 in order to, well, conserve. Mostly water!

Vote Carly Button from SCI HighschoolSCI’s SAC BALLOT button – This one is from Crysta’s time at high school when her friend Carly was running for class president

Canada’s fitweek 1988 pinback button Canada’s fitweek 1988 button – As the button says, it was held on May 20th 1988 by Fitness Canada. 7.5 Million Canadians nationwide participated.

Let’s Talk Jerky & Federal Express Olympics buttonTop Right: Let’s Talk Jerky! button – We’re not sure of the origins of this one but we are sure that they wanted to talk to you all about jerky 🙂 Mmmm…Bottom Right: Federal Express Olympics button – Always interesting to see a big brand’s progression from one name to another. This was for the 1988 Olympics before Federal Express rebranded to FedEx!
Top middle: Anyone else remember KMart?

Red Rocket Button & OthersTop Left: Ride the Red Rocket Toronto button – Did you know Toronto, Canada has a huge streetcar network? It started way back in the 1860s with horse drawn carriages and quickly grew to electric powered streetcars. This button makes memory of the beloved red rockets.

Buttons are like diamonds, with proper care they can last forever. Keeping your cause, brand or social idea in mind-decades later!!

  • Keeping them from getting rusty by avoiding unnecessary moisture
  • Keep out of direct sunlight to avoid your colours bleaching
  • For the button maker, start with good quality materials like ButtonBiz parts, acid free paper and high quality inks
    All these will help with the longevity of your pins!

So do you have a button collection, what is your favourite? Share in the comments below!! 🙂
– Megan // Bayleaf Buttons

How to Determine the Value of a Political Button

It can be difficult to determine the value of a political button. The folks over at WorthPoint have done a story and video about political buttons. The video below is very interesting and features a wide variety of political buttons. There were thousands and thousands of Obama and McCain buttons made for the 2008 Presidential Campaign. It will probably be years before most of these buttons will be worth more than a few dollars.

Here are a few points to consider when determining the value of a political button:

  1. How rare is the button.
  2. Was the button available to the general public or was it just available to a select group of people?
  3. Buttons from the early years of a politicians career are much more valuable than the later years. For example, buttons from President Barack Obama’s run for the State Senate in Illinois are currently more valuable than most of his presidential campaign buttons.
  4. Buttons that are unusual are usually more valuable than conventional buttons.

What Makes a Political Button Valuable? – WorthPoint

Harvey Milk Political Buttons

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in U.S. history.

Sean Penn portrays Harvey Milk in the Oscar nominated film Milk.

A political junkie and button collector sent a note to Ken Rudin of NPR bragging about his Harvey Milk campaign buttons.  Well, Ken Rudin is a political junkie and collector himself and posts pictures of his Harvey Milk campaign buttons.

Head on over over to NPR to see some Harvey Milk political buttons.

APIC National Convention

Today is the last day of the 2008 American Political Items Collectors National Convention in Las Vegas.

The New York Times wrote an interesting story about the event and some of the people that attend it.  Buttons are not the only political memorabilia collected – you have a Mike Huckabee guitar pick and even a Hillary Clinton change purse.

There is also slideshow of the event available from The New York Times.

Unique Theodore Roosevelt Button

There is a unique Theodore Roosevelt button for sale on ebay.  It’s not your typical round button.  It features a mechanical mouth that opens up at the bottom.

There is quite a bit of interest in this little button.  With less than a day left in the auction, the bidding is up to over $800.