The Republican Party’s new fundraising swag is a throwback: Reproductions of vintage campaign buttons for Coolidge, Eisenhower, Goldwater and Reagan.
But button enthusiasts with the American Political Items Collectors group are upset that the buttons don’t have a disclaimer noting that they are reproductions. They argue that could hurt the resale value of historical buttons.
“Official GOP Vintage Campaign Buttons are here!” the Republican National Committee website reads. “Gear up for 2016 with these collectible pins and let everyone know you are voting Republican in November.”
The buttons are not for sale. Instead, donors who give $14.40 receive a set of four buttons as a gift.
“Anything that’s fake or reproduced, it hurts us overall because it decreases the value of the legit ones,” said Winston Blair, 28, one of the board members for the APIC. “To give them credit, they’re not copying stuff that’s worth hundreds of dollars, but just in general, it’s a fake reproduction, so that’s the problem.”
Blair said it’s fairly easy to tell right now which buttons are which, because historical ones will show some wear and tear. But in a few years, he said it could be harder to tell the difference between the original and a replica.
He also said the reproductions are unnecessary, as some of the buttons are already easy to find.
“They’ve probably spent more having these made than what the originals actually cost,” Blair said, estimating that the originals for the more common buttons cost about 5 or 10 cents.
John Greene, 57, an APIC member who has been collecting political buttons since he was 10, said there are still a lot of original buttons from the 1984 Reagan-Bush campaign, but there aren’t as many from Coolidge’s 1924 run.
“I bet within our hobby, we could collect a hundred buttons of each of those,” said “The last thing we want to do is see those on eBay, especially the Coolidge pin.”
A spokeswoman for the RNC declined to comment for this story.