This is the third part of a multi-part series on Presidential
campaign collectibles from the Nov. 7, 2016, monthly issue of
Presidential campaign banners, badges, tokens, medals and more from
200-plus years of American elections provide windows into the
quadrennial campaigns and their eras. Depending upon the campaign and
candidates, available items may be abundant and cost only a few
dollars each, or scarce, some costing thousands of dollars regardless
The presidential aspirations in the 1860 campaign of “Honest Abe,”
Republican Abraham Lincoln, were not without periodic acerbic
exchanges with his Democratic opponent, Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois.
Also-rans in that race included Constitutional Union nominee John
Bell and Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge.
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Political memorabilia collectors may consider collectibles
associated with each candidate, as well as their vice presidential
Lincoln and Douglas were no strangers to one another. In 1858 they
had faced off in a series of seven debates across Illinois as Lincoln
attempted to unseat the incumbent Douglas in a race for the U.S.
Senate. Before then, both men courted Mary Todd in Springfield, Ill.
Todd chose to marry Lincoln.
The issue of slavery became the hottest of topics in the senatorial
campaign that Douglas won, but which had also cast Lincoln into the
national spotlight. The issue of slavery would continue to face
Lincoln during his presidency marked by Civil War.
While it is not uncommon today for political candidates in state and
national contents to stump in any small community that will host them,
during the 1860 campaign the tactic was considered somewhat tacky.
Douglas, however, claiming he was taking a leisurely train trip from
the nation’s capital to New York to visit his mother, took more than a
month to do it, scheduling campaign stops along the way.
Lincoln supporters were quick to ridicule Douglas and his tactic.
They published and distributed a “Lost Child” handbill chronicling the
trip, claiming Douglas answered to “Little Giant,” a reference to
Douglas being just 5 feet 4 inches tall. Lincoln was a full foot taller.
The handbill also noted Douglas “Talks a great deal, very loud,
always about himself.”
Douglas, on the other hand labeled Lincoln as a “horrible-looking
wretch, sooty and scoundrelly in aspect, a cross between the nutmeg
dealer, the horse-swapper and the nightman.”
Douglas also once referred to Lincoln as “the leanest, most ungainly
mass of legs and arms and hatchet face ever strung on a single frame.”
Lincoln’s appearance is speculated to have been due to Marfan
syndrome or a related disorder, affecting connective tissue. While no
DNA testing has been done to prove the theory, his symptoms somewhat
match the disorder, an affliction characterized by a tall, thin body
shape, with long arms, legs, fingers and toes.
While Lincoln and Douglas were presidential arch rivals,
Breckinridge finished second in the Electoral College balloting,
despite being third in the popular vote, behind Douglas.
Lincoln collectors have much more ornate memorabilia to acquire for
the 16th president’s re-election campaign in 1864.
Among the pieces are a jugate shield badge featuring portraits of
Lincoln and running mate, Andrew Johnson. An example realized
$56,762.50 in a Dec. 11, 2012, Heritage sale.
Read our entire series so far on collecting Presidential election materials:
The presidential election that
might have been the nastiest on record
: So nasty were the personal attacks between Jackson and the
incumbent, John Quincy Adams, during the 1828 campaign that Jackson
blamed the stress of the attacks for contributing to the death of
The election of 1800 saw a number
of firsts among American presidential races
: The presidential election of 1800 was a particularly
uncomfortable one in political circles, pitting Vice President
Thomas Jefferson against the president he was currently serving
under, John Adams.
Abraham Lincoln faced
more than one opponent in the 1860 presidential election
: While it is not uncommon today for political candidates in state
and national contents to stump in any small community that will host
them, during the 1860 campaign the tactic was considered somewhat tacky.
Sounds like jewelry, so
why was a ‘cross of gold’ not considered a good thing in 1896?
: The hotly contested presidential race of 1896 pitted former Ohio
Gov. William McKinley, a Republican, against Democratic contender
and perennial presidential wannabe William Jennings Bryan.
How Theodore Roosevelt helped
deliver the White House to Woodrow Wilson
: The 1912 election witnessed the establishment of a new political
entity, Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, also dubbed the Bull Moose Party.
Four-time winner Franklin Roosevelt
generates opposition collectibles
: The election of 1932 put Democrat and former New York
governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt into the White House for the
first of his unprecedented four terms.
The 2016 presidential election
hitting new heights, or depths, of nastiness
: Campaign collectibles are trying to promote the 2016 presidential
candidates amid all the mudslinging.