Description1860 Candidates: A Spectacular Set of Ferrotype Buckles Picturing the Four Tickets of Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates. The 1860 election is unique in American political history in that there were four viable presidential candidates, each of whom had a different take on issues relating to states' rights and the expansion of slavery into newly- created territories and states: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John Bell and John C. Breckinridge. Political sentiments ran hot, and a wide variety of campaign items were produced for all four candidates, creating an exciting pool of memorabilia for future collectors. 1860 was the first year in which badges featuring photographic images came into wide use. These novel photographic items would add a new dimension to political campaigning, allowing the voters to relate to candidates on a more personal level.
It is interesting to note that the relative scarcity of 1860 ferrotypes roughly mirrors the degree of popularity of the depicted candidates in the North, where most of these items were probably distributed. The fact that a surprising percentage survive in choice condition attests to their novelty value, as many of these new ferros were probably put away as keepsakes.
Offered here is a unique set of eight large ferrotype attachments for belt buckles (pinback versions of large oval ferros were also produced). What makes this set so special is the inclusion of the four Vice Presidential running mates: Hamlin, Johnson, Everett and Lane. No other examples are known for any of these four vice presidential candidates! The set was discovered in the 1960s near Waterbury, Connecticut by the late Peter Shurko, a pioneer political item collector and dealer. Waterbury was and remains today the home of Scovill Manufacturing Company, maker of many varieties of mid-19th century political tokens, shank buttons, and frames for portrait badges. It seems probable that this was a specimen set, and that the vice presidential versions were never ordered or produced "on spec" in quantity. Scovill would go on to provide the vast majority of brass frames and assembled ferrotypes for the coming election. As the company set out to develop this new market, perhaps these ovals were produced as a manufacturing "tour de force" to demonstrate dramatically the potential of this new campaign tool. The set was sold privately to Merrill Berman by Shurko, and its existence was unknown to the hobby at large for many years. The price at the time would have bought two Cox-Roosevelt jugates. This is its first appearance on the open market.
Condition is absolutely pristine. They virtually gleam - in baseball card parlance each is a "blazer!" Owning the set gives the buyer the option of forming four beautiful and unique "jugate" pairs.
Placing a value on this group is challenging. The four ovals picturing the presidential candidates would hammer for a total of at least $20,000 in this superb condition if auctioned individually. The value added by the four vice presidential examples and the completeness as a set is something only the bidders can establish.
The Berman collection contains many highlights, but these ovals were Merrill's favorites, a sentiment shared by your writer. They have long been considered the "signature item" in that iconic collection, and will be so for whatever collector is fortunate enough to acquire them. What more could a hobbyist or investor aspire to than to own the best item in the best political collection ever brought to market?
Each measures 26 mm x 34 mm. As stated they are in brilliant "as made" condition. From the Merrill C. Berman Collection.
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