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Collection serves as election history lesson

October 20, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
Political campaign paraphernalia is at the heart of Canfield native Jack Dixie’s passion. He has been collecting items since 1968 and now hosts a convention for fellow collectors from all over the nation.

Dixie began his collection at age 13. He credits his grandmother for getting him started.

“My grandmother Margaret Scott was a retired Canfield school teacher when I was young,” Dixie said. “She was a big influence on my collecting interests.”

Over the years, Dixie continued growing his collection and today has more than 3,500 items. He is not alone in his hobby. Political campaign collectors are spread across the nation and as Dixie entered adulthood, he began connecting with others and eventually joined a national group called the American Political Item Collectors.

He rose in the ranks of the collector’s organization and 15 years ago became the host for the Ohio Chapter of the organization.

As host, he set up an annual meeting in a Columbus hotel where collectors from all over the nation could come to buy, sell, and trade political items. That meeting has since been moved to Canton.

“We used to meet in Columbus, but that hotel was made into an indoor water park,” Dixie said. “Unable to find a suitable replacement there, I moved the meeting to Canton in 2008 in the heat of the general election. It proved to be a positive move.”

This year’s event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 21 and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 22 at the McKinley Grand Hotel in downtown Canton. There is a $4 fee to attend on Friday (Saturday is free), but it is open to the public and free appraisals will be available both days for those wondering the value of their campaign collectible. For many local collectors, the move to Canton was a good one.

“This is our fourth year in Canton and we love coming back,” said Bill Brown, a collector from Youngstown who has been involved since 1972. “Canton has so much history to offer. It’s ideal for history and political buffs.”

This year’s event will also be a place for talking about and trading in the campaign items for next year’s presidential election. Having a whole year of campaigning yet to go, collectors are getting excited over the items that will be available.

“Every presidential election the race seems to start earlier,” Brown said.

Brown and Dixie are good friends who know what to look for and the right price an item should bring. When asked if there is a Holy Grail of political campaign collecting, Dixie was quick to reply.

“The Holy Grail of political buttons is the 1920 Cox-Roosevelt jugate. It pictures both Ohio Gov. James M. Cox running for president and Franklin Roosevelt as his running mate,” said Dixie. “This was the only campaign that Roosevelt lost. Twelve years later he was elected president. I don't have one of those buttons, but would love to have the opportunity to acquire one of the few examples known.”

With more than 150 vendors setting up at this year’s event, there is always a possibility that one of the 1920 jugate, which involves two portraits side-by-side on one collectible, will turn up. While some will be looking for that rare historic piece, others will be focused on the present.

Brown said the present campaigning efforts have already produced more collectible items than anyone could acquire. He said he will try to get as much as he can, but to collect every piece from this campaign trail would be very difficult.

Dixie said whether a person is an avid collector, or someone looking to get started, the Canton event will be the place to go. While he’ll likely return to host it again next year, he is also taking on a bigger role in the hobby.

“I will be busy next year as the co-chairman, along with Brown, of the American Political Items Collectors National Convention being held in Columbus in August,” Dixie said. “Then I will be selling buttons in Tampa and Charlotte at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, something that I have done since 1996. Those adventures always prove to be interesting as well as a great opportunity to acquire the current election's buttons.”

Article Photos

Photo special to the Town Crier
Jack Dixie of Canfield shows off some of his prize political campaign items that he has been collecting for over 40 years. Getting his start at 13 years old, Dixie's collection has grown to more than 3,500 items. He now plays host to the annual meeting of the Ohio Chapter of the American Political Item Collectors.



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