Begin an antique campaign button collection by learning how to spot authentic vintage items. The buttons, available both online on sites like eBay or Etsy, as well as offline at antique stores and yard sales, range in price from a few dollars to over $100, as of 2015.
Reputable sellers with extensive online review history likely provide the safest way of acquiring these antique buttons. However, collectors are likely to pay the highest possible price for these authenticated pieces.
When shopping at auctions, antique stores or garage sales, general knowledge of button condition and design can help ensure found items are legitimate and not reproductions.
Before shopping, browse free resources like the American Political Items Collectors, which provides a visual database of common reproductions. "Political Buttons" by Ted Hake is a three-volume set of resources for learning the history of political buttons from 1896 to 1972.
Imitation buttons, as stated by the Hobby Protection Act of 1973, must hold a mark indicating the year of manufacture. Unofficial novelty pins also often feature advertisements on the back of the piece or underneath the curl. They may also have painted backs.
Look for items with backs that are plain or covered in paper, and those with crisp image lines; fuzzy lines can indicate a reproduction. Scattered, dull rust patterns are also common in authentic pins.
Finally, purchase from sellers who offer a money-back guarantee to protect your investment.