Political collectibles expo to mark 50-year term

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 2, 2017


Vendors of political memorabilia and other valuables are casting a vote of confidence for a local annual expo that will soon celebrate five decades of existence.

The 50th annual Michigan Political and Pop Culture Collectibles Show will take place May 12-13 at the Wyndham Garden Sterling Heights hotel.

Ken Hosner, who has organized the local show for 28 years, said keeping the same show going for 50 years is a “pretty big milestone.”

Besides a wide assortment of campaign posters, buttons and knickknacks from presidential political campaigns, people may also get chances to buy memorabilia from World War II, the civil rights movement and even Disney merchandise.

An estimated 36 dealers are expected to come from 12 states this year, including Ohio, New York, North Carolina, California and Arizona.

They are expected to fill nearly 85 tables with “well over 100,000 items for people to look through,” Hasner said.

On Friday, a public auction will offer 66 selected lots that “will encompass almost everything from the Civil War period up to 2016,” he said.

On Saturday, the expo will showcase the vendors’ collections of merchandise for sale. Visitors are encouraged to bring campaign memorabilia that they own for appraisal and possible auction among vendors, Hosner said.

Al Anderson, who runs Anderson Americana in Ohio with associate David Lindeman, said he has been collecting political memorabilia since 1960 and has been attending Hosner’s show almost since it began. He said the event’s 50-year milestone is remarkable, and he said he has seen 200 or more visitors attend the show in the past.

“This is one of the biggest regional shows in the country,” Anderson said, “and people enjoy it.”

Anderson said he has sold historical token buttons related to former President George Washington, as well as campaign buttons for former President William Henry Harrison dating back to around 1840.

“We will bring posters. We will bring statues. We will bring plenty of pins, and we’ll have some ribbons — a variety of political memorabilia,” he said. “There are always some people who are sports collectors, so you bring some sports material along (too).”

Another vendor, Mark Evans, said he will be coming from Avon, New York — a nine-hour drive — to participate in the Sterling Heights show.

“I will be bringing 24 feet of table and wall space with thousands and thousands of presidential buttons going back to the 1880s all the way up through Hillary and Trump,” Evans said. “You never know who’s going to show up. It’s kind of like going fishing. But Mr. Hosner does a tremendous job on publicity, so we have a lot of people come in.”

Evans said he is the national membership director for the American Political Items Collectors, a group that is involved with the Sterling Heights show. The APIC’s association with the show means that it will only have authentic merchandise for sale, he said.

As a political memorabilia collector for 57 years, Evans said the hardcore collectors maintain an interest in the hobby regardless of whether it’s a presidential election year or not, while the more casual collectors tend to ebb and flow with the political cycle.

He said the hobby also continues to bring new discoveries and finds.

“You can’t collect it all unless you have unlimited space and unlimited money,” he said. “I know there are over 1,000 Bernie (Sanders) buttons, for example.”

New buttons in circulation include speculative ones for future races, including a 2024 campaign button for former first lady Michelle Obama, Evans said.

“There are already buttons for the 2020 election for Elizabeth Warren or Andrew Cuomo or ‘re-elect Trump’ or ‘impeach Trump,’” he said. “There is all kinds of stuff for different tastes.”

The 50th annual Michigan Political and Pop Culture Collectibles Show will feature a 7 p.m. May 12 auction, followed by the show 9 a.m.-3 p.m. May 13. Both will take place at the Wyndham Garden Sterling Heights hotel, 34911 Van Dyke Ave. General admission costs $4, and children attend for free. Find out more by calling (269) 345-5983.