Auctions | February 9, 2015

1860 Presidential Ferrotypes From Legendary Berman Collection May Bring $30,000 at Heritage Auctions


DALLAS—The only known complete set of 1860 Presidential Ferrotype Buckles—depicting candidates and running mates including one-time-underdog Abraham Lincoln—will make its auction debut in Part I of the Merrill C. Berman Political Collection at Heritage Auctions Feb. 28 in Dallas. The four vice presidential ovals are believed to be the only known examples. This pristine set is expected to sell for $30,000 and is a stand out historical rarity in what is widely believed to be the finest collection of important political buttons, ferros, tokens, and ribbons ever assembled.

"This collection may redefine the political memorabilia hobby for decades to come," said Tom Slater, Director of Americana Auctions at Heritage. "The collection was largely complete by the late 1980s, without the assistance of the internet, and I would not be surprised if its final value reaches $2 million when the entire collection is sold."

The unprecedented collection fills some 150 riker mounts and will be offered in three more major catalog auctions, with additional sections offered during weekly internet auctions throughout 2015. Berman, one of the first 100 members of the American Political Items Collectors, began collecting as a youth but he began to build his collection in earnest around 1970. 

His success as a stock investor and venture capitalist allowed him to pursue the best material available, such as a marvelous Full-Color Jugate Eclipse Button, depicting candidates William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson, eclipsing the opposing McKinley-Roosevelt ticket and playing on a total eclipse of the sun that occurred during the 1900 campaign (est. $15,000+). A rare Jugate Ribbon with unique portraits of Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin made for the Wide Awakes organization of Lincoln parade marchers is the only ribbon of its kind known to exist (est. $12,000+).

Sought-after pinbacks in immaculate condition of large-size pinbacks include a 2-1/4" Red, White and Blue Jugate featuring Warren G. Harding & Calvin Coolidge, considered the best from the 1920-24 era (est. $12,000+) and a 1-1/4" Jugate, retaining vivid design and photographs of Charles Evans Hughes and his running mate Charles W. Fairbanks for the 1916 election (est. $10,000+). 

Rarities include an iconic, 1-1/4-inch Calvin Coolidge pinback urging voters to "Keep Him at the Helm," which depicts the 1924 Presidential candidate in the center of a ship's wheel (est. $10,000+), and a large "donut" ferrotype of Abraham Lincoln, a rare and desirable survivor from the 1860 election and the finest known to exist (est. $8,000+).

An elusive Horace Greeley 1872 Campaign Ribbon in superb condition survives as a rare bit of memorabilia from his failed campaign against Ulysses S. Grant (est. $8,000+). An exceedingly rare 7/8-inch Jugate for the 1924 Presidential campaign of John W. Davis and his running mate Charles W. Bryan is highly sought after among collectors (est. $8,000+). 

Heritage Auctions' 374-lot presentation of Part I of the Merrill C. Berman collection takes place Feb. 28 in Dallas and online at Catalogs may be ordered by calling 800-872-6467 and asking for the Catalog Order Desk. More on this stunning collection may be found online and a special essay on the collection by Mr. Slater may be found here.

Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $900 million, and 900,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit

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