Fake and Misattributed Buttons

Over the years several companies have produced sets of political button reproductions for advertising or "educational" purposes. In spite of the fact that the Hobby Protection Act, a federal law, requires fake buttons to be clrearly maked as reproductions, few of them are. Also, unscrupulous dealers sometimes scrape off or paint over the markings. Most of the fake buttons are easily recognizable once you have seen the real button, but to new collectors they can be confusing.

The misattributed buttons shown below are buttons which have occasionally been listed as John W. Davis buttons but which are not.

Thanks to Robin and Julie Powell for supplying most of the pictures and helping with the descriptions. They are working on a reference book of all fake buttons which will hopefully be available from APIC (American Political Items Collectors) soon.

Fake buttons


 This button is a copy of an original campaign button but the letter spacing is different. It came with a number of sets of reproduction buttons. Sone have "REPRODUCTION" or "AO-1972-16" on the edge, but unscrupulous dealers sometime rub it off or paint over it.

This is a reproduction of an original campaign button which also came with a number of sets. The original was celluloid*, but this is lithographed, so it is easy to tell as a fake. Some are marked with the year of issue, such as "KLEENEX TISSUES '68" OR "1980."


This is a celluloid button just as the original was, but on this reproduction the printing does not extend around the edge of the button like the original.


This design is similar to the original button but clearly different as it is like artwork rather than a halftome photograph. Most reproductions in this design are not marked.


This is a celluloid and can easily fool an experienced collector. However no original Davis button had this exect lettering design. It is from a set of name buttons sold in 1972.


This is a highly deceptive celluloid copy of the the original. The differences are that this fake one has the white edge reflections in the printing and it does not have the U&U marking on the edge.


This is a lithographed copy of a celluloid original done with much cruder artwork. Easily distinguished from the original.



This is a large lithographed copy of an originally small celluloid button. Easily distinguishable.


This is a large celluloid version of a smaller celluloid button. Easily distinguishable because the original buttons were not in this size and did not have the flag border.


This is from of a set of buttons made in 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial. No original Davis button was made in this design.

*Celluloid buttons are those in which the picture is printed on paper, the paper is covered with celluloid, wrapped around a metal shell and then crimped in the back with a metal collet. Lithographed buttons are those which are made by printing the image directly on a sheet of metal which is bent into the shape of a button.

Misattributed Buttons



This button is from the 1930 campaign of James J. Davis and Francis S. Brown running for Senator and Governor, respectively, of Pennsylvania.


This item was thought for a long time to be a John W. Davis item, but since this type of item was not produced in 1924 and it matches a similar item from 1938 it is most likely from the 1938 campaign of James J. Davis for senator of Pennsylvania.


This item is believed by some to be a John W. Davis item, but no other items of this type are known to have been manufactured in 1924. Most likely it is for some local candidate who ran in the 1920s or 1940s.