1844 campaign banner sets world record selling for $185K

DALLAS – An outstandingly preserved hand-painted, double-sided jugate banner from the 1844

Polk campaign banner

Record-setting 1844 campaign banner, touting the Polk and Dallas ticket, sold for $186,000 during Heritage Auctions’ June 27, 2015 auction. (All photos courtesy Heritage Auctions)

Presidential campaign of James K. Polk sold for $185,000 and claimed the world record as the most valuable piece of political memorabilia ever sold at public auction in Heritage Auctions’ June 27 presentation of the Merrill C. Berman Collection Part II. The banner took top lot honors amid more than 350 lots which realized $756,178 and recorded a sell-through rate exceeding 98 percent by value.

“Simply, this is the finest political banner known to exist and fully deserving of a new world record,” said Tom Slater, Director of Americana Auctions at Heritage Auctions. “Not only is this banner historically important to early American political campaigns, it is true work of art unique in the world of Americana memorabilia and American folk art.”

The auction represents just the second time the banner has been seen publically in more than 30 years. It was first shown publicly when it graced the cover of the catalog for the 1984 exhibition of items from the Berman Collection at the Hudson River Museum. The 171-year-old banner spans 76″ x 75″ and its colors and portraits of Polk and running mate George M. Dallas remain vivid and vibrant.

A second banner in the auction is also from the 1844 election and featured Polk in addition to his opponent Henry Clay. A delightful folky hand-painted scene depicts Clay giving Polk a sound drubbing below a soaring eagle holding a banner reading “Protective Tariff,” an issue central to Clay’s campaign. The banner sold for $31,250.

A large, “pewter rim” engraved portrait of Andrew Jackson under glass sold for $20,000 against a $2,500 estimate. Although quite prolific at the time, few remain and larger specimens like this, measuring a full 94 millimeters in diameter, are highly sought-after by collectors of pre-Civil War political and presidential memorabilia. A classic Abraham Lincoln Ambrotype Brooch by George Clark, perhaps one of the most famous of all photographic political badges of all time, quickly surpassed its $5,000 pre-auction estimate to end at $16,250.

The storied Berman collection of pinbacks once again lived up to its reputation as a jugate of Cox and Roosevelt, referred to as the iconic “Americanize America” button, sold for $20,000 despite some minor condition issues. A rare jugate pinback of Davis and Bryan, the Democratic ticket which lost badly to Coolidge and Dawes in 1924, sold for $18,750 and a stunningly-vibrant jugate by American Artworks of Coshocton, Ohio, featuring Wilson and Marshall brought $11,875.

For more information, visit www.ha.com or call 877-HERITAGE (437-4824).

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