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Political item collectors to open convention show to public

The American Political Items Collectors (APIC) will host its annual convention July 6-10, and for the first time, will open the show portion of the convention to the public.
Bug pin-back

1896 William McKinley/Garret Hobart mechanical ‘gold’ bug pin-back with spring-action wings that fly out to reveal the candidates’ images, valued at between $200 and $300. (All photos courtesy of Hake's Americana)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Democratic National Convention is not the only assemblage of politically minded individuals that will be gathering in Pennsylvania this year. The American Political Items Collectors (APIC) have selected the Keystone State’s capital city of Harrisburg for their 2016 national convention. The July 6-10 event will be headquartered at the Harrisburg Hilton, near many historical sites.

Attendees from among the club’s 1,600 members will have an event-packed agenda available to them, including buying and selling at a 200-table bourse and visiting numerous local points of interest, from Gettysburg Battlefield to the home of James Buchanan Jr., the fifteenth President of the United States. The focus throughout will be on Pennsylvania’s rich political history, and an all-out effort will be made to engage the public and showcase the fascinating hobby of political memorabilia collecting.

“On Saturday and Sunday, July 9th and 10th, we’ll do something we’ve never done before, and that’s open our doors to the public, free of charge. Even the parking will be free,” said convention co-chair Ted Hake, who founded the York, Pa., auction house Hake’s Americana, the event’s Keystone-Level sponsor. “We want to make this an educational experience for all ages. Guests can browse the sellers’ tables and view a wealth of rare political memorabilia spanning a 200-year timeline, with values from $5 to $50,000. There will also be every imaginable type of vintage pop culture collectible for sale, from comic character, sports and rock music to advertising and World War Two relics.” To encourage youngsters to attend, every visitor under 16 will receive a free bag of political campaign buttons plus a special button created expressly for the event.

“There’s a lot to do in central Pennsylvania, between the world-class museums, historical sites, and family-fun attractions like Hershey Park, the paddlewheel boat on the Susquehanna River, and FNB Field, where the Harrisburg Senators play baseball. As a Pennsylvanian, I was personally thrilled that we were able to bring this exciting convention to Harrisburg for the first time ever. Because the Democratic National Convention will be taking place in Philadelphia, July 25th through the 28th, Harrisburg was the ideal choice.”

Seminars for registered conventioneers will be held on the mornings of Wednesday and Thursday, July 6 and 7. Topics include: leveraging the Web, visual rhetoric and suffrage memorabilia; the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and its consequences; the origins and legacy of the SDS, estate planning, and an auctioneers’ panel discussion of what’s hot and what’s not. The keynote speaker on Thursday evening will be Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Dr. John Milton Cooper, Jr., who will discuss the 1916 presidential election that pitted Woodrow Wilson against Charles E. Hughes.

APIC is one of America’s most respected collector clubs, with a history that goes back to 1945. Its current membership includes three US Presidents, many politicians and campaign staffers; broadcast journalists, and collectors from a broad spectrum of professions.

“Because this is an election year and the world will be watching Pennsylvania during the month of

FDR beer mug license plate

This 1932 FDR/John N. Garner with beer mug license plate attachment is valued at $4,000.

July, we expect the excitement level to be off the charts at our national convention,” said Hake. “Don’t be surprised if you see a very convincing ‘General Douglas MacArthur’ walking around the convention floor on Saturday. We’ve arranged for some incredible impersonators to attend the convention, the ‘general’ being one of them. We also have ‘Dean Martin’ and ‘Frank Sinatra’ lined up to entertain at the members banquet. Electing a new president may be a serious endeavor, but there’s nothing serious about the tone of our conventions. They’re all about camaraderie and a common interest in history and collecting.”

The APIC welcomes new members. For an annual basic membership charge of $38 ($15 under 12), new enrollees can opt to take part in the club’s member-only convention activities, including a banquet, trivia competition, early buying, and field trips (some fees apply).

For additional information, visit or call Ted Hake, 717-434-1630.

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