Episode 10: Inside the Collection
These vintage pin-back buttons promoted everything from politics to cartoons.
Jun. 2, 2019
Christen Carter began collecting pin-back buttons as a young girl. It all started with a single Snoopy button. That hobby blossomed into a business and a non-profit museum, the Busy Beaver Button Museum, which houses Christen’s collection.
Christen’s one-of-a-kind collection holds more than 30,000 buttons, including rarities from George Washington’s inauguration, buttons of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and Prohibition-era buttons.
Certified appraiser Judy Martin valued the button collection for us — and brought along a rare Muhammad Ali button to make a trade. Did Judy and Christen swap buttons? You'll have to watch Collector's Call episode 10 to find out!
1. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Button
Appraised value: $3,500
Christen considers this her most valuable button. And no wonder — Oswald is an early version of the animation empire that would become Disney.
2. Felix the Cat Button
Appraised value: $800
Speaking of classic cartoons, Felix the Cat was wildly popular in the early 20th century.
3. Vintage Cartoon Buttons
Appraised value: $4,500
Oswald and Felix join other vintage comic strip favorites Mike and Ike (They Look Alike) and Keeping Up with the Joneses (yes, that's the origin of the phrase) in this set.
4. George Washington Inauguration Button
Appraised value: $3,000
Yep, this dates all the way back to the founding of our nation.
5. Abraham Lincoln Inauguration Button
Appraised value: $2,000
This brass button with photographic ferrotype inset dates back to 1864.
6. Vintage political buttons
The Mystic Workers of the World was founded in Illinois in 1896 as a fraternal benefit society.
7. Autographed Jimmy Carter Button
Appraised value: $150
President Carter signed this '76 campaign button.
8. Mechanical Depression Era Democratic Donkey Button
Appraised value: $350
Pull the string and the donkey kicks the elephant.
9. Prohibition Era Buttons
Appraised value: $30–$75 each
These buttons from the Prohibition Era promoted both sides of the argument, from the Pro-Beer people to the "Dry" advocates who wore umbrellas to spread their message.
10. Canadian Ace Beer Button
The Canadian Ace Brewery, originally the Manhattan Brewing Company, was run by Charles Schaffner until he sold it in 1919 to Johnny Torrio and Al Capone.
11. Beautiful Jim Key Button
Appraised value: $200
The Beautiful Jim Key was a traveling show horse. His owner, Dr. William Key, swore the beast could read, write, do math, tell time and sort mail.
12. Assorted Turn of the Century Buttons
On the lower left, you can see a button promoting Roney's Boys, one of the first "boy bands" in American pop culture. In fact, this is the first ever band button.
13. Chicago Buttons
Christen's hometown pride shows in her Chicago collection, which includes everything from sports teams to mayoral campaigns.
14. Political Campaign Buttons
Speaking of political campaigns, Busy Beaver has an extensive collection from all sides of past elections.
15. Behind the scenes of episode 10
Host Lisa Whelchel chats with our collectors and appraiser.