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!

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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.

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