Leibman collection of buttons, stamps, and coins
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
This collection contains over 750 buttons, pins, stamps, and coins that date from 1820 to 1978. The buttons reflect political, cultural and social movements during this time span, and document businesses; organizations including social groups, service groups, and unions; local and national campaigns for a variety of elected officials from alderman to president; event memorabilia; famous individuals; and military groups. While the bulk of the items are from the United States, researchers will find items from across the globe.
This collection contains a wide variety of buttons, stamps, and coins collected by David. J. Leibman or his father, Leonard S. Leibman. The bulk of the items within the collection are buttons (more than 750), including both lithographic and celluloid buttons, as well as lapel studs. The buttons are mainly composed of metal, although some are of plastic. Most of the buttons have either a wire pin pinback or a safety pin style pinback, although some are missing any type of pinback. The collection also includes a variety of tab buttons. Located on the curl (or edge) or the back of many of the buttons are "union bugs" which feature the name of the union or company which has either sponsored and/or manufactured the buttons. Among the more common manufacturers are Bastian Brothers, Empress Novelty Company, Green Duck Company, Whitehead & Hoag, and N.G. Slater Corporation. Among the union bugs are the A.F.L.-C.I.O., Allied Printing Trades Council, the Amalgamated Lithographers of America, the I.P.E.U. (International Photo-Engravers' Union of North America), and L.P.I.U. (Lithographers and Photoengravers International Union).
The collection is arranged in thirteen series: I. Advertising; II. Alphabet buttons; III. Campaign and political buttons; IV. Event memorabilia; V. Heroes/the Famous; VI. Military; VII. Organizations' buttons; VIII. Ships; IX. Sports; X. Tourism; XI. Coins; XII. Stamps; and XIII. Miscellaneous buttons and charms. The first series, Advertising, includes buttons for a number of businesses including the automobile industry (Buick, Chrysler, and General Motors), insurance companies (Metropolitan Life and National Life and Accident), a hotel, a photographic company, a beverage company, and others. There are also a few more patriotic buttons encouraging buyers to focus on American goods and to boycott Japanese and Nazi products.
Series II. Alphabet buttons includes buttons with a single letter of the alphabet in either gold or silver on a background of red, blue, green, or black. Most of the alphabet is represented, including 21 of the 26 letters. Only B, J, K, L, and Y have been omitted. These buttons appear to have been produced by the Green Duck Company in Chicago.
Series III. Campaign and political buttons contains the largest number of buttons in the collection and these buttons document a wide variety of political campaigns and candidates in the United States from the 1920s to the 1970s. Both Democrat and Republican candidates are well represented as are both the primary and general elections. The buttons document more than 100 candidates in a variety of elections, including the president and vice president, senators and congressmen, governors, mayors, assemblymen, commissioners, councilmen, and judges. Candidates represent several states including Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. These buttons are arranged alphabetically by candidate name.
Series IV. Event memorabilia includes buttons largely from the United States dating from 1898 to 1967. These buttons memorialize internationally important events such as The World's Fair in New York, V-J Day, and the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments in Geneva, as well as more local events celebrating charter days, centennials, state fairs, and food days. These buttons are arranged alphabetically by event name.
Series V. Heroes/ the Famous document individuals who surged into the public eye. These individuals include religious figures, political leaders (non-US), military figures, explorers (John Glenn and Charles Lindberg), and Rin Tin Tin. These figures are arranged alphabetically by individual.
Series VI. Military includes buttons, insignia, and pins for American, Canadian, British, French, German, and Spanish armies dating largely from the 19th and 20th centuries. Researchers will find a number of items from the Civil War, and the first and second World Wars. Items are arranged alphabetically by the country of origin when known, and by identifying feature when the origin is unknown. A few items relate to liberty loans, war work campaigns, and the American Red Cross and are arranged by their organization name.
Series VII. Organizations' buttons are arranged alphabetically by organization name and document unions, social groups, service organizations, and beneficial groups. Unions included are the American Federation of Labor, International Union of the United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, the Teamsters, and the URCLPWA. Researchers will also find the American Legion, the Elks, the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, the Freemasons, and the Lu Lu Shriners as well as the American Peace Movement, the American Red Cross, the Community Chest, and the Order of the Oaks.
Series VIII. Ships includes a small number of buttons documenting famous ships of the days. These buttons are arranged alphabetically by ship name.
Series IX. Sports includes buttons for boxers, baseball players, football players, bowlers, and jockeys as well as a number of sports teams. Items are arranged alphabetically by player or team name. There are also buttons for the 3rd Pan-American Games held in Chicago, Illinois in 1959.
Series X. Tourism documents both countries and states within the United States. These buttons are arranged alphabetically by country and alphabetically by state. The bulk of the country buttons include the country's flag while the state buttons include the state's seal. The majority of these buttons appear to have been issued by the Sweet Caporal Cigarette Company, probably as a collectible series. One or two indicate that the advertiser was the Chew Sweet 16 Gum Company.
Series XI. Coins includes coins from France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. The bulk of these coins are monetary, but there is one that commemorates Charles Lindbergh's first non-stop flight from New York to Paris. Finally, there are two coins that are so worn that they were not identified. It is possible that these predate the earliest known date (1820) of material within the collection. Items are arranged alphabetically by country issuing the coin.
Series XII. Stamps includes a small number of stamps from British Guiana, Germany, and Monaco. Thirteen of the sixteen stamps are from Monaco and date from the 1890s to the 1950s.
The final series, XIII. Miscellaneous buttons and charms are a group of items that have little context surrounding them. These items are arranged alphabetically by slogan or symbol on the button or charm.
Gifts of David J. Leibman, 2012 and 2013.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Siduri Beckman
- Finding Aid Date
- 2016 August 19
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.