That quadrennial phenomenon known to the politically-minded at the National Nominating Convention, and to the television observer as a circus, stirs many to fond memories. The wide-open blustery conventions of yesteryear are remembered by few, but one Summer School student can conjure up a panorama of past politics via his unusual collection of campaign buttons.
Bert Sugar, an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, has maintained an assemblage of campaign pins for a period of some eight years, and numbers within his collection pins dating back to the second nomination of Ulysses Simpson Grant in 1872, and continuing up to the present campaign. The most valuable items in the collection are two large buttons for the McKinley inauguration in 1900 and for his first nomination in 1896. Among Sugar's more than 3,000 buttons are ones for William Jennings Bryan, Samuel Tilden, Rutherford B. Hayes, Wendell Wilkie, Alfred Landon, Alfred Smith, Herbert Hoover and Alton B. Parker.
Besides collecting campaign pins, Sugar also has an autograph collection and belongs to the Manuscript Society which numbers some 6,000 autographphiles. The more important autographs in his collection are the signature of Louis XV (on a Lettre de Cachet, instrumental in the French Revolution), the New York Yankees' baseball contracts from 1927, the signature of General Abner Doubleday, the founder of the National Game of Baseball; and the autographs of U. S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Chester Alan Arthur, Thomas Nast, and all the Presidents since William McKinley.
Asked how he started his button collecting, Sugar explains that it was originally a diversion resorted to when he had to accompany his mother to antique shops. Having nothing else to do while he waited, Sugar looked for buttons.
However, his interest in historical memorabilia has also derived from his interest in history itself. Besides buttons and autographs, he has collected a great number of historical facts in his head, and used them to good advantage in his days as a Quiz Kid.
Sugar is a member of the Young Republicans, but nevertheless is following the Democratic Convention on television with great interest. He has dabbled in politics at the University of Maryland and in his home city of Washington, D.C