COX AND ROOSEVELT HOLY GRAIL 1.25" JUGATE BUTTON- THE MOST IMPORTANT BUTTON TO COME TO MARKET SINCE 1981.
As Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, is to comic collecting and the Honus Wagner T206 is to baseball card collecting, the Cox/FDR jugate is to political campaign material collecting. What this particular Cox/FDR jugate button can boast over those other two iconic collectibles is true rarity. Over the last forty years, numerous examples of both Action Comics #1 and T206 Wagner have sold publicly, but over that same four decade span no examples of a 1.25" Cox/FDR have been on the auction block. NONE! One must set their time machine to 1981 to revisit the last public offering. While examples of the 7/8" and 5/8" varieties are rarely offered, advanced lifetime collectors can expect to have several opportunities to obtain one of these smaller examples during their collecting life. This is simply not the case for the largest 1.25" varieties. Of the three different designs, a total of only six specimens are extant. Of these six, three are in the Cox family holdings and two reside in a fabled East Coast collection. With five of the six known examples locked deeply in collections that are unlikely to ever be sold, the present offering is a unicorn, representing the ultimate crowning addition to even the most advanced collection.
Details: 1.25" w/Whitehead & Hoag (W&H) back paper and photo copyright on curl. Trivial dot on FDR's chin that likely occurred in manufacturing. Otherwise only light wear in reflected light. Exc. Superb centering and full gloss. The present offering marks the first time any sepia toned 1.25" W&H Cox/FDR jugate has been sold publicly. Unquestionably the most important button to come to market in the last four decades and almost certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity to obtain the all-time set-stopper jugate. An investment grade campaign button if there ever was one and destined to be the crown jewel of the next owner's collection. See next lot for matching Harding & Coolidge jugate.
Hobby History: There are three varieties of Cox/FDR jugate designs known to be produced in the 1.25" dia. size. One produced by St. Louis Button Co. with a real photo design featuring an eagle and sun rays sometimes referenced as "Eagle and Rays." Only one example of this variety is known, and it resides in the Cox Family archive. The other two were both produced by W&H. One features slightly tilted portraits against a cream background without text and is sometimes referenced as the "Warner/Jacobs" Cox/FDR because of its inclusion in the 1981 Warner Collection auction. Two examples of this design are known, one in the Cox Family Archive and the other in an important East Coast collection. The third design, offered in this auction, features candidates' last names in a banner below their conjoined sepia toned images and is sometimes referred to as the "1.25" Browntone" because of its color and ability to be paired with matching 7/8" and 5/8" designs. There are three known "1.25" Browntone" specimens; one resides in the Cox Family Archive, another in an important East Coast collection and the third is the current offering. Those residing in the East coast collection and Cox Family Archive are not expected to come to market anytime soon, if ever. Of these three known designs in 1.25", two can be paired with matching Harding designs- but, with the unique "Eagle and Rays" design residing in the Cox Family Archive, unless another example appears the opportunity for collectors to obtain a pairable 1.25" is limited exclusively to the current offering.
The last 1.25" Cox/FDR to come to public auction occurred April 4, 1981 during the Don Warner Collection auction held at the World Trade Center. There catalogers called it "The Most Important Single Political Campaign Button To Be Offered Publicly!" The "Warner Cox/FDR" was famously obtained in a 1976 auction cataloged by Leon Wizel who wrote of the offering "The Rarest Of The Rarest Unlisted Anywhere- To Try And Price This Cox Roosevelt Is Ridiculous." In 1976 the reported sale was for $5800. By the time it returned to the market in 1981 a spirited bidding war between labor lawyer, Joe Jacobs, a legendary FDR collector, and publishing magnate Malcom Forbes concluded with Jacobs victorious, paying an unprecedented record price of $33,000. When it came time for Jacobs to part with his collection, all his key 1920 material found its way to the Cox Family Archive.
Why are these so rare? Theories abound within the hobby community, but one thing is certain, enthusiasm was low for the Democratic field in 1920 with Ohio Gov. James M. Cox becoming the nominee on the 44th convention ballot and selecting the then relatively unknown 38-year-old Franklin D. Roosevelt as his running mate, in part for his famous last name. As a result, not much material was produced and certainly not many jugate buttons. The surviving examples have long been considered likely samples issued by their manufacturers. This is supported by the fact that no more than three Cox/FDR jugates have been found together at one time and this with collectors scouring the country for them since the button set a sales record at the first American Political Items Collectors (APIC) convention in 1964, selling for over $200, an event that forever changed the hobby. Since then, the Cox/FDR has maintained its iconic status with the 1.25" specimens considered the ultimate cornerstone button for any collection. With only six total specimens and five of those six locked into two major collections, the opportunity to obtain a 1.25" Cox/FDR has been non-existent- until now, making the current offering a truly monumental opportunity.
A Note From Founder Ted Hake: The fun and thrill of collecting, being in the search, I've had a blast for sixty-two years. I learned of the storied Cox/FDR jugate pin-back button in 1960 when I first became aware of collectible presidential campaign artifacts. Fifteen years or so later, around 1975, I stretched my budget and bought my first Cox/FDR jugate, a 7/8" match to the present offering, while setting up as a dealer at a Bellman Productions Antique Advertising Show in Gaithersburg, MD. I owned it for almost two hours before making a profit I could not turn down.
My next brush with the presidential dynamic duo came around 1990 when Hake's Auctions was featured on the nationally syndicated TV show Missing Reward hosted by Stacy Keach. My offer was $10,000 for any undamaged Cox/FDR jugate. No undamaged examples materialized, but I gave a Texan near Dallas $3,000 for a stained 7/8" found in his attic. That became Hake's first Cox/FDR jugate to be auctioned. Between 1990 and now, we've auctioned an additional four, most recently achieving a record price for a "7/8" Browntone" at $42,480 in our Feb. 2021 auction. The 1.25" always eluded me, until now.
Now we come to number seven. This is not only an iconic Cox/FDR jugate but, in my button world, the holiest of holies: the Cox/FDR in the largest known size of 1.25". Frankly, I didn't think I would ever hold one. But now at 78, I can check that box. It was worth the wait and the search sure was fun. Now it is one other person's turn to own this fabled artifact of America's presidential campaign history.
A Note From Americana Specialist Scott Mussell: Wow! I'm humbled at the opportunity to catalog this treasure. As a campaign item collector alongside my father since the age of 8, this button has held a spot in my daydreams for as long as I can remember. I have just turned 37 and I shudder to think there might not be another opportunity at this iconic rarity until my retirement years. Suffice to say it is an honor to be instrumental in this rare public offering.