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Metairie man collects 220 years of election history (and counting)

Bob Stone can take a trip 220 years back in history without leaving his dining room table.

METAIRIE, La. -- Bob Stone can take a trip 220 years back in history without leaving his dining room table.

Stone collects political buttons, pins and tokens dating from the 1780s to this year’s volatile election.

“There’s tons of these … you can see ‘I like Ike,’ there’s a variety of Ike and Dick pieces, there’s Harry Truman…” Stone says, sorting through his collection.

It all began in 1972 when Bob was 10-years-old, his friends were stockpiling baseball cards, but he got a re-elect Richard Nixon pin that got him hooked on another collection.

“(Nixon) was running against McGovern and that’s who I wanted,” Stone said. “He was the president and to me he seemed fine.” At only 10-years-old, Stone knew exactly who he wanted in office.

History major, right? Nope, Bob’s a banker. History is just his passion.

“It’s not a matter of Democrat or Republican,” Stone said. “I have Prohibitionist, Communist, Socialist and other minor parties … What it’s really about is preserving history.”

Traveling the country to trade shows and antique shops for more than 30 years, Bob’s amassed a collection of more than 3,800 pieces. Hundreds of pins and buttons from both Louisiana and national politics. Pins that changed greatly in the 1950’s.

“When television came of age the buttons got bigger,” Stone said. “The reason they got bigger was so you could see them from a distance.”

And then came the flashier pins that changed on a tilt.

“One image is Ronald Reagan and then it says ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’ … we’ve heard that slogan lately,” Bob said.

Political buttons are mass produced now, but Bob says there are still those coveted with a unique phrase or picture that gives them value. There are plenty from a hundred years ago that he still hasn’t found.

“My favorite piece is always the next one,” he says.

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