I have never been a pin back collector, but as MEARS launches its new Pin Back Grading Division, I must admit my interest has been peaked. That being said, I decided to peek at some of the examples contained with the Bushing & Kinunen For Sales Site. I started with the baseball related pin backs because, well…I just like baseball best.
It didn’t take long until I found one that caught my eye. It was one of August “Garry” Hermann, President of the Reds at the time of 1919 World Series. The pin promotes Hermann for the position of “Grand High Exalted Ruler.” But Grand High Exalted Ruler of what? Hermann was President of National Baseball Commission from 1903 until 1920 when the position of Commissioner was established and Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis was brought in, in wake of the Black Sox scandal. Could this pin have been a promotional item pushing Hermann for this position? While a possibility, I didn’t think this to be the case based on previous research and reading on the period in question. I didn’t think it was for his Presidency of the National Baseball Commission either for the same reasons.
Hermann was very active in any number of civic associations in Cincinnati and well entrenched in local politics, so the thought of him running for or being supported for some office was certainly a possibility. In doing some research on Hermann in newspapers on microfiche, I think I found my answer. According to the Ft. Wayne (IN) Journal-Gazette from Friday May 26th, 1911 in an article titled “FOLLOW ME, B.P.O.E”, Hermann and his civic history is recounted as well as his position as Grand Exalted Ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, or B.P.O.E. The article also features a listing of past Grand Exalted Rulers and lists Hermann as the organizations head beginning in 1910. The New York Times from Sunday November 13th, 1920 confirms that Hermann won the election at the B.P.O.E Convention in Detroit of that year (along with a touring car for his Cincinnati chapter for having the “lodge whose ladies made the handsomest appearance at the Elks pageant.”
At this time in our nation’s history, automobiles were still considered a status symbol as could be seen in baseball as well. Remember at this time, the Chalmers Motor Car Company was giving away a new automobile to the leagues batting champion. With such perks as a new car on the line, it’s no wonder such care and expense were given to promoting a person such as Hermann with such an attractive pin back.
Another thing that I began to realize, is that pin backs, like any sort of memorabilia are also subject to research which is something I enjoy. I am sure for the veteran pin back collector, knowledge of what this pin back was or might have been was no great mystery, but it was one I enjoyed looking into. Other pin backs on the Bushing & Kinunen For Sales Site are grouped by:
What this indicates to me is that pin backs are and have been a steady state of our National fiber and memorabilia for well over a century. Because of their wide spread appeal, they offer both topical subjects to collectors as well as individual pieces to enhance any number of theme collections.
So what did I learn in all of this? I learned that pin backs are far more interesting than I first thought, and that this example might be dated to around 1910.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect. Maybe it might include pin back buttons.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com