SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A Sioux Falls man’s longtime hobby encompasses both the good and bad of U.S history. Gary Widmann has a collection of political memorabilia that dates back to the Civil War era and now includes a button symbolizing the charged politics of today.
Gary Widmann’s Sioux Falls home is museum of buttons, banners and badges from campaigns past. It’s Widmann’s passion that started at a young age.
“I was a kid and instead of collecting baseball cards and comics, I had a room full of John Kennedy stuff and from there, it just kept growing,” Widmann said.
Widmann has also accumulated souvenirs featuring Donald Trump through the years. He says a change in administrations will boost the value of items connected to both Trump and Joe Biden.
“A lot of the campaigns, they don’t have official buttons anymore. Like you used to be able to go down to Democratic headquarters, like when I was a kid, and you got Kennedy pins or you got McGovern pins, well, now it’s pretty much vendors,” Widmann said.
Widmann collects buttons by the box-load, but his fascination with politics didn’t draw him to the ballot box in November. He says neither candidate running for president appealed to him.
“I feel okay that I didn’t vote, I guess because I’m not a rah-rah-rah Trump, but I’m not a rah-rah-rah Biden, I’m just me, you know,” Widmann said.
Widmann’s collection will soon include a memento from a dark chapter of American politics. He’s ordered a button commemorating the pro-Trump rally in Washington, DC that ended in a riot at the Capitol.
“It will be a collectible item just because of the date and what happened. It was just a terrible thing in our country’s history,” Widmann said.
Widmann purchased the button for $10 dollars. Yet despite that tragic day, Widmann, the button collector, is pinning his hopes on a brighter future for the nation.
“There’s just too much hatred going around in the country and I hope the new president, God bless him, I hope he pulls through and does the right thing, and I think it’s a good start already, really,” Widmann said.
Widmann says only about 300 of the January 6th Trump rally buttons were made.
Widmann says social media has helped collectors network with other collectors and share rare items with one another.