Pinback buttons are most closely associated with political campaigns to promote a candidate or a cause, and were considered the best advertising medium of all in the late 19th century. They were first developed in 1896 by the job printer, Whitehead & Hoag in New Jersey, after securing several important patents allowing them to print reverse designs onto celluloid. With the 1896 presidential election that same year, the buttons became an overnight success. Once advertisers saw it as an opportunity for promotion, W&H were steadily producing buttons at the rate of one million per day. Soon a new printing plant was built in Newark to accommodate their 50 new modern presses, a photo engraving plant, a complete art department and machinery plant. According to collector Ted Hake, several of the artists employed by W&H over the early years included Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and Harrison Fisher.
The pinbacks displayed here are all part of various collections for sale on the Hake site. The circa 1910 "penmanship" pin with Lady Liberty shown above is considered rare and was presumably used as a reward to the student of good handwriting. I predict this pin will be considered even more prized now that penmanship has been relegated to an archaic pursuit by the common core standards educational initiative. Replacing it with texting dexterity perhaps... Below are many more early 20th century advertising pins for your viewing pleasure.