Presidential Memorabilia Merges Politics, Collecting
September 25th, 2016 by Mike Teegarden
Steve Ferber with a rare Barry Goldwater cowboy hat from the 1964 presidential campaign. It is signed by several celebrities, including Ronald Reagan.

Steve Ferber with a rare Barry Goldwater cowboy hat from the 1964 presidential campaign. It is signed by several celebrities, including Ronald Reagan.

Steve Ferber has never met a U.S. president, but he certainly knows a lot about them. He and his wife, Lori, have more than 10,000 presidential memorabilia items in stock at their warehouse.

Together, they own Lori Ferber Presidential Memorabilia.

The company bears Lori’s name because “she works harder than I do,” Steve says.

The items they sell range in price from 99 cents to more than $15,000.

“The more expensive items tend to be presidential autographs,” says Steve.

He says he is often questioned about why he carries such a wide price range of collectibles.

“Collecting is for everybody,” he says.

Steve, 62, got his start collecting in junior high or high school.

He can’t remember which.

“I guess it was a little bit by osmosis,” he says. “I had an interest in politics and an interest in stamp collecting.”

The two loves eventually merged. His first big attempt at cashing in happened when Steve was 19. It was 1973 and Richard Nixon was about to be inaugurated as president.

Steve hired an artist and had a portrait card of Nixon designed. After having 4,000 cards printed, he drove from his home in New York to Washington, D.C., to have the cards postmarked. His intent was to capitalize on Nixon’s inauguration and sell the cards.

While showing a lot of initiative, the idea was about as successful as Nixon’s presidency. Steve still has plenty of those cards available today.

Steve has refined his business model in the past 40 years.

“I used to sell at shows and exhibitions through the years,” he says. “I had fun and I was making some money at it at a young age.”

Those shows are how he got Lori interested. He says he dragged her along when they were still dating and in college. Eventually, she starting enjoying them, too.

Today, Steve and Lori do most of their business through the internet. They recently moved their office and warehouse to a new location to better house their growing collection.

Steve says there are three types of collectors: The hardcore collector, which is the smallest group and getting smaller; those who have an interest in a particular president; and casual buyers who show up every four years, when a new president is elected.

John F. Kennedy is the most collected president, followed by Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln, Steve says.

“Today we sold a Frisbee from Ronald Reagan’s inauguration,” he says, noting it went for $20.

While the entire presidential genre appeals to Steve, his past ties with the newspaper publishing industry make one item stand out a little more than others.

“I would say that for me that would probably be the Dewey defeats Truman newspaper,” says Steve.

Prices on that iconic Chicago Daily Tribune newspaper front page from November 3, 1948, range from $2,500 to $3,500, depending on its condition. When the paper was printed, it sold for 4 cents.

Other than election years, Steve says current events have little effect on buying patterns.

“Sometimes, when a president passes away there might be some pickup, but other than that it is pretty steady,” he says.

With 40-plus years in the business, Steve and Lori are well known in the collecting community. Those contacts are how they acquire a lot of their items.

“We’ve been doing this for so many years that so many people know who we are,” Steve says. “Items come from just about everywhere. I don’t think a day goes by when somebody doesn’t contact us about a collection of items from their parents that passed away and they think they have found the Holy Grail.”

That prized collection usually includes Life magazine copies with photos of Kennedy on the cover. Steve says he has to deliver the bad news that there is little value in those magazines.

But sometimes he gets to deliver good news about the value of an item.

“We had someone contact us that had an item from the Kennedy inauguration,” Steve says.

It was a plaque from one of the inaugural events. Steve did some research and discovered an old photo showing the plaque on the dais with Kennedy standing there.

“That $300 item went from $300 to $10,000,” he says.

Steve has a simple criteria to judge how collectible an item is.

“To have value it has to have scarcity and demand,” he says.

For more information, contact Lori Ferber Collectibles at moc.rebrefirolnull@irol or call (888) 477-9222. Visit www.loriferber.com to see items for sale.