The world’s greatest collection of American political memorabilia will be sold at Heritage Auctions, in a series of landmark sales beginning this fall.
The collection of David and Janice Frent features thousands of rare items spanning more than two centuries of U.S history, and is expected to fetch millions of dollars.
The couple began their collection almost 50 years ago, when they were presented with a small jar of antique political buttons – a gift which sparked a life-long passion.
"It’s hard to imagine living without the collection," said Janice, “but over time the burden of being its custodians has grown harder to bear; it’s a great responsibility.
"Now we find ourselves looking forward to sharing these much-loved treasures with a new generation of collectors."
"After giving much thought, we made an extremely difficult decision," added David. "At this juncture, we want to give the opportunity to others to enjoy the items we have cherished for so long and feel this is the only way to be fair to all."
Their vast collection includes campaign banners, posters, pinback badges, ferrotypes and other rare items from the inauguration of George Washington in 1789 to the present day.
Most of the artifacts have never been exhibited to the public, and are the finest-known examples of their kind throughout the entire hobby.
"Over the years, prices of rare political items have risen to the point where many purchases amount to investment decisions," said Tom Slater, Heritage Director of Americana Auctions. “When that occurs in a collecting field, condition becomes more and more important.
"But clearly this was a priority from day one for the Frents. That practice should pay real dividends for the sellers as we auction the collection. Many of the pieces are the finest we have ever seen, and that will not go unnoticed by bidders."
The first sale is scheduled to take place in Dallas on October 21, with subsequent sales expected over the next two years.
"Presenting this monumental collection at auction will be quite a challenge,” said Slater.
"I have presided over the auction sale of some of the greatest political collections including those of U.I. ‘Chick’ Harris and Merrill Berman. But the Frent Collection dwarfs even those legendary holdings.
"We anticipate a minimum of eight quarterly catalog auctions of 500–600 lots each, and those will just include the more important pieces in the collection. The Harris and Berman collections each realized over $2 million dollars at auction, and the Frent Collection will unquestionably achieve multiples of that amount."