20th-Century Labor Union Medallions & Pin Backs
Appraised Value: $2,100 - $2,300
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: ()
GUEST: My dad was active in the UAW-CIO, and I went to General Motors Institute, because he worked for Chevrolet.
APPRAISER: And this particular object that we're looking at-- the hat, and more particularly, this medallion-- had a very special meaning to you because of what happened in Flint, Michigan?
GUEST: He was given this medallion because he was part of the sit-down strike in 1937 that allowed the unions to get into General Motors.
APPRAISER: We say a sit-down strike, it sounds sort of gentle. What actually happened?
GUEST: They went to work, and they didn't leave. They stayed about... I think it was... It was something like 21 days before they came out. And they locked every... They actually had a lock-down. They wouldn't let anybody in either.
APPRAISER: Right-- and the National Guard was called out.
GUEST: The National Guard was called out. There were people who were against the unions that were throwing rocks through the windows at the people that were inside, and...
APPRAISER: Where were you at the time? Were you a young child?
GUEST: My grandmother owned a restaurant across the street from the Chevrolet factory, and we lived in the house behind the restaurant, and I was about four... four and a half years old when it happened. So I remember, uh... you know... More than anything else, I remember them not wanting me to go outside.
APPRAISER: Because it was too dangerous.
APPRAISER: Well, that was one of the most important events in American labor history, because it established the UAW as the union that the companies had to deal with. What we have here is this particular medallion, which celebrates the event, but here is something we see sometimes on ROADSHOW. These are union pinbacks.
APPRAISER: And each local would produce these, and people collect them, because they want to get an example from every local and every event that they were produced for. And sometimes these were produced in very small numbers, these little pinbacks.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Yeah, just for that particular local and that particular day, that particular month. See where it says "April 1939," for example? You're looking at maybe a run of 500 to 600 buttons that were produced, so that there is a huge number of collectors on a very small number of buttons. It pushes up the price of them.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Yeah, they're very desirable. Um... when it comes to values on something like this... This is a historical medallion, and it was given to those who were in the building, correct?
GUEST: That's my understanding, yes.
APPRAISER: That withstood the whole 21 days or three weeks of the strike that took place. To put a value on that, I would say that you would be looking at something like from $600 to $800...
GUEST: Oh, really.
APPRAISER: Just for that medallion.
APPRAISER: And then, while I was waiting before, I did a quick count on this stuff, and you're looking at about another $1,500 worth of labor buttons.
GUEST: Is that right?
APPRAISER: Well, there's quite a few buttons, and they add up.
GUEST: There are a lot of buttons.
APPRAISER: Yeah, and they add up. And you know, when you're talking $8, $10, $15 apiece, it multiplies fast, and they're in excellent condition. They've been kept very nicely. So all together, it's a really nice selection of buttons.
GUEST: Well, I appreciate that. It's been a lot of fun.
APPRAISER: And it's also a great piece of labor history.
APPRAISER: So thanks for bringing them in.
GUEST: You're welcome.
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