Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reporters Jammed with Collectibles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reporters Jammed with Collectibles

Article excerpt

WHEN President Clinton spoke at SIU-Carbondale last Monday, he was followed by the usual pack of reporters.

Each reporter left Carbondale $5 richer - and probably didn't know it.

Their presidential press passes are collectibles. But I didn't learn this from a reporter. A St. Louis collector, Bob Levine of Manchester, told me.

"Anything to do with the press has collectible value," Bob said. "Badges, press passes, war correspondent credentials, newspaper or TV station lapel pins, even luggage tags from presidential tours, as long as they're not beat to holy moley.

"I just sold the Nirvana of press passes," he said. "I got $600."

Six hundred dollars for a piece of laminated paper? At least with collector plates you get some china. What do you get with old paper and plastic press passes?

"History," Bob said. "During the 1992 presidential election, Gov. Mario Cuomo gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention calling Bill Clinton the Comeback Kid. Someone issued a Comeback Kid press pass with Clinton's second-grade picture on it."

Three years later, little Bill was worth six big bills to Bob.

Before any reporters reading this add up their old press passes and tell their editors exactly what they think of them, that $600 price is rare.

"It's one of the few known. Most press passes are worth $5 or $10," he said. "National press credentials - CNN, ABC-TV or The New York Times - are worth more than generic press passes. If something historical happened on the trip, those passes are worth more. Nixon's trip to China, for instance. Anything from that trip is maybe $50. Any Kennedy press passes are worth at least $50. War correspondent credentials are $25 to $50."

Provided they're in good shape. Paper and plastic press passes can get pretty beat up on the road.

The weird thing is most reporters have no idea that they have money buried in their desks and file cabinets. One of my colleagues has 100 bucks worth of press passes tacked on his office wall. …

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