CANFIELD – Growing up in the 1960s, a young teenager saw a world of friendly neighbors.
Sometimes those neighbors were the very ones who helped shape the future in more ways than they might have known. This was the case for a teenager named Jack Dixey, now 67, who started collecting early on.
Dixey is a nationally known political memorabilia collector who organizes the region’s largest collectors exhibition. Looking back 54 years ago, he said it was an elderly woman from his street who introduced him and helped him start his long-standing job.
“I grew up on Edwards Street in Canfield,” Dixey said. “When I was in high school at 13, I walked from home to the old high school on Wadsworth Street. This walk took me past Grandma Scott’s house.
He said he often stopped to talk with Scott and that she shared peanuts with him. He would also help the elderly lady and she would pay him with a political button. Thinking they were fascinating, Dixey kept the buttons and started a collection. This collection would become more valuable with the help of “Grandmother”. “I would mow his lawn,” Dixey said. “One day, she was impressed that I took the time to clean the grass from the lawn mower without being asked. She gave me a special button for the effort. It was a Woodrow Wilson button.
When Garndma Scott turned 70, she fell ill. Dixey said that when she realized she wasn’t many years old anymore, she passed her large button collection to Dixey, but there was another big surprise ahead.
“After her death (August 26, 1972 at the age of 76), she left me an envelope addressed to Jack,” Dixey said. “I opened it and found out that Grandma Scott left me a (Abe) Lincoln pewter button.”
He said the Lincoln button was still in his personal collection and that he would never sell an item.
Dixey continued to hold on to his treasured collection of political buttons. During his final year of high school, he even added another element of his own design. He ran for president of the senior class in 1971 and found an unusual way to campaign.
“I bought a box of matchboxes,” he says. “I pulled the matches, painted the covers, and then I wrote on the cover ‘There is no match for Jack.’ I put them all over the school for people to find. They would pick up the box of matches, read the cover, then open it to find no matches. I kept one for my collection.
Dixey graduated from Canfield High School in 1972, and then attended Bowling Green University, where he earned a double degree in Marketing and Sales Management.
He continued his collection by frequenting what he calls “a great place” to find future collectibles. He attended both the Democratic and Republican conventions, picking up the paraphernalia of the candidates. He also added local items to his growing inventory.
“I have the ‘I love Spike’ button from when former mayor Francis Spike McLaughlin showed up for the Canfield office,” he said. “I also have the Assistant Junior Metal Star that Sheriff Ray T. Davis handed out to the kids.”
In 1981 Dixey took his passion for political collecting to the next level. At the time, he lived in Mansfield and decided to set up a salon to bring together collectors. It was held at a hotel on the east side of Columbus, but that location became unavailable in 2008 when the owners sold it to build an indoor water park.
“I moved the show to Canton that year and hosted it at the McKinley Grand Hotel,” Dixey said. “I had the ballroom sold.”
He said that in 2019, just two weeks before his big show, hotel management canceled the event. Soon after, Dixey moved the show to the Serbian Center in North Canton, and it was a great success.
COVID-19 continued to be a stumbling block in 2020 when the Serbian Center canceled the show. That year, Dixey found the MAPS Air Museum and a room he could rent. The hall was an old airplane hangar with plenty of room for the show. There was room for 45 tables and the show was expanded to bring in other collectibles like comics, antique advertising, antique bottles, photographs, ephemera, postcards and militaria. The combination of collectibles made for a great show, and it was a huge success.
This year, Dixey will be hosting their 40th annual show at the MAPS Air Museum, 2260 International Parkway in North Canton, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.
“It sounds unusual, but I’ve been collecting political memorabilia for over half a century,” Dixey said. “It really has become a passion and an enjoyable hobby. ”
Dixey has also been involved with Hakes Auctions and is able to manage collectibles auctions. In fact, Hakes is sponsoring the Canton show.
For more information on the show, contact Dixey at [email protected]