sitemap I'm the Guy Pinback Buttons
I'm the Guy



(Enola Gaia)
I'm the Guy Button

Brought To You By:

Randall Whitaker

Copyright © 1999, 2001   Randall Whitaker

Randall Whitaker

ABOUT THE PINBACKS   Introduction   Issuers   Pinback Features  

SERIES LISTINGS   7/8" Diameter
"I'm the Guy"
  7/8" Diameter
  1.25" Diameter



  • ... is offered as a reference resource on the subject of these pinback buttons (in case anyone else out there happens to find them as interesting as I...).
  • ... deals exclusively with the text-only pinbacks which I favor.
  • ... owes a big THANKS to Robert J. Foster, Jim O'Hare, Richard Siegel, Gary Hill, and others who have provided information on these buttons over the years.


LAST UPDATE:   19 April 2008

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Sometime around 1970, I was browsing through an antique store in Tennessee. My eye was drawn to a faded red pinback button upon which was written the surreal caption: "I'm the Guy Who Put Whiskers on Catfish".

Well, I just had to buy it... Over the years, I found a few more such pins here and there in antique stores and at exhibitions. Finally, I just gave in and began collecting them in earnest. After about 30 years now, I've accumulated a collection of over 1600 specimens representing more than 500 distinct captions.

There are two types of "I'm the Guy" buttons. One type has the comic caption plus a cartoon picture (often a picture of a goofy character with no explicit linkage to the caption). Several cartoonists of the day (including Rube Goldberg, who originated the "I'm the guy..." catchphrase) drew the pictures for these pinbacks. Most commonly, these pictures are in two or three colors. Less commonly, there are black-on-white pictures (sometimes duplicates of others seen elsewhere (in later years?) in color). As I understand it, the rarest ones are those which are two-tone white-on-dark format.

Owing to their graphics, their colors, and the association with well-known cartoonists of the period, the cartoon pinbacks are quite "collectible".

However, I simply don't like them, and I collect only the second type of "Guy" buttons -- those with text-only captions typically printed in white letters on a darker colored background.


The Phrase "I'm The Guy"  
It was the cartoonist / humorist Rube Goldberg who coined the gag phrase "I'm the guy who...." circa 1910. As I understand it, this was a stock saying by a character in a comic strip Goldberg drew. The phrase became very popular, and Goldberg elaborated it over time. He was even co-author of a song entitled "I'm the Guy", whose lyrics were largely comprised of variations on this catchphrase.

NOTE:  The cartoon at the head of this Webpage is based on the cover Goldberg drew for the song's sheet music.

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These pinbacks were given out as premiums with the following tobacco products:
  • Hassan (cigarettes)

  • Tokio (cigarettes)

  • Perfection (cigarettes)

  • The Favorite (cigarettes)

  • Clix (cigarettes)

  • Obak (cigarettes)

  • Picayune (cigarettes)

  • Chesterfield (cigarettes)

  • Red Lion (chewing tobacco)

The Chesterfield brand is the only one to survive to the present day.

In the following subsections, the other issuing brands are briefly introduced...

Hassan Cigarettes
Hassan Cigarettes (Pack)
  Hassan Cigarettes (Pack)   Hassan Cigarettes (Pack)
  Hassan Cork-Tip Cigarettes was a prolific issuer of diverse premiums. To judge from the available specimens, they were perhaps (along with Tokio) the predominant issuers of the related cartoon pinbacks.

With regard to the series featured here, Hassan issued 7/8" diameter pinbacks.

Tokio Cigarettes
Tokio Cigarettes (Pack)
  Tokio Cigarettes was the source for a number of premiums during the early part of the 20th Century. With regard to this series of pinbacks, Tokio issued only 7/8" diameter specimens.

Tokio was also one of the most prolific issuers of the 7/8" cartoon pinbacks displaying comic art by famous cartoonists of the day.

Favorite Cigarettes
Favorite Cigarettes (Pack)
  Favorite Straight-Cut Cigarettes were produced by the Cameron & Cameron Company. This company only issued 7/8" diameter pinbacks as premiums (in this series). Favorite Cigarettes (Ad)

Obak Cigarettes
Obak Cigarettes (Pack)
  Obak Cigarettes (Sign)
  Obak Mouthpiece Cigarettes is best known as the issuer for some of the most beautifully crafted baseball cards of the early 20th Century. Their baseball subjects were focused on the West Coast minor league teams (e.g., from the Pacific Coast League).

With regard to this series of pinbacks, Obak was an issuer of 7/8" diameter specimens in red, blue, and green.

Clix Cigarettes
Clix Cigarettes (Ad)
  Clix Cigarettes is one of the tobacco companies about which I know the least. Except for the tiny image in the ad shown on the left, I've never seen any specimen of one of their cigarette packages.

Clix issued 7/8" diameter pinbacks in this series.

Perfection Cigarettes
Perfection Cigarettes (Pack)
  Perfection Cigarettes was one of the more prolific issuers of the text-only pinbacks featured in this Webpage.

Their cigarette packages went through multiple variations, as illustrated by the photos shown here.

In addition to issuing a wide variety of the 7/8" diameter specimens, Perfection is the only company known to have issued the limited series of 1.25" diameter lithographed pinbacks.

Perfection Cigarettes (Pack)

Picayune Cigarettes
Picayune Cigarettes (Pack)
  Picayune Cigarettes were a Southern regional brand touted as "The Pride of New Orleans". Production of Picayune's cigarettes continued at least as late as the 1960's, and perhaps even later (as an occasional novelty brand).

Pinbacks issued by Picayune are among the most rare specimens in this series.

Picayune-issued pinbacks are of 7/8" diameter.

Red Lion Chewing Tobacco
Red Lion Tobacco Tag
  Red Lion Plug Tobacco is the only non-cigarette brand known to have issued pinbacks in the series featured here.

Pinbacks issued by Red Lion are the rarest specimens in this series.

A Red Lion tobacco tag (shown at left) is much more commonly encountered than their pinback premiums.

Red Lion-issued pinbacks are of 7/8" diameter.

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PINBACK FEATURES   This section describes some of the characteristics of this series of pinback buttons.

The vast majority of pinbacks issued in these series are approximately 7/8" (0.875") in diameter. A very limited series of larger buttons (approximately 1.25" diameter) were issued by Perfection Cigarettes (Factory No. 42, North Carolina).

Vintage / Age:  
I honestly don't know the time span during which these buttons (of either size) were issued. To the best of my understanding, Rube Goldberg coined the "I'm the Guy" phrase (at least as a popular catchphrase) circa 1910. That (one would think) would be the earliest year in which any pinbacks with that phrase would have appeared.

I've often wondered if the "non-Guy" buttons were already in circulation by that time. Similar comic sayings appeared on (black-on-white) pinback buttons issued by High Admiral and Sweet Caporal cigarette companies around the turn of the century. It is conceivable that the 7/8" buttons were already in circulation at the time the "I'm the Guy" phrase caught on, and that the "Guy" captions were simply added as time went on. It must be pointed out that some of the slogans appearing on the "non-Guy" pinbacks I collect appeared earlier on the High Admiral and/or Sweet Caporal pinbacks.

The 7/8" diameter buttons were issued in three colors. In decreasing order of number issued (i.e., increasing rarity), they are:

  • Blue (typically dark or navy blue)

  • Red (ranging from fire engine red to lighter shades...)

  • Green

The 1.25" diameter buttons were issued in blue and red only. I don't know if one color was more common than the other (or even if there were different color versions of the same button / caption). All the large specimens I've seen were of one color per given caption, and most of these specimens were blue.

The vast majority of pinbacks issued in these series were manufactured by the oldest and largest producer of pinback buttons in the first half of the 20th Century - Whitehead and Hoag Company of Newark, New Jersey. A minority of these pinbacks were manufactured by Phelps and Sons.

Some specimens in this series (most particularly the 1.25" diameter ones issued exclusively by Perfection Cigarettes) do not indicate the pinback manufacturer on the back paper. In these cases, the factory listed would appear to be the cigarette factory which issued the specimen. This means that such specimens might have been manufactured by companies other than Whitehead & Hoag or Phelps & Sons.

Printing Type:  
The vast majority of pinbacks issued in these series are of celluloid construction - i.e., they have a printed celluloid face overlaid onto a metal back.

A minority of the 7/8" diameter pinbacks are of lithographed construction - i.e., the caption is lithographed directly onto a metal face. All the lithographed specimens of this size I've seen have been within the "I'm the Guy" series.

All the 1.25" diameter Perfection pinbacks I've seen are lithographed.

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This document lists the pinback buttons by caption. See the individual Sections for details on the alphabetical arrangement of the listings.

Where there are variations (e.g., in phrasing or spelling) of a single caption, they are listed separately.

The listings are a combination of the buttons in my collection plus specimens cited in reputable dealers' catalogs and other documentation I consider reliable.

I'm not sure anyone is really certain how many of these buttons exist(-ed). The most complete documentary inventory I've ever seen listed a total of 359 known pinbacks (of all three varieties listed here). My own collection exceeds that number by a considerable margin, even though it (still) does not include some specimens listed in that cited document.



"I'm the guy who.../that.../ put...."

  In this section ("I'm the Guy"), the listings are arranged alphabetically by first key word occurring after the "I'm the guy...." preface.

The spelling and grammar reflected in these listings are exactly as they appear on known pinback specimens (or as cited for those few I've never actually seen).

ornament ornament ornament ornament ornament  

air in airships

ale in Yale

arms in the army

banks on the Wabash

bars in Bar Harbor

bars in the jail

bats in the Battery

battle in battleships

beams in moonbeams

beans in Boston

bells in Belfast

bells in Belgium

block in Block Island

bored holes in macaroni

bow in the rainbow

boy in boycott

brook in Brooklyn

broke the record

built the ark

built the Canal

built the pike to Pike's Peak

built the pyramids

built the subway

bull in Spain

bums in bumblebees

bunk in Bunker Hill

buns in bourbon

buns on bunions

butter in butterflies

buzzards in Buzzards Bay

cab in cabbage

came back

can in Kansas

cans in Canada


cash in cash registers

cat in catsup

cats in catnip

cats in the Catskills

chat in Chattanooga

chew in gum

clams in the chowder

cloves in clover

coke in cocoa

collars in Colorado

con in bacon

con in Congress

cooked Dr. Cook

cough in coffee

cracks in crackers

cream on milk

crust on pies

current in electricity

cyclones in Kansas

dam in Amsterdam

descended from Adam

devil to sleep

did in didn't

discovered America

discovered baseball

discovered the East River

docked the doctors

doll in dollars

done it all (small print)

done it all (large print)

dots on the dice

dough in bread

dough in doughnuts

drum in drummers

dub in Dublin

dug the big ditch

dug the pit in Pittsburg

eats the dates on calendars

erected the North Pole

eyes in eyelets

eyes in potatoes

figs in figures

fire in firewater

flies in baseballs



flies in butterflies

fly on fly paper

foam on beer

fogs in London

force in the police force

found the fault in asphalt

found the oyster in the stew

frisk in Frisco

gas in gasoline

germs in Germany

gin in Virginia

gloves in Gloversville

go in Chicago

gold in the Golden Gate

graft in telegraph

grapes in grapefruit

guns in gunboats

guy in geyser

ham in Hamlet

hands on the clock

hats in Manhattan

heads on tacks

heat in the sun

held five aces

hips in the Hippodrome

hips on hurrahs

hobbles in skirts

hoboes in Hoboken

hoes in Idaho

holes in cheese

hook in hookworms

hop in hops

hops in beer

hops in grasshoppers

horns on the bull

horses in horseradish

hump on camels

I'm the guy

ice in the Arctic

ice in the Artic (sic)

Indians in Indiana

invented hot air

isle in Carlisle

jags in moonshine

Japs in Japan

joker in the deck

junk in junkshops

key in whiskey

kids gloves

land in Maryland

law in lawyers

leaps in leap year

licked the liquor

lime in the limelight

liver in Liverpool

made a barn dance

made a flush

made Long Island Sound

made the Board Walk

made the cape for Cape Cod

made the cat fish

made the cow slip

made the fuss

made the horse fly

made the key to Key West

made the moon shine

made the scales for fish

made the star light

made the wash stand

made William Tell

makes it rain when it rains

man in Manhattan

man in the moon

mark in Denmark

married Mississippi

might in dynamite

milk in cocoanuts

milk in the Milky Way

mill in Milwaukee

mosquitos in Jersey

mush in mushrooms

mutt in mutton

never told a lie



news in newspapers

noise in Illinois

noise in sound

nominated the president

notes in music

oaks in Oakland

oats in oatmeal

oil in oil cloth

OK in Oklahoma

one in none

onions in Bermuda

oyster in the stew

oysters in Oyster Bay

pains in windows

pay in pay day

pencil in Pennsylvania

pep in pepper

pips in pippins

poles on tadpoles

pop in popcorn

pork on the hog

port in Newport

prince in Princeton

raised the rumpus

rats in the Rathskeller

rest in restaurants

ring around the moon

rock in Rockaway

rope in Europe

rush in Russia

S in stung

saint in Saint Louis

salt in the ocean

sand in the desert

sand in Sandusky

saw in Arkansas

scotch in Scotchmen

sea in Seattle

settled the strike

shamrock in Ireland

shells on the seashore

shine in sunshine

silk in silkworms

sings in Sing Sing

snakes in Ireland

sneezes in snuff

speed in autos

speed in snails

sponge in spongecake

spring in Springfield

stamps on letters

stars on star fish

started pictures moving

started something

steam in steamboats

stickers on gooseberries

straw in strawberries

strings in string beans

tax in taxicabs

that saw the salad dressing

that started something

that strings beans

that's chief of mischief

tights on sausages

toads on toadstools

toes in tomatoes

took the ants out of the Giants

trot in turkey trot

trunks on elephants

tuck in Kentucky

Turk in Turkey

twinkle in the stars

wait in waiters

wall in Wall Street

warts on pickles

warts on toads

wash in wash stand

watched the fire escape

water in rain

water in stocks

water in watermelons

whiskers on catfish

wish in wishbones

won Cape Race


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from the same / similar series

  In this section I've listed those 7/8" diameter pinbacks which were issued by the same tobacco / cigarette companies, but which have captions other than "I'm the Guy..."

The listings are arranged alphabetically by the first word in the entire caption.

ornament ornament ornament ornament ornament  

A boob is an awful thing

Ain't he cute, he's only six

Ain't I the sunny boy?

All Hunkey Dory

All right, old sport

And he never came back

Any fool can work

Are you a Mason?

Ask me

Ask me something easy

Ask my name

Aw, can it

Aw, close up

Aw - come off

Aw, Kid McCoy

Aw, lean on your breakfast

Back out, kid

Be careful

Be reasonable!

Beat it

Beat it while your shoes are good

Believe me

Bring one

Call me early, mother dear

Call me up some rainy afternoon

Calm yourself

Can it

Cheer up

Cheer up! The worst is yet to come

Cheer up There'll be another day

Cheese it

Choke it off

Come across

Come again, I don't get you

Come off the perch

Come to life

Cut that out

Cut that stuff

Did you speak?

Did your father cut your hair?

Do it now

Do me no favors

Do you follow me?

Do you get me?

Don't be a quitter

Don't bother me

Don't care if I do

Don't get mad

Don't mention it

Don't say it just wink

Don't say yes to everybody

Don't smile if it hurts you

Don't spit in the walk

Easy money

Easy on the ruff stuff


Every dog has his day

Every little bit added, makes a little bit more

Everybody works but father

Everybody's doin' it

Everybody's doing it

Excuse me!

Fade away!

Farewell, Claude

Fiddle up

Fire away!

For Auld Lang Syne

For he's a jolly good fellow

For the love of Mike!

Funny as a crutch

Gee - a pipin

Gee what a name

Gee what a nerve

Gee whiz! I'm glad I'm free

Gee you're a lucky guy

Get a horse!

Get on the band wagon

Get on the job

Get one

Get out

Get the hook

Get wise

Get your hair cut

Give it a drink

Give me liberty or give me death

Give that calf more rope

Go tell your mother

Going some

Good morning, Judge

Good night

Good night!

Good night! William

Hail to the Chief

Hands off!

Hands up

Has anybody here seen Kelly?

Have a care

Have a heart!

Have courage

Have you a sister

He flew the coop

Hello Bill

Hello! Bill

Hey! Quit that

Hire a hall!

Hit him with a brick

Hock it kid, it's got a beard on



Hold my hand till the car comes

Home was never like this

How about cher?

How be ye?

How old is Ann?

How's chances

I am busy

I am surprised

I call you

I could love a girl with money

I don't get your drift - snow again

I don't think

I feel as fine as a fiddle

I got cha, Steve

I had a dollar once

I have you Stephen

I love my own town but Oh, you Oshkosh

I love you

I make my own ice

I never flirt

I never worked

I should worry?

I want a home

I want to know

I went to night school

I will be a sister to you

I'd like to believe yer

I'll get your goat

I'm a bear cat

I'm a dazzler, are you?

I'm a happy guy

I'm all in but the buttons

I'm from Missouri

I'm married now

I'm on my way

I'm on to you

I'm one of the kids from Goat Island

I'm single

I'm stuck on you

I'm the boy

I'm the guy

I'm the butte from Montana

I'm the keeper of the Golden Gate

I'm yours until Niagara Falls

I've got my eyes on you

I've got your number

If time were money I'd be a millionaire

If you love me grin

Is everybody happy?

Is that your dog?

It can't be done without a makeup

It's a bear

It's a long lane that has no turning

It's a pleasure to have a friend like you

It's all to the mustard

Just like that

Keep it dark

Keep kool

Keep moving, you Tigers

Keep out

Keep the change

Kwit cher kicken

Lead me to it

Leave it to me

Lend me a dime

Let George do it

Let me tell you something

Let's be friends

Let's take a joy ride

Licked to a frazzle

Light up, your pipe's out

Looks like an early fall

Make a noise like a hoop and roll away

May I see you home

Maybe you think I'm happy

Me for the turkey trot

My foot slipped

My hat's in the ring

My wife won't let me

My word

Naw, I ain't married

Nice work, kid

Nix, on that!

No wedding bells for me

Nobody loves a fat man

Nobody loves me

Not on your life

Nothing to it

Now everybody is happy

Now will you be good

Nuff ced

O.U. chicken

Officer, call a cop

Officer, he's in again

Oh! Dry up

Oh! I just love work

Oh Joy

Oh, Mama

Oh my yes

Oh, piffle!

Oh! That mysterious rag

Oh, you!

Oh! You baby doll

Oh! You Cubs

Oh, you Giants

Oh, you Indians



Oh, you kid

Oh, you ki-id

Oh, you Pirates

On your way

Over the river for yours

Pipe the gink! Will yer

Pony up

Pretty nifty

Pull your head in

Put an egg in your shoe and beat it

Put that in your pipe and smoke it

Quick, Watson the needle

Quit yer kiddin'

R U Happy?

Right off the bat

Ring the bell, I'll buy

Roll your hoop

Sand your tracks your slipping

Say! Give us a knock down

SH-H Don't Wake Me Up

Shake 'em up

Shake it up

Shake well before using

Shop early

Short a nickel

Show me

Sic 'em Tige, they're city chaps

Sic him kid, he bit your father

Slam it - old boy slam it

'Smatter Pop

Smoke up.

Sneeze, your brain is dusty

So I see

Some class, eh?

Some class here

Some hitter

Somebody start something

Something doing

Stick out your ears, you're falling through your collar

Stick to it, kid

Sure Mike

Surest thing you know

Take a chance, there's two out

Take a fall out of yourself

Take a little tip from Dad

Tell it to Sweeney

Tell it to Sweeny

Tell it to the cop

That'll be about all

That gets my goat

That's a hot one

That's the least of my worries

That's what they all say

The booby hatch for yours

Them's harsh words, sport

There are others

There's a good time coming

There's a ring around the moon

They shall not suffer

They're after me

Think twice before you speak

This is on me

Thought I was broke

Tie the bull outside

Toot your horn

United we stand, divided we fall


Vote for me

We won't go home "til morning

Well, I guess not, white hope

Well, what do you know about that?

What are you afraid of

What's up?

What's your right name?

Wheels! Wheels! Wheels!

Whisper It

Who are you?

Who's all right?

Who's your friend?

Whoever heard of you

Whoops M'Dear

Why should I worry?

Will see you later

Will you ever stop kicking

Wipe your chin

Y.R.U. sad?

Yep! Nothing to do till tomorrow

Yes, I will not

Yes you will nit

You are all right

You bet cher life

You get me nervous

You know me, Bill

You look the part

You make me tired

You poor boob

You're a lucky guy

You're a peach

You're crazy in the head

You're flying high

You're in the wrong pew

You're next

You're on, kiddo

You're talking through your hat

You're the candy kid

You're the goat

You're the whole show

You're wasting time

Your Treat Nit

Zip! Goes another nickel


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(1.25" DIAMETER)

  These are more limited edition buttons from the same basic series. All the ones I've seen come from Perfection Cigarettes, Factory No. 42, North Carolina. These are more rare than the other (7/8" diameter) pinbacks.

All the 1.25" diameter specimens I've seen are lithographed (as opposed to celluloid, as are the majority of the 7/8" specimens).

According to an antique / collectibles dealer who's dealt extensively in these buttons, there are only 20 known 1.25" diameter pinbacks (as distinguished by caption).

However, his listing, combined with the 1.25" Perfection buttons in my possession, yield the following list of more than 20:

ornament ornament ornament ornament ornament  
Be careful

Calm yourself

Do it now

Do you follow me

Do you get me

Excuse me

Get on the job

Going some

I got cha, Steve


I have you Stephen

I should worry

I'm from Missouri

Keep the change

Lead me to it

Maybe you think I'm happy

Officer call a cop

Officer he's in again

Oh! You baby doll


Oh you kid

Quit your kiddin

Roll your hoop

Show me

That'll be about all

The smoothest

There are others

To-morrow, to-day will be yesterday

ABOUT THE PINBACKS   Introduction   Issuers   Pinback Features  

SERIES LISTINGS   7/8" Diameter
"I'm the Guy"
  7/8" Diameter
  1.25" Diameter

ornament ornament ornament ornament ornament Copyright © 1999, 2001 Randall Whitaker GO: Top of Page