Thursday, July 5, 2012

Presidential Scraps

I hope that all my American friends had a happy and safe Fourth of July celebration. Did you paste images of our President into a scrapbook? No? Well, Americans of the 19th century did just that. Here are some presidential scraps from my collection of ephemera . . .

James A. Garfield was the 20th U. S. President (March-September, 1881) and the second to be assassinated. He was a Major General for the Union Army during the Civil War, and served nine consecutive terms in the House of Representatives. Garfield was a scholar of Greek and Latin (he met his wife when he taught Greek) and there is an account that he could write Greek with one hand while writing Latin with the other.

Grover Cleveland was the only U. S. President to serve two non-consecutive terms in office. He was the 22nd and 24th President (1885-1889 and 1893-1897). He was a reformer who had served as Mayor of Buffalo and Governor of New York.

Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom in 1886, while he was in the White House. It was an unusual match because as the best friend of her father, and the executor of her father's estate, Cleveland had actually supervised Frances Folsom's upbringing.

"Frankie," as she was known, became the youngest First Lady at 21, and was extemely popular with the American public. The Clevelands raised a family of five children.

Grover Cleveland died in 1908.
Frances remarried several years later and lived until 1947.


  1. Mark,
    You have the most interesting collections! I have never seen these. I wonder why there is a pair of doves for the Clevelands? BTW, how do you take care of your paper goods / ephemera collection? Do you protect them with acid free tissue?

    1. I have been collecting ephemera (primarily trade cards and rewards of merit) since the 1970s. I've found that the best way to view as well as protect them is to put them in albums with plastic sleeves. Each page or sleeve has anywhere from one to 15 plastic pockets. Most of my collection is housed four to a page. These plastic sleeves keep out humidity and bugs (I live in Florida), and they also insure that I can share my collection without people actually handling the individual pieces (I've lost a few that way!).

      Regarding the doves around the Clevelands, that might have been a reference to their White House romance, which was an event of interest for 19th century Americans. More likely, the doves were part of the tradition of these particular pieces, which were a type of calling card. There are actually names printed beneath the scraps, and this sentimental type of calling card was exchanged as sort of an everyday valentine between friends. So the doves and forget-me-nots reflected more on the giver and receiver than the subject of the scrap.

    2. That makes a lot of sense. I noticed the eagle in the second image and, then, the doves.....

      I asked about storing as I have a few vintage postcards I picked up in Paris....they are yellowing badly.

      Thanks and have a great weekend,

  2. These presidential scraps are superb. In my family, we collect anything patriotic.

    President Garfield's birthplace was right down the street from where I lived in Moreland Hills, Ohio (near Cleveland)--just a woods then, but now there is a replica cabin. Also, his superb Victorian house in Mentor, Ohio, called Lawnfield, is open as a museum.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Hi, Parnassus,

      From all that I've read, Garfield was a brilliant man with many skills. During the Civil War, for example, he gave a speech that quelled a rioting mob. He was cut short, and we can only speculate how he might have shifted the course of American history.

  3. Hi Mark,
    It's nice to be back and following your excellant and always informative blog. K

  4. Aren't they lovely colours ? interesting the second one saying fondest love. Also,I'm always love laurel wreaths anywhere , anytime

    Do you know the blog A Polar Bears Tale? I think you would appreciate it .

    1. hello, smr,

      Thank you for introducing me to A Polar Bears Tale — I can see that I'll be spending some time there!