Antiques and collectibles often tell a story of the times when they were made. They point out the differences in olden days and now. Would you want a piece of furniture or curtains that pictured the president or your senator? Collectors of political memorabilia can find old tables, boxes, chairs, tiles, figurines, clocks and even dinner sets decorated with political pictures. Today, plates, mugs and souvenir bandannas are about the only collectibles using presidents' portraits. After George Washington died, the public clamored for pictures of him and, of course, there were no cameras, so, no photographs. Prints, engravings and paintings were made and hung in prominent spots in the home. A well-known fabric made in France for the American market pictured Benjamin Franklin, Lady Liberty and angels heralding Washington's arrival to heaven. The English Staffordshire potters made busts and large standing figurines that were portraits of Washington. In the late 19th century, probably because of the centennial celebration in 1876, cabinet makers made expensive furniture with inlay decoration picturing Washington, his wife, Abraham Lincoln and other heroes. Tastes and times have changed, and today there is little demand for home furnishings that feature pictures of past presidents.
Q: I have a small piece of silk fabric with a black-and-white picture of Abraham Lincoln in the center; a red, white and blue American flag at the top; and, at the bottom in red and green block letters, the sentence: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." The whole piece is about 10 3/4 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide. What is it, and how much is it worth?
A: You have a silk ribbon that dates from 1865. The words are from Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, delivered March 4, 1865. The president died on April 15. Your ribbon probably is a mourning ribbon, made to memorialize Lincoln after his assassination. The ribbon, if authentic and in excellent condition, would sell for $350 to $500.