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Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2008

Caricatures play a key part of political history

President William McKinley was called "the Napoleon of Protection" because of his high tariffs. These 1896 political pitchers are shaped like McKinley or Napoleon. The tallest pitcher is 10 1/2 inches high. The four sold as a group for $757 at a September 2008 Mastro auction.

President William McKinley was called "the Napoleon of Protection" because of his high tariffs. These 1896 political pitchers are shaped like McKinley or Napoleon. The tallest pitcher is 10 1/2 inches high. The four sold as a group for $757 at a September 2008 Mastro auction.

November 2, 2008

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Presidential campaigns in the past were no different from how they are today. Caricatures, gossip, even lies and scandal were part of the campaign, although the information traveled slowly without TV or radio.

Grover Cleveland, in the 1884 presidential race, was accused of having an illegitimate son. He admitted it and won the presidency because voters admired his honesty. Other 19th-century presidential candidates were accused of buying underpriced stock in return for favors, taking loans with no interest from oil companies and making deals to influence the Electoral College.

The strangest rumor designed to influence votes was during the John Adams campaign for president in 1796. It was rumored that he sent a running mate to England to find some women to provide "pleasure" to the politicians.

One strange scandal was in the 1896 term of William McKinley. He was in favor of a very high tariff to keep foreign imports out so U.S. companies could prosper. Because he looked a little like Napoleon and because his actions were considered imperialistic by those who disagreed, his enemies satirized him as a fat Napoleon. One cartoonlike political item is a set of toby jugs that are shaped like a fat McKinley and a similar Napoleon.

Q: I have a sideboard with a label that reads "Reaser Furniture Co., Manufacturer, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania." It is 65 inches wide, 36 inches high and 21 inches deep. We are interested in its history and value.

A: Your sideboard was made between 1907 and 1918. In 1907, Clayton S. Reaser purchased the two-year-old Engle Furniture Company, part of the Gettysburg Manufacturing Company, and renamed it Reaser Furniture Manufacturing Company. They made buffets, sideboards, hall racks, dressers, wash stands and library tables, most of oak or mahogany. Reaser later purchased the remaining stock of the Gettysburg Manufacturing Co. and together his companies were known as Gettysburg Furniture Company. Reaser died in 1918, but his company was expanded to include the Gettysburg Panel Co. in 1920 to provide veneer and the Gettysburg Chair Co. in 1923 to make chairs. In 1951, the factories were sold to Sidney Rose of Cincinnati, and they closed in 1960. Your sideboard is worth about $300-$400. Clayton Reaser's brick Victorian-style house in Gettysburg, which was built in 1913, is now a bed and breakfast called the Keystone Inn. A few of the rooms feature furniture made by the Reaser Furniture Co.

Tip: You should not regild, resilver or repaint political buttons or badges. It lowers the value.

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