Antique and vintage items relating to presidential campaigns, assassinations and war are always more popular in a presidential election year. More than 300 lots of historical manuscripts, photographs, books and other items were in a recent sale by Cowan’s Auctions in Ohio. The sale offered eight presidential campaign bandannas, ranging from 1888 to 1940. Bandannas have been used as political souvenirs since the founding of the country. The first was created for Martha Washington. It pictured her husband George on horseback. The act not only defied the British ban on textile printing, but the red bandanna also personified American liberty and independence.

Bandannas remained popular political campaign promotions through the 1950s. The bandanna for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign with the slogan “Win with IKE for President” was the most popular of these campaign items. An archivally framed presidential campaign bandanna with portraits of President Benjamin Harrison and Vice-President Levi P. Morton sold for $175 (pictured on cover). The jugate portraits were recreated from engravings made by H.B. Hall’s Sons, New York. A jugate has two portraits side by side. Jugate ephemera goes for higher prices at auction than campaign materials that picture a single candidate. An 1888 red jugate campaign bandanna with black and white portraits of presidential candidates Grover Cleveland and Allen Thurman sold for $113. Red is a popular color for campaign bandannas. A 1912 red Theodore Roosevelt battle flag campaign bandana sold for $138.

A stunning 1885 framed silk needlework tapestry depicting the flag-draped body of Ulysses S. Grant, created as a memorial for the 18th President of the United States, sold for $1,625, well over the $300 to $500 estimate. An angel is shown uniting the hands of two female figures that represent the North and the South. “Let Us Have Peace” is stitched at the top with “In Memoriam U.S. Grant” below. 

Commemorative relics were often used as fundraisers. A wood fragment with a tag that reads “Piece of Old Frigate Constellation given to Antha by Capt. John Davis 19” sold for $113. The wood is suspected to have been taken during the late 1950s to early 1960s restoration of the sloop-of-war USS Constellation. The ship was considered to be the last surviving Civil War combatant. She was launched in 1855, decommissioned in 1864, and then recommissioned in 1871 for use as a training ship.


In general, the older a political bandanna is and the better its colors, graphics and overall condition, the higher its price. Professional framing also ups the value. And the price can often be boosted by how well-known the candidates still are — campaign winners are usually remembered a lot longer than losers.  
Photos are courtesy of Cowan’s, a Hindman Company, 6270 Este Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45232. Its online April 10-20, 2020, American Historical Ephemera and Photography, Including Books: Timed Auction catalog is archived at  

Harrison and Morton jugate campaign bandanna, 1888. Cotton, circle of stars around portraits, flags and eagles in corners. Banners announce “For President / Benj. Harrison / Of Indiana / For Vice President / Levi P. Morton / Of New York / Our Choice / 1888 / Protection To Home / Industries.” Archivally framed, 26 1/2 in. by 28 1/2 in. $175.

Cleveland and Thurman jugate campaign bandanna, 1888. Cotton, portraits of Grover Cleveland and Allen Thurman, eagle with crossed cannons, cannonballs and flag. Banners read “For President / Grover Cleveland / of / New York,” “For Vice President / Allen G. Thurman / of / Ohio,” “Public Office / A / Public Trust,” and “The Union / For / Ever.” Crossed flags in corners read “Tariff Reform / For Revenue Only,” and “No Surplus / Low Taxes.” Archivally framed, 26 1/2 in. by 28 1/2 in., $113.

Theodore Roosevelt campaign bandanna, 1912. Cotton, portrait, “Progressive / Roosevelt / 1912 / Battle Flag,” marked “D&C . N.Y.” in lower left corner, archivally framed, 26 in. x 30 in., $138.

Ulysses S. Grant memorial tapestry, c.1885. Silk needlework depicts the flag-draped body of U.S. Grant; an angel joining the hands of two female allegorical figures representing the North and South; Mars, the god of War, at Grant’s head; and Clio, the muse of History, at his feet. Stitched “Let Us Have Peace” at the top and “In Memoriam U.S. Grant” at the bottom. Framed, $1,625.

Relic from the USS Constellation, wood fragment, attached tag reads, “Piece of Old Frigate Constellation given to Antha by Capt. John Davis 19.” USS Constellation commissioned in 1855, permanently decommissioned in 1955, 6 3/4 by 2 1/2 in. by 2 1/2 in., $113.


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