What better day to celebrate the past than July 4th?
Antique lovers love a good story with provenance, so the past is always in the present when they enjoy finely crafted federal furniture, a Civil War battlefield flag, or the many examples of American treasures dating from the 19th and 20th centuries.
My most patriotic collector’s item is currently on display in my lobby. It is a plaster statue or bust of George Washington.
The story behind this treasure is how I got it. I bought it for about a dollar in the early 1980s, when I worked for a few years at LS Good, the downtown department store that no longer exists.
The store was bankrupt and still doing business, but there was some sort of label sale in the store for employees to buy weird display items. Well, this large statue was used for promotional purposes at the Washington Day (Presidents Day) sales every February.
I took George home where he stayed and put him on display if necessary for the holidays.
My oldest daughter Bianca Benson, who studied art, even plastered and painted George to keep him looking good.
He now entertains and educates my grandchildren who love to meet him. Unfortunately, there are no identifying marks so I was unable to research the manufacturer, but it is large enough for a pedestal in any classically styled formal room.
Patriotic collectibles are always educational and serve as great conversation pieces.
Cards are another historical collector’s item that is suitable for many patriotic collectors and history buffs. Displayed on a living room or office wall, a vintage map creates an interesting focal point as it adds an air of mystery and travel to the decor.
Battle Flags are also highly collectable as a War Artifact. Cards and flags can be worth millions, but even the not uncommon ones are great for collectors.
Flags, likewise, are collected because of their aesthetic and historical value. Surprisingly, American flags have varied considerably over the years due to the vague language of the Flag Act of 1777. Early flag makers could create their own star formations, resulting in a variety of designs, such as the crown or the pattern. scattered with stars. It wasn’t until 1912 that today’s flag standards were established, placing stars in rows against a blue background, complemented by red and white stripes.
To find good quality maps and flags, however, you should consult a reputable dealer and pay close attention to authenticity.
Another political collector’s item I’ve written about in the past are political race memorabilia like campaign buttons. History buffs, party activists and collectors of all ages appreciate reminders of contested races and important issues from our political past.
Political pins as we know them today have been around since the presidential campaigns of 1896 and are a reminder of our nation’s journey.
The most valuable buttons are those relating to any political figure whose mandate has been marked by a unique or important event.
If you happen to have any of President George Washington’s buttons sewn onto his clothes and those of his supporters, these are in great demand. These utility copper buttons read “GW Long live the President” and I see there is one on eBay right now that sells for $ 3,900.
Happy Independence Day, antique lovers, and thank you for reading my column.