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Lincoln and the Colonel

Susan Emerson Nutter | June 22nd, 2013


From the 1840 campaign, this William Henry Harrison silk flag shows Harrison’s log cabin and cider barrel symbols, which some consider to be among the most effective political logos in the history of American campaigning. Collectors have always prized 1840 flags with this design above those with the candidate’s portrait. Possibly no more than six to eight examples of this flag survive. To the left of the cabin is a flagpole surmounted by an eagle with wings extended as well as a cannon and shot and a rank of uniformed soldiers, symbolic of the military exploits that brought Harrison to national notice. The barrel in the foreground is marked “Hard Cider.” The cabin door stands open, and above is the widely publicized Harrison quote: “If you ever come to Vincennes, call on my cabin and you will not find the door shut or the string pulled in.” With strong colors the 21¼" x 25½" flag sold for $23,900.


The Lincoln and McClellan pieces from 1864 are considered the rarest major party jugates, according to Heritage. There are probably no more than five of the McClellan-Pendleton examples known to exist. This 1¼" x 1¼" example retains its original red and blue paint highlights. There is a T-bar pin attachment on the back, but it lacks the securing loop. The portraits are bold with great contrast and focus. The emulsion surfaces are smooth and glossy, with no chipping or blistering. It sold for $29,875.


Thought to be the best-designed William Henry Harrison bandanna of 1840, this 24½" x 28½" silk shows a border with a series of cider barrels and drinking mugs with the slogan “Harrison and Reform.” The extreme outer border has a repeat of the slogan “W. H. Harrison Hero of Tippecanoe.” The center shows the Harrison log cabin, the candidate himself, and two veterans who have come for a visit and a drink of hard cider. There are embroidered initials of the owner (W.H.I.) in the upper right. The bandanna brought $14,340.


This engraved 14k gold presentation pen is inscribed “To Hon. A. Lincoln by Jos. E. Stokes 1864.” It is accompanied by a notarized 1972 affidavit from the nurse who attended Lincoln Isham, Abraham Lincoln’s great-grandson, for four and a half years. She attests that the pen was passed down through the Lincoln family and that it was given to her by Isham. Heritage was not able to uncover any information on Stokes but believes he was one of the many office-seekers or contractors looking for favor from the president. The mechanical pen and pencil combination is marked “Mabies Patent Oct. 1854.” A photocopy of the patent is included, as is additional information about the manufacturer. At just over 5" long, the pen brought $11,950.


This Henry Clay 1844 campaign flag is the largest Clay flag (31" x 52"). A portrait of Clay, surrounded by stars, is in the blue canton. The blue overprint reads “Clay/ Frelinghuysen/ and/ Protective Tariff.” The red and blue remain vibrant. The linen flag in excellent condition sold for $16,730.

Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas

Photos courtesy Heritage Auctions

When it comes to selling fantastic political or historical material, consignors know Heritage Auctions is a great place for the job. When it comes to things pertaining to President Abraham Lincoln, checking out what Heritage has to offer is a must.

“We have sold many wonderful items related to President Lincoln,” said Tom Slater, Heritage Auctions’ director of Americana auctions. “We developed a major Lincoln following ever since we hosted two very successful single-owner auctions of Lincoln items.”

While the Heritage Auctions June 22 and 23 event was not a single-owner sale, the numerous consignments brought together included a nice selection with a Lincoln connection. Everything from banners and flags to torches and jugates associated with the 16th president of the United States sold during this two-day auction.

By definition, within the trade of political collectibles a jugate consists of two portraits side by side. On a Lincoln and Hamlin jugate ribbon, which sold well at $10,755 (includes buyer’s premium), the portraits were one above the other, and the design used several different type fonts and showed two slogans, including the slavery-related “Lincoln, Hamlin and Liberty.”

Political torchlight parade items—these being flags, torches, lanterns, marching uniforms, etc.—are always in demand. If the piece is from a Lincoln-inspired rally, all the better. An 1860 Lincoln and Hamlin parade torch (a tin cylindrical single-burner torch on a metal bracket with the names “Lincoln” and “Hamlin” painted on either side) sold for $14,340. The torch measured 4" in diameter and 3½" high (not counting the burner) and sold attached to a 40" long replacement pole. According to Heritage, “We know of only one other Lincoln tin torch so decorated; namely, the ‘Hurra for Lincoln’ torch in the Smithsonian.”

The Wide Awakes was a paramilitary campaign organization (usually organized by city into local chapters) affiliated with the Republican Party during the United States presidential election of 1860. Though styles differed between chapters, the Wide Awake uniform consisted of a full robe or cape, a black glazed hat, and a torch, 6' in length, to which was mounted a large flaming, pivoting whale-oil container like the one described above. Other adornments to the uniform often consisted of a hat badge.

Heritage offered a rare 2" diameter hat badge produced by Childs of Chicago of embossed tin plate. An inner circle of the badge depicts a bust of Lincoln facing right, surrounded by the words, “Abraham Lincoln 1860.” Then there is an outer band of raised circles with the words “Wide Awake.” It is felt that this badge was worn on the front of their hats by members of the Lincoln Wide Awakes. “We are aware of four examples of DeWitt number one hat badges,” Slater stated, “but we believe this is to be the only known example of this Lincoln version.” This possibly unique Abraham Lincoln Wide Awake hat badge sold for $9560.

Banners and flags were also staples of torchlight parades. A framed 1860 cotton flag inscribed “Lincoln and Hamlin” sold for $11,950. This 10½" x 17" flag sports 33 stars in the canton that were arranged in the Great Star pattern. A 16" x 26" cotton flag inscribed “For President/ Abraham Lincoln/ Vice President/ Hannibal Hamlin” made $7170. The flag’s design utilized four different type fonts giving it a broadside style. Interestingly, the flag showed 35 stars, but in 1860 there were not 35 states in the Union. It is thought this piece was produced in 1864, prior to the National Union Party convention, held in Baltimore, in the anticipation that Hannibal Hamlin would be renominated for a second term.

Lincoln items were popular at this Heritage event, but other items associated with other political figures also sold strongly. Again, the flag genre did well. A Henry Clay 1844 campaign flag commanded $16,730 mainly because of its spectacular condition, which included vibrant red and blue colors. Other factors influencing the final bid also played a role, such as the fact that this 31" x 52" example is the largest Clay flag. It bore a large portrait of Clay and blue overprint, “Clay Frelinghuysen and Protective Tariff.”

Then there was the William Henry Harrison 1840 silk campaign flag, which featured Harrison’s log cabin and cider barrel symbols. It is possible that fewer than eight examples of this flag exist. Other images featured on this flag, which made $23,900, include a flagpole surmounted by an eagle with outstretched wings, a cannon and shot, and a rank of uniformed soldiers.

Not to be ignored was the single dessert plate—just one—from the White House service ordered by President James K. Polk in 1846. Measuring 9" in diameter, the plate was made by Edouard Honoré of Paris. Featured on the plate was an American shield with 27 stars with the center being decorated with yellow roses. This singular piece of dinnerware made $20,315.

Then there was the iconic white suit once worn by KFC’s own Colonel Harland Sanders. Political? No. Historical? You bet, at least where Kentucky Fried Chicken enthusiasts are concerned. This suit had been given to a teenage boy who became a close friend and neighbor to Sanders late in the Colonel’s life. (See sidebar.)

“Sanders let the boy borrow his suit to wear one Halloween and permitted him to keep it,” Slater stated. The current president of KFC in Japan flew in with his associates with the sole intent of purchasing this suit and the other items that made up this lot, including everything from vacation pictures to images of Sanders doing KFC promotional work. “I really think money was no object, but I sure wish the underbidder would have continued,” Slater added. “Though we were very pleased with the final bid ($21,510) for this lot, which was way above estimate, I really think the businessman from Japan was willing to offer more.”

Those willing to offer more (buyers competing to enhance their collections) were the norm at this Heritage sale. “This was a solid auction where strong material did very well,” Slater said.

Approximately seven different designs are known of Lincoln and Hamlin jugate ribbons. The portraits of this example are large with a folk art quality to them. There are two side-by-side designs known, and the portraits on those are small. Heritage stated that it is “aware of two examples on red silk and this one in white.” The jugate is mounted along the top and bottom to a sheet of paper, most likely part of an old album. A faint horizontal fold line and two ink stains were the condition problems with this lot, which brought $10,755.

This single 9" dessert plate, from the White House service ordered by President James K. Polk in 1846, sold for $20,315. It was made by Edouard Honoré of No. 6 Boulevard Poissonière in Paris. The plate is decorated with an American shield with 27 stars and yellow roses in the center, thus it would appeal to collectors of White House china and Texas collectors. Polk advocated and oversaw the annexation of Texas. The back of the plate has an attached note indicating it had been given by President Lincoln to George Edward Gambrill, an employee of the U.S. Post Office. It is known that Lincoln handed out old White House dinner service pieces.

This tin parade torch, 1860, has a metal bracket with a single burner. The tin reservoir is 4" in diameter and 3½" high, not counting the burner. The names “Lincoln” and “Hamlin” are painted on either side, and it’s attached to a 40" replacement pole. It sold for $14,340.

This pair of shackles is believed to be those used on John Brown during his incarceration at the Charlestown, Virginia, jail following his arrest during the raid at Harpers Ferry. John Brown’s capture of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry on October 17, 1859, as part of a failed attempt to incite a slave uprising, is seen by most historians as the spark that ignited the Civil War. The leg irons are stamped “D2 ER” in two places, and the key (left-handed thread) is stamped “D2.” The initials “ER” stand for Elijah Rickard, a locksmith who operated out of Shepherdstown, Virginia. Heritage stated that, according to a newspaper article published in the Cincinnati Herald of November 19, 1893 (a transcript of which accompanies the lot), Hezekian Atwood Jr. arranged with an elderly black woman to obtain Brown’s leg irons by substituting an identical pair, procured at an expense of $8. The catalog listing reads, “Whether apocryphal or not, the shackles were ‘liberated’ and employed thereafter (1860-65) as props by Rev. Henry Ward Beecher of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights where, excoriating the evil of slavery, he repeatedly stomped upon them. The shackles may have been loaned to Beecher by Hezekiah Atwood Sr., a Congregationalist minister. The consignor’s aunt took the shackles to school for a show-and-tell around 1930, at which time a letter of provenance from Charles Baker Atwood (Hezekiah Atwood Jr.’s son) was lost, as well as a piece of red flannel attached to them. The significance of the red flannel has been lost to time. Perhaps they designated the shackles used on Brown or perhaps they indicated that these shackles had left-handed thread locks.” Besides the transcript of the 1893 article, the lot is accompanied by a copy of a 1973 letter of provenance from the consignor’s grandmother (the aunt’s mother) as well as copies of newspaper articles from 1889 and 1890. The sturdy shackles weigh perhaps six pounds. The original key is included. They brought $13,145.

An archive of a variety of items obtained from Colonel Harland Sanders (1890-1980) of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame was consigned by Mike Morris. The Morris family became close to the Colonel toward the end of his life, when Morris was a youth. The featured item is the Colonel’s trademark suit and string bowtie. The jacket has a label from the tailor Merton Chesher of Toronto. The slacks have a label from the tailor Warren K. Cook with the name of the client, “Col. H. Sanders.” The suit was given to the consignor by Sanders for him to wear one Halloween. Included is a framed 20" x 16" photograph of Sanders in his most recognizable pose, inscribed on the pseudo-canvas “To my dear friend Mike Morris with every good wish for health and happiness. Sincerely, Col. Harland Sanders 9/1/78.” Other items in the collection included a vinyl album containing 16 black-and-white and color  8" x 10" photos of Sanders taken for the October 31, 1969, ground-breaking ceremonies for Collins Food International; a City of Hope Medical Center souvenir booklet with many photos of Sanders; a booklet issued in conjunction with Sanders’s 80th birthday; a 16 mm reel of color film, Save That Life, sent to Sanders from the producer Scott Peters; a videotape of the Col. Sanders and Darrel Gilliam Appreciation Dinner in Kokomo; a large reel of 8 mm color film labeled The Colonel’s Film (the first frames of which seem to show European buildings); a reel of 16 mm color film depicting the Dick Cavett Show from February 1971. The archival group sold for $21,510 to Maseo “Charlie” Watanabe, president of Kentucky Fried Chicken of Japan.


This image of a young Mike Morris enjoying his Halloween costume sold with the archive of Colonel Sanders items.

Getting to Know Colonel SandersSelling with the white suit worn by Colonel Harland Sanders and other items associated with Sanders was a 16-page narrative written by Mike Morris. As a young man, Morris received this suit from the Colonel. Morris told a fascinating story of how he and his family became involved with this iconic American figure. Heritage Auctions’ catalog summarized the contents of the letter:“In 1975 the Morris family had built a large, modern home on a tract on land outside Louisville, KY. About six months after they moved in, a white stretch limo pulled up in their driveway, and to young Mike’s amazement, out stepped the Colonel. Sanders looked around for a few minutes, then got back in his car and left.“The next day, Mike’s father got a call from Sanders, who explained that he was looking for a new home outside the city and had been driving around Shelby County looking at properties. And he had concluded that he wanted to buy the Morris home! The answer was a polite, but firm, no. However, the Colonel was very persistent, and finally wore down their resistance by making an offer they couldn’t refuse. The deal included Sanders selling a portion of the 33-acre tract of land back to the Morrises, so that they could build another home on it for themselves (apparently, they were paid very handsomely, as the new house they ultimately built was much larger and more lavish than the one they were vacating!).“Construction began on the new house, and Sanders put his old home on the market. To his surprise, it sold very quickly, before the Morrises had a completed new home to move into. The Colonel’s solution: he and his wife would move into the lower level of the home they were buying, and the two families would share the house! And so it came to pass that the two families became close friends.“When Halloween rolled around, the Colonel offered teenaged Mike Morris one of his trademark suits and the use of his limo and chauffeur so that he could go to the Halloween bash as Colonel Sanders. It proved a great success, and afterwards Sanders kindly told the boy to keep the suit as a remembrance.“Mike played in the high school band, and on another occasion the Colonel drove his limo out onto the football field, shook hands with everyone,  and personally handed out the band trophies.”This 16-page account tells many other colorful stories about the family’s interaction with Sanders during the four years they lived as neighbors, until the Colonel passed away in 1980 at the age of 90. On the Heritage Auctions Web site are some of several original, casual photos. The narrative is truly an integral part of this lot, which is more than being just one of Colonel Sanders’s iconic suits. The narrative affords a personal glimpse into the qualities that made Harland Sanders a bigger-than-life American legend.For more information, contact Heritage Auctions at (800) 872-6467 or via the Web site (www.HA.com).Originally published in the October 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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