When you love history as much as I do, you find yourself wanting to be surrounded by it all the time. From my desk at work to the walls of my Brooklyn brownstone, I have vintage and history-themed treasures everywhere! I can’t pass a Theodore Roosevelt tea towel or a Thaddeus Stevens bobblehead (really) without snatching it up for my little collection! This week, I’m launching a new series History at Home, which will help you find quirky vintage and handmade history-themed treasures to bring into your home, office, and life. And what better place to start than with a roundup of some fabulous items featuring our American presidents?
1. Marx Presidents of the United States vintage collection from Chocolate Palomino. $36
In the 1950s, the Marx toy company released a Presidents of the United States toy series. Today, these presidential figures are adorable vintage collectibles that can sit atop your desk, hide in spaces on your bookshelf, or become a seriously amazing addition to your car dashboard. Although this collection of 11 figures is a little random (it is basically presidents 7-19 with a few gaps in between, and then a random LBJ), it does include our most badass president Andrew Jackson, an assassinated president (Hayes), and the president to have served the shortest term (Wm. Henry Harrison).
2. Hail to the Chief Letterpress Print from 1canoe2. $44
When it comes to paper goods, I’m a sucker for letterpress. I love the way it looks and I especially love the way a quality letterpress print feels in your hands. This 11 x 17 letterpress print combines my love of letterpress with adorable hand drawn portraits of our 44 American presidents. I have this print hanging at my desk for easy reference on days when I can’t quite remember the words to Jonathan Coulton’s Presidents Song.
3. Teddy Roosevelt dish towel from Fishs Eddy. $12.95
A true New Yorker and the ultimate adventurer, Theodore Roosevelt is one of my favorite presidents – and Fishs Eddy’s line of Roosevelt-inspired kitchen items has only made me love Theodore more. The legend is that, while hunting in 1902, Teddy Roosevelt (by the way, he hated the name “Teddy”) saw a black bear but couldn’t bring himself to shoot him. A political cartoon – and soon, a stuffed teddy bear – came out of this incident, and forever more poor Teddy has been associated with bears.
4. Vice Presidents with Octopuses on Their Heads from Veeptopus. $20 each, $800 for all 47
The American vice president is such a thankless role – usually, only the veeps that go on to be presidents end up being remembered in history. However, despite their “second place” position, (almost) all of our 47 vice presidents have played important roles in American history. These prints of our beloved veeps with octopuses on their head are a little like the role of the vice president itself – a little weird, but strangely appealing. According to Jonathan Crow of Veeptopus, “It takes a rare person to pull off an air of dignity with an cephalopod on his head.” My favorites are Charles W. Fairbanks (a truly terrible veep), Chester A. Arthur, and old Elbridge Gerry, but they are all fantastic!
5. Presidential magnetic finger puppets from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild. $6/puppet
No apologies, I love playing with history-themed toys. I have a couple presidential finger puppets from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild at my desk, and my Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt puppets have become BFFs. These little puppets are magnetic, so they’re great on the fridge or to spice up a magnetic file cabinet in your office. And they’re perfect inexpensive gifts for the history-lover in your life!
6. Abe is a Babe mini-card from Constellation & Co. $3
Let’s face it, Abe wasn’t much of a babe in real life. Lincoln himself publicly referred to his own “poor lean, lank face,” which was wrinkled and weathered even when he was young. Ohio lawyer Donn Piatt, who saw Lincoln IRL, said, “He was the homliest man I ever saw.” And yet…there is something about Lincoln that is irresistible, then and now. This mini-card is perfect for those moments when you need to remind yourself that beauty is not just skin-deep, or when you want to send a (tiny) note to a Lincoln-loving friend.
7. Monroe Monroe Monroe Your Boat print from Puns Intended. $5
These days, James Monroe isn’t remembered for much. He was kind of a jerk, but he was the last president to wear a powdered wig – which has to count for something. I’m not sure if James Monroe had a boat, but if he did he definitely would have sang that song while rowing it. I love puns – and printed paper goods – so this Monroe Monroe Monroe Your Boat print is a must-have.
8. Vintage American Presidents coffee mug from lildebi53.
Historical figures on a vintage mug is like meta-history. That many layers of history early in the morning is just crazy! If you want to add a dose of American history to your morning, consider this awesome vintage mug with the portraits of the presidents (Washington through Clinton because, you know, it’s vintage).
9. Abraham Lincoln Fan Club pin from Your Fan Club. $6
When I was younger, fan clubs used to be a “thing.” These days, they either don’t exist – or I’m just out of the Teen Beat loop. Seeing as we’re all fans of Lincoln, let’s bring the fan club back with an Abraham Lincoln Fan Club! Wear this pin around the street to show your friends that you’re a member of the coolest fan club around.
10. Vintage Topps Presidential Trading Cards from Weathered Goods. $48
These vintage presidential trading cards are so good there’s no way you’re going to want to trade them! I have a couple of sets of vintage presidential flashcards/trading cards – they’re easy to find on Etsy or at vintage shops and they are great as history-themed wall art when grouped together. This particular set is probably from the mid-1950s (Eisenhower is the last president in the set) and the colors and design of these cards is fantastically vintage! Use these cards as wall art or channel your inner Martha Stewart and use them to collage the front of a notebook, as placecards or gift tags…the possibilities are endless!
I hope you enjoy these “pieces of the past” as much as I do!! Do you have any favorite history-themed trinkets or paper goods? I would love to hear more about them in the comments section. I’m always in the market for handmade and vintage history treasures…particularly when they involve a pun.
Your history-themed personal shopper,