Today, in an age of TV and the Internet, we love our presidential candidates to be tall, thin and good looking. Male or female, it doesn’t make much difference, voters have a preference for candidates who are pleasing to the eye.
It’s hard to imagine a William Howard Taft becoming president today. Taft, our 27th president, was about 5-foot 11-inches tall, but weighed a whopping 340 pounds while in the White House from 1909 to 1913. He was so large he once got stuck in the White House bathtub and, depending upon whom you believe, it took either four or six men to get him out. A new, larger bathtub was soon ordered.
Taft was known as a genial man, and accepted his girth without shame. It’s easy to imagine him laughing at a popular joke of the day: “President Taft is so kind that he gave up his seat on the bus today — to three women.”
For political collectors, starting a Taft collection comes with a double bonus. William Howard Taft is certainly not among the top candidates for collectors. He’s not extremely popular, so his items tend to go for considerably less than those of, say, Theodore Roosevelt who immediately preceded him in office. But, Taft’s years in office fell smack dab in the middle of the Golden Age of Buttons, near the turn of the 20th Century. The buttons, as well as other items, from his 1908 and 1912 races can be spectacular in color and design.
It’s still possible to buy several different Taft photo pins for $10 or so, despite the fact that they are at least 100 years old. There is also a huge variety of items for President Taft, from plates to posters to buttons. Enough to keep any collector busy tracking them down for years.