A Great Collection Makes for a Great Auction

This magnificent composite nodder shows Theodore Roosevelt and his big stick atop an elephant.

As Franklin Roosevelt once said, Dec. 7 is “a date that will live in infamy.”

On that date this year, Cowan’s American History Auction from Cincinnati will live on in political lore.

One thing that makes a great auction is when an advanced collector decides to sell his or her collection and consigns it to the auction house. Cowan’s is fortunate to have the collection of Pat and Jim Gifford as part of this auction. Jim passed away in the recent past. His collection was renowned in the political hobby. His cane collection alone was notorious, but many other extremely rare items from his years of collecting are included as well.

Let’s look at some of the really nice items in this auction.

First is a very unusual 3 inch by 5 inch political shoe brush in the shape of a pig, with the brush on top. This metal pig has the face of President Grover Cleveland. Obviously, it’s not a pro-Cleveland piece. It has a patent date of April 22, 1884 on the bottom. I don’t recall seeing this item for sale before. It carries an estimate of $300-$500. Don’t be surprised to see it go past that amount.

An anti-Grover Cleveland shoe brush that’s made in the shape of a pig.

If you like items that belonged to famous people – in this case a president – you’ll want to check out a desk used by President James Garfield when he was a state senator in Columbus, Ohio in 1859. This black walnut desk has great documentation of its history, and is estimated at $3,000-$5,000. Besides the provenance of where it came from, it’s simply a nice-looking piece of furniture.

A textile with abundant stains and holes in it is usually not something that would catch my attention. But then again, an 1840 William Henry Harrison textile is scarce enough. Add to it that it’s a campaign flag and most collectors’ ears will perk up. This approximately 22 by 28 inch flag contains the words “Harrison and Reform The Hero of Tippecanoe.” Despite the condition problems, it still displays nicely and someone with deep pockets will take this home. It’s estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

Laddie Boy was President Warren G. Harding’s dog.

This auction contains several Theodore Roosevelt figural items that rarely appear. One of the best is a TR composite nodder doll, dressed in his Rough Rider uniform, carrying a big stick and riding a composite elephant with glass eyes and a removable head. TR’s head is attached with a metal strip that lets the head bob back and forth. Estimated at $1,500 to $2,500, this item is sure to attract attention from collectors of bobbleheads as well as political items.

Finally, an 11 ½ by 12 ½ inch cast iron statue of an Airedale terrier is valued at $400-$600. What makes the item special is the nameplate that identifies it as a replica of President Warren G. Harding’s terrier named Laddie Boy. Political collectors are notorious for looking at dog figures at antique shows hoping an Airedale will be labeled Laddie Boy, or a Scotty will carry a Fala tag, the name of Franklin Roosevelt’s dog.

This very rare William Henry Harrison flag is from 1840.

This auction is full of amazing history, political and otherwise. The items I’ve highlighted here are simply a few that caught my eye.

One week from today will be a day that lives in political collecting infamy. Check it out at CowansAuctions.com.






This desk was used by James Garfield in the Ohio Senate, before he became president.



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