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    "Free-Soil" Presidential Candidate John Hale: An Extremely Rare and Important Pierced Tin Lantern from the 1852 Election. Among early three-dimensional campaign collectibles, few categories are as rare and sought-after as these punched tin lanterns. Made for use at night-time parades and rallies, they held a candle to produce the light, and one or more metal side panel had the candidate's name formed of tiny punched holes, which allowed the name to glow in the dark. We have seen examples as early as John Quincy Adams, and as late as Millard Fillmore. But despite their durable construction, amazingly few examples survive. We would estimate the total population of all varieties at not more than a few dozen. The legendary collectors U. I. "Chick" Harris and Kent Broyles, in a century of combined collecting, owned a grand total of ONE example between them: a Fillmore & Donelson owned by each for a time! Veteran Americana dealer Rex Stark, on examining this Hale lantern, observed that he had once handled a Franklin Pierce of identical construction. Since both ran in 1852, and both were from New Hampshire, it seems likely that the two lanterns emanated from the same New England workshop.

    All other punched tin lanterns we have seen were for major-party presidential candidates. But this one supported John Hale, a reform-minded New Hampshire Senator and bitter political foe of Pierce, who ran against him as a third-party "Free Soil" candidate that year. Hale's candidacy had little impact and generated few campaign items; we have seen only a few paper items supporting Hale. It is difficult to assess whether it is a "plus" or a "minus" that this lantern was made for a third-party candidate. While this clearly makes it particularly rare and a bit exotic, collectors love items for the major candidate: a Van Buren punched tin lantern recently sold for over $15,000 in an Ohio auction.

    Condition of the present example is nice. There is a light coating of fine surface rust, not abrasive, and two of the clear glass panels have cracks. But there are no dents, missing parts, or other significant damage. A rare opportunity to obtain what may be a unique political collectible. Measures 4.25" x 4.25" x 15" (including circular handle).

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    12th-13th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 741

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