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    Magnificent, Museum-quality 1844 Henry Clay Cloth Banner Large cotton fabric banner from Pennsylvania, touting the Whig ticket of Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen, plus Joseph Markle, the Whig candidate for Governor. This is an early example of the "coat-tail" concept, in which Markle was clearly a believer. Numerous items from ribbons to banners carried all three candidates' names, in the hope that Markle would ride the national ticket's "coat-tails" to victory in the state race. (The strategy failed. Clay and Frelinghuysen lost to James K. Polk and George Dallas, and Markle lost the Pennsylvania governor's race to Francis Skunk.) The raccoon had been adopted as a Whig symbol during the 1840 election, but really came into wide use in 1844, as numerous Clay items pictured "coons." (Some years ago we handled another Pennsylvania banner for Clay, Frelinghuysen, and Markle with a coon as the central device.) In this clever image, the Whig coons are climbing on poke weeds, (a tall berry-producing plant common to Pennsylvania forests), and consuming the berries (poisonous to humans, but apparently a treat to raccoons!). The use of the poke weed is of course a play on the name of the Democratic candidate, Polk, hence the two-line ditty at the lower right hand corner. This banner originally hung on the Hershey family barn during the 1844 campaign. Fortunately for posterity, it was moved inside, and "for generations has been hanging in the front staircase of (the) Hershey family home..." Owing to its thoughtful preservation, it is in superb condition, as fine as any political banner from this era which we have ever seen! The artwork is also masterful, as each raccoon has a wonderful folk art appeal. Descendent Eloise Zimmerly Willow recalls her mother telling the story that "when Henry Clay ran for president he gave each family a lantern....a duster (coat) and top hat which we still possess." It is clear that this family has taken the responsibility of their stewardship of this historic banner very seriously, and for this they are to be thanked. This is one of the few banners of this era whose full provenance is known. The term "museum piece" is sometimes thrown around rather loosely, but in this case it clearly applies! Measurements of the banner: 50" x 100".

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2005
    22nd-23rd Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,447

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