Jimmy Stewart’s time at Princeton University

January 1, 2020

James M. Stewart, better known as Jimmy Stewart, entered Princeton as a Civil Engineering major (he wanted to be an architect) and was a “legacy” admission since his father also attended Princeton, graduating in 1898. Stewart attended Princeton and graduated in 1932, with honors. Stewart also served as Princeton’s head cheerleader during his junior year and was active in the Glee Club. Architecture turned out not to be his true love so instead of practicing it, he went into the theater and show business instead. While he was at Princeton he was active in the Triangle Club, a theater troupe founded in 1891.

Collectibles from Jimmy Stewart’s time at Princeton are rare.  His performances in the Triangle Club are documented from surviving programs, such as the one pictured below from a 1930 play titled “The Tiger Smiles.”  Princeton didn’t admit women until 1969 so the female parts in the musical were performed by males, although Stewart played a male character in this show, “Bruce Pelham, a senior.”

Stewart sang multiple parts in the musical in both acts one and two, singing a total of six times. His name is listed in the program among the cast of characters:

Images of Stewart as a cheerleader are captured in Princeton’s yearbook Bric-a-Brac, for the year of his graduation, 1932, and also he appears again in the 1933 Bric-a-Brac, where he is seen in a full page image along with his fellow cheerleaders.

Princeton doesn’t have fraternities or sororities like many other colleges and universities. Instead, they have “eating clubs,” where students take their meals and they are in effect like a fraternity or sorority. Stewart was a member of the Charter Club and his name is listed in Charter Club handbooks from the early 1930s.

Collectableivy specializes in memorability from well known colleges and universities, including Princeton. You can check out our website to see if we any Jimmy Stewart memorabilia in stock.

University of Pennsylvania Carnival Relays (Penn Relays)

December 1, 2019

The Penn Relays are the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States and began in 1895. Among those who have run the Penn Relays some well known names are: Jessie Owens, Roger Bannister, Usain Bolt, Buzz Aldrin, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Bernie Sanders, Wilma Rudolph, Bob Beamon, Edwin Moses, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Marion Jones. The Penn Relays are an eclectic set of races, held each Spring, in April. The first relay race was held concurrently with the opening of the original Franklin Field on the campus on UPenn in Philadelphia. Harvard won the first three signature races, the one mile relay. Penn won the race in 1915 setting a world record time of 3 minutes 18 seconds.

Not only do they feature nationally and internationally ranked athletes, but also from junior high schools in the area and high schools nationally. Athletes compete in a variety of sports including Decathlon, Hop, Step and Jump, Javelin and Hammer Throw, but the star of the program is the namesake, the relay races where runners have to hand off their baton to other runners.

Relay program from 1936 features Jesse Owens just prior to his victories in the Berlin Olympics

Jesse Owens competed in the 1936 Relays, representing Ohio State and winning three events (the quarter mile relay, the college medley relay and the half-mile relay). This was several months before he would cross the Atlantic and distinguish himself in the 1936 Berlin Games. Penn has a strong tradition in track and field and for many years the coach of the Penn track and field team was the coach of the U.S. Olympic team including in 1912, 1916, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932 and 1936.

The historic 1951 Penn Relays program featuring a fast student from Oxford University!

Roger Bannister is listed and pictured in the program, he was entered into the “Benjamin Franklin Invitation Mile Run” representing Oxford and won the race with a time of 4:08:30. In 1954 he would go on to become the first runner ever to break the 4:00:00 barrier running the mile.

 

Winners of Penn Relay Races receive medals and plaques with the likeness of the the founder of the University of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin, as seen above. Franklin is sitting in his library chair holding a laurel sprig in his left hand. Four nude runners stand facing him in a line all holding hands. The last runner in the line is holding the baton of the relay. Second place finishers receive a silver medal, and third place teams receive bronze. For a number of years winning team members received a gold watch and a giant bronze plaque that the school they represented can display when they returned home.

We have a nice selection of memorabilia from the University of Pennsylvania including many related to the Relay races on our website: www.collectableivy.com

Collegiate and University Tobacco Rugs, Cards, Silks and Carpets

November 1, 2019

The early part of the twentieth century saw high rates of cigarette smoking and an intensely competitive market among manufacturers. Egyptian and Turkish tobacco products were all the rage, in particular made by a company called Murad. Prior to 1900 people hand-rolled their own cigarettes so buying a package in a colorful package was a big deal. Murad was a leader in using marketing to help advance its sales. There was a time in the 1970s when a bank would give you a toaster as a gift when opened an account. Murad employed a similar strategy “giving away” little gifts when you purchase their premium products. Although tobacco rugs were produced across a variety of different themes including Middle Eastern design patterns and country flags, our focus is on those associated with colleges and universities.

One popular such item were “tobacco” rugs, which often times were created with pennants and images of well-known universities on them. The rugs are miniature, typically measuring 7 inches by 4 inches. They are also known today as “doll house rugs,” and were made of either felt or silk.

Not to be outdone, Fatima cigarettes distinguished themselves with larger rugs, the Cornell specimen below measures 29 inches x 13 inches

In addition to the miniature rugs, manufacturers also produced leather “gifts” with their products. Also small items, they typically measure 2 1/2 x 2 inches, and because the image is pressed into the leather from behind the pennants are normally raised above the surface:

 

Murad’s most popular give away, though were tobacco cards (measuring 5 by 8 inches). Murad offered 150 different cards (six different set of 25), in their “college series,” highlighting various schools, and often an athlete for the school. Unlike silks or leather, cards were never included with the pack of cigarettes. Instead, after you accumulated a certain number (typically 15) purchase receipts, you mailed them into the company and they sent you a card. They even provided a handy list of each set on the back of the card:

 

The range of sports included was far ranging:

 

This premium silk was produced Twelfth Night cigarettes:

 

These gifts were relatively short lived, having their heyday between 1900 and the advent of the First World War.

We have a nice selection of collegiate collectibles including tobacco gifts on our website: www.collectableivy.com

Linen Collegiate Postcards

October 1, 2019

There is something about the use of linen for postcards that adds such a great dimension to their eye appeal. Perhaps, the subtle use of colors or the fact that the images are slightly raised off the paper. We are big fans of them.

An early image of Harvard’s Medical School in linen

The Campanile at the University of California, Berkeley in linen

A view of South Hall on Columbia University’s Morningside Campus in linen with vintage automobiles in front

The Smithsonian Museum generally dates “Linen” postcards the 1930s through 1945 and technically aren’t even made from linen. “Linen” describes a higher than usual content of cotton fiber in the paper utilized that gives the cards their distinct texture. Linen postcards make great gifts for alumni or graduates and can be combined into frames to create collages, which in our context creates the tongue twisting “collegiate collages!”

An aerial view of the University of Chicago in linen

We have a nice selection of collegiate collectibles on our website including vintage linen postcards: www.collectableivy.com

Reed & Barton Damascene Etchings – Colleges and Universities

September 1, 2019

Reed & Barton produced a series of limited edition Damascene etchings for various Colleges and Universities. The prints are made with silver, 24 karat gold vermeil, burnished cooper and bronze. Reed & Barton was a prominent American silversmith manufacturer based in the city of Taunton, Massachusetts and is now owned by Lenox, although they no longer produce these etchings. The art is framed and measures 14 1/2 inches x 12 1/2 inches.

The etchings display beautifully with a surprising amount of detail in the artwork. Below are some representative etchings:

The University of California Berkeley  – Greek Theatre

Columbia University – Low Library

Damascene has a long history dating back centuries and was historically produced in locations that developed expertise in the technique such as Kyoto, Japan or Toldeo, Spain. The etchings were produced from the 1940s to the 1970s in limited editions. They are easy to maintain and were finished with a protective seal so that the copper and silver don’t need to be treated and don’t tarnish.

A lovely example of College Hall at the University of Pennsylvania

We have a nice selection of collegiate collectibles including Damascene etchings on our website: www.collectableivy.com

Vintage Collegiate Sheet Music

August 1, 2019

Vintage sheet music from old-line colleges and universities brings back a nostalgic feel. Popular between the 1890s and 1920s, these large format sheets typically have a beautiful cover illustration and inside contain by the sheet music and verse for one song. They were usually produced in “Tin Pan Alley,” a neighborhood in New York City that was replete with music publishers at the time.

The “Yale Blues” music below is a typical example, published by Leo Feist, one of a hard core of Tin Pan Alley publishers and at the time one of the top 10 music publishers in the world.

This Columbia University March is typical of the style with a beautiful illustrative cover:


Famous composers or lyricists that worked in Tin Pan Alley include Ira and George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, George Hammerstein, Richard Rogers and Scott Joplin. The genre was far ranging and included marches, waltzes and straight up collegiate songs.

Because of their age and scarcity we have only a limited selection of sheet music among our vintage collegiate collectibles. Please visit our website: www.collectableivy.com

A Harvard Alphabet

July 8, 2019

We recently discovered a delightful old book that brings to life Harvard at the turn of the 20th century. A Harvard Alphabet : The Verses by W.B.W and H.W.P. and Another : The Drawings by J.G.C. and R.E., hardcover book published in 1902 by W.B. Wheelwright and H.W. Palmer, The Harvard Co-Operative Society, Cambridge, Mass. The book goes through each letter of the alphabet and has a woodcut illustration accompanied by a Harvard themed poem for each.  Unsurprisingly, the students seem to engage in a lot of smoking and drinking, and of course digs at rival Yale.

The females illustrated are in full Victorian dresses and the men usually have on a sweater and tie or jacket and tie. Some sample verse below:

N is the Note Book we carry each day;

To while at dull lectures the hours away.

We fill it with pictures, with verses and jokes,

For we know when we please we can buy printed notes.

K is for Kegs, whose contents and dregs

We drain till our legs

No longer support us.

Like Omar Khayyam,

While we still have a dram

We don’t give a damn,

Let the Proctor report us.

The full identity of the authors beyond the initials they used in publishing the book are:  William Bond Wheelwright, Henry Webster Palmer, Floyd Reading Dubois (all 1901 alumni of Harvard).

We have a nice selection of collegiate collectibles on our website including lots of Harvardiana and hopefully a copy of A Harvard Alphabet: www.collectableivy.com

Vintage Felt Collegiate Pennants

February 27, 2019

Vintage collegiate pennants are one of the most popular collectibles for the alumni or collector, particularly older style pennants made of felt with the letters sewn on. Current pennants made by almost all schools are chintzy. Like a lot of what is made today it is mass produced with an eye toward maximizing profit, thus, low cost materials and a quick production process are of paramount importance. Not so in earlier eras, when companies took pride in what they made and thus items latest longer.

 

The vintage pennants also had more artful designs and often included unique and interesting depictions of the school’s mascots.

Some are also sought after because the mascot has subsequently changed, as with Dartmouth and Stanford.

We especially like this old-style Gothic lettering.

 

These vintage pennants can add style and panache to a dorm room or for home decor.

We have a nice selection of vintage pennants on our website: collectableivy.com

Will Hollingsworth – Art Deco Illustrator

February 7, 2019

Will Hollingsworth (William R. Hollingsworth, Jr.) was an artist who worked during the Art Deco Period. A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, Hollingsworth died by his own hand at the age of 34. We were recently inspired by his work, which graces some programs in the early 1930s. The prime specimen is the gorgeous Harvard Yale Regatta program from 1932, pictured below. In particular, the subtle and understated use of color stand out.

The Princeton Yale program from 1931, below, is another example of Hollingsworth’s work. The cover illustration is based on an original painting which was given to the writer of the best essay for a contest. Will graduated from the Art Institute in 1934 so these works were all done while he was a student.

 

Another example of his work, this time in an advertisement, also shows off his subtle use of color:

The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, where he lived, has a large collection of Hollingsworth’s work. We have a nice selection of vintage programs from various schools and universities on our website:

Website of Collectableivy.com

Abner J. Epstein Football Programs

September 28, 2018

We have previously written about vintage football programs done by talented and well known illustrators, namely, John Held, Jr., Winslow Williams, Willard Mullin, Ellison Hoover and Gib Crockett. Not surprisingly, most produced their work during the Art Deco period.


The beautiful 1928 Cornell vs. Dartmouth Football Program

Another fabulous program is the Cornell vs. Dartmouth program from 1928, illustrated by Abner J. Epstein. Epstein lived from 1910-1982 and illustrated for, among others The New Yorker and Esquire.  Graduating from Dartmouth in 1931, Abner Dean (his pen name) studied at the National Academy of Design. Dean also authored several illustrated books: And on the Eighth Day; It’s a Long Way to Heaven; and What Am I doing Here?

This football program illustration was done when Dean was a freshman at the college, thus it is signed with his birth name rather than his future pen name. Notice the expressive nature of the eyes on all three people featured on the cover. Absolutely brilliant.

We have a nice selection of vintage football programs on our website:

Collectableivy.com