The Ivy League Today

November 11, 2015

Students all over America are clamoring to get into one of the eight Ivy League colleges. This is the first book to show the layman just how these venerable schools shape up today. The combined enrollment of the eight schools on only 29,700 male students, a small proportion of the total college enrollment. Brown is training its freshman and sophomores to think for themselves it its Identification Criticism of Ideas curriculum. Columbia’s magnificent Contemporary Civilization course has been widely imitated. But Columbia alone among the Ivy group wants to double its college enrollment in the next few years and raise its academic standards so high that only half of its present undergraduates could even gain admission there. Cornell is managing to stress a liberal-arts approach to education, even though it is the largest and most complicated school in the League. At Dartmouth seniors must take the Great Issues course. This means reading The New York Times and other periodicals regularly; listening to outside lecturers like Dean Acheson, Harold Urey, and Clement Attlee; and trying to apply  to present-day problems the knowledge they have gained during four years of college. Harvard is still tops academically, and still favors complete intellectual freedom for students and faculty alike. At Pennsylvania, President Gaylord P. Harnwell, a foremost atomic scientist, not only administers a sprawling university  but teaches a freshman class himself to keep his hand in. Princeton offers three unique programs: in American Civilization, in Creative Arts, and in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. At Yale, President Griswold has been trying to stimulate the exceptional student with the new Directed Studies Program.


The above quote is from the book jacket blurb of The Ivy League Today was written in 1961 by Frederic A. Birmingham and published by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company. The subtitle is: A light-hearted reappraisal of all 8 colleges. Birmingham (Dartmouth ’33) spent nearly three years visiting the Ivy campuses, talking with students and comparing one school to another. It’s rather quaint to think that cutting edge thinking in 1961 included reading The Times periodically to expand the mind. The most striking contrast I found after reading the book was how much the world has change in the last 50 or so years, particularly in how women are viewed and treated generally. Below is a sampling of gems from the book, which really provides a nice retro look into the psyche of the Ivy League not so long ago.


Frederic A. Birmingham


Harvard is admittedly the nation’s number one educational institution as well as its oldest. Harvard College leads all others in number of graduates in Who’s Who. The Harvard undergraduate turns to intellectual pursuits with a zest he reserves for primary business. He tends to look on his college career with more than ordinary seriousness, and in this he is stimulated by everything that touches him at Harvard. Statistically the student finds the college just a overpowering. The market value of Harvard investments is $625,102,000; its endowment funds are an estimated $370,773,000. President Lowell once remarked that “every educated man should know a little of everything and something well.”



The Princeton student himself, in this happy setting, lives on a campus of extraordinary sweep and beauty. There are a full 2,225 acres of it, and every inch is superbly landscaped and groomed like some fine English estate–an effect not spoiled by the predominantly “Collegiate Gothic” buildings, which are studded with hidden quadrangles, turrets, arches, balconies and gateways. She may love or love him not, but one thing is sure, and it is that the Princetonian’s girl is going to enjoy no nightly trysts in her lad’s quarters. She is allowed to visit him on weekdays until 7 pm and on Friday and Saturday nights until the bacchanalian hour of nine. The much misunderstood social life at Princeton still centers around its eating clubs.


Dartmouth, founded as an Indian school and until quite recently considered quite remote in New Hampshire, has an outdoor tradition suggesting some of the newer colleges in the Southwest or the Northwest. Dartmouth is the American dream of a college come true. Traditionally goodness and purity dwell in the rural areas, and wickedness in the city. Nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains, Dartmouth still preserves its Indian heritage. The Dartmouth student does not live in monastic seclusion, as he one did. But his is still a simple life relatively free of the female presence or influence, and he must go far, even though he may go fast for sophisticated pleasures. There is much to be said for a college that, while happily attuned to the sophisticated Ivies, still gives its students a chance to get up early in the morning and drive along back roads where a glimpse of small game, deer or even bear is not uncommon. City boys find a lot of learning in the feel of an ax handle or in the sharp tang of a sawmill.


On Brown’s College Hill the descendants of the great skippers and the lordly merchants live as their aristocratic forebears did, in three- and four-story mansions, with a courtly air you cannot match except in the deep South. Cobbled drives curve in under their porte-cocheres, gardens and terraces are hidden by beautiful ivied walls, and the columned and porticoed fronts look down on the visitor with the benign and courteous gravity of wealth long entrenched. Brown is ancient but not antique. In eighteenth-century buildings students learn to program IBM machines or how to smash the atom.


“Self-sufficient” is probably the best word for Cornell. The students do not seem to care particularly whether they are regarded as the Ivy League or out of it. But they look down on their fellows at Colgate, Syracuse and Hamilton as unworthy neighbors sometimes grouped with Cornell only because of an irritating proximity.” When Cornell’s first little coed walked up the gorge path to her classes on the hill, the public was profoundly shocked. And it was shocked again in the nineties, when Cornell sent its women’s eight-oared crew out to churn up the waters of Lake Cayuga, in a day when proper young ladies were supposed to concentrate on needle-point and piano lessons.


Columbia draws one-third of its student body from New York City itself, and a second third from the metropolitan area surrounding the city. The “Ivy” idea is not carried through fanatically at Columbia. There are no dreamy lakes or lagoons on the campus. Just a few fountains, hundreds of steps, brick walks, and a couple of plots of crabgrass. No luxurious fraternity houses, with the brothers tossing a football around on spacious lawns. No golf course. No regal faculty row where the better-heeled professors live. The school is a paradox. Great athletes–and not first-class athletic equipment. A glittering record of intellectual achievement–by students many of whom come by subway. But the spirit of Columbia is well-nigh explosive. One of the pleasures of Columbia is contact with the girls of “associated” Barnard College, although the boys are loath to admit it. The average undergrad naturally desires a female companion composed of equal parts of Mata Hari, Cleopatra, Madame Curie, Florence Nightingale, Marilyn Monroe, and The Girl Next Door; and the Barnard girls are generally considered lacking in some of these qualities.


It is no wonder that the undergraduate here clutches his tie a little more tightly and dresses a little more self-consciously “Ivy” that his counterpart at Princeton. He shares, besides, the latent inferiority complex of all the Ivy schools with respect to the Big Three [Harvard, Yale, Princeton]. He is much more caste-conscious than a Columbia student–who may eschew Ivy clothes entirely for a more cosmopolitan drape. the Penn boy is almost uniformly found in the symbolic button-down shirt with foulard tie , Shetland jacket and unpressed pants.


Formerly it was always a good guess that a Yale man was also a prep school man. In 1935, 77.9 per cent of the undergraduates were from prep schools. The Yale student thinks of himself not as a boy but as a man, and a good part of the time he dresses like one. The Yalie buys these accouterments from Brooks Brothers and a few other conservative stores in New York. The most characteristic thing about student life at Yale is the emphasis on doing. The active man is the valuable man. This is an educational community frankly enamored of the dynamic.

Sex and the Ivy League

The elitism in the book is nothing short of astonishing looking back through today’s standards. Consider the chapter about women, which leads off with this beauty, “The Ivy male, as we have seen, is a creature of tradition and habit. He chooses his women as he does his ties. He selects only those his classmates will approve. And, by custom, the girls are almost invariably college students. In his dating habits the Ivy male displays plenty of ardor but very little social adventure. But even through occasionally he may be tempted by the undulations of a “town” girl crossing his own campus, he probably will not date her.”

We have a copy of The Ivy League Today on our website and loads of other vintage collectibles from the Ivy League schools:

The Cornell Widow Magazine

October 25, 2015

Widow was Cornell’s monthly humor magazine was published by students from 1894 through the 1960s. It’s hey-day was during the Art Deco period, when their student illustrators did spectacular works capturing the zeitgeist of the period. Some example of the Widow from the 1920s and 1930s:



The November 1923 issue cover


The January 1924 cover of Widow Magazine


And an illustration from within the January 1924 magazine


April 1925 Cornell Widow Magazine


June 1925 Cornell Widow Magazine

We have some nice vintage copies of the Cornell Widow for sale on our website as well as other collectibles from Cornell and other colleges.

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Stanford Football Collectibles

October 1, 2015

College football season is upon us and anticipation is building for the upcoming Big Game on November 21st to be played in Berkeley, a rivalry that begin in 1892. There is nothing to get you in the mood more than recounting previous contests and the rich heritage of the two teams.

DSCF9434-001This Stanford Illustrated Review features a fantastic Art Deco cover from 1927 showing various Stanford fans at the Big Game

roos brothers

A pair of nice old megaphones. Vintage Stanford and one for U.C. Berkeley each in the school’s colors.

big game pins

Pins for the Big Game feature old program covers of previous games

Our website has a nice selection of Big Game memorabilia and programs:

Cornell University Wedgwood Plates

September 23, 2015

The Wedgwood Company of Etruria England produced a beautiful set of dinner plates based on Cornell University in 1933.  The plates featured a dozen scenes from the Cornell Campus including “The Crescent” as they called it, now known as Schoellkopf Field:



It also featured the statue of Ezra Cornell on campus:


And the Library Tower:


Other buildings on campus that were included in the series were: Sage Chapel, the War Memorial, Balch Halls, Baker Laboratory, Willard Straight Hall, Sibley Dome, McGraw Hall, Myron Taylor Hall and Goldwin Smith Hall. In addition to the blue centered plates with a white border depicted above the plates were also issued in a series with blue borders. Within the border it depicts various vignettes from around Campus:

sibleyThe McGraw Hall Wedgwood Plate

We offer a nice selection of Cornell and other collegiate Wedgwood plates on our website:

Collectableivy featured in Country Living Magazine

August 29, 2015

We are pleased to once again be featured in the September, 2015 issue of Country Living Magazine, highlighting our expertise in vintage football programs in their resource guide.



We offer a wide range of collegiate collectibles and unique items:


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Gift Ideas – Vintage College and University Song Books

July 6, 2015

Nothing gets the heart of a college grad pumping like the song of their school. An ideal gift for the collegiate alumni who has everything? How about a vintage book of songs from their alma mater. The books typically include both the sheet music and the lyrics for all the songs.

The vintage Cornell Songs published in 1915 includes All Round the World Cornell, Hail Thou in Majesty Cornell, The Cornell Cheer, Cornell Victorious and many more, including the school’s “Alma Mater” or official song of “Cornell,” which predates the current “Far above the Cayuga’s Waters.”

cornell songs

The 1902 published Harvard Songs includes a collection of 27 songs (including the sheet music) sung at Harvard including “Johnny Harvard” and “Fair Harvard”. Selected Songs Sung at Harvard College from 1862 to 1866 was one of the earliest song books published and dates from 1866. It also includes “The Marseillaises,” which was later changed to “On to Victory” and is a football fight song. It was originally written by Bill Reid, who was football coach in 1901. He was jealous of the fact that Princeton and Yale had football songs and approached the head of the Harvard Glee Club, Paul Dillingham to write one.

harvard songs



The 1905 Decennial of Stanford Song includes words and music of the “football, farce, drinking and other songs of Stanford University Some include songs that would no longer be politically correct. Stanford’s song book includes The Drinking Song, Down with California, Stanford Mandalay, Chin Chin Chinaman, Stanford Red and many more. The book also contains a history of the evolution of the songs and trace how they came into being in the University’s early years.

stanford songs

Stanford’s song book also contains nice hand-drawn illustrations that compliment the themes of some songs, such as the one below which patronizes the University of California.


Songs of Western Colleges published in 1902 includes the University of Chicago, Michigan and Stanford University songs such as “Hail, Sanford, Hail!”, “A Football Song – Leland Stanford University”, “John D. Rockefeller – University of Chicago”.


Princeton’s song book is titled Carmina Princetonia was first produced in 1869 and takes its name from Carmina Burana, an ancient satirical song book. It is believed that the Carmina Burana contained the first “drinking songs.” Princeton’s book includes the “soul-stirring songs Old Nassau and The Triangle Song which no Princeton man ever forgets or wants to forget.”


What is the earliest college song? It is hard to say definitively, however, “Hail Columbia” would be a good choice. Written by John Hopkinson, Class of 1786 at the University of Pennsylvania. The song played an important part in rallying support around President Washington during a serious political disturbance.


We have a nice collection of vintage song books for sale on our website:

Little Codfish Cabot at Harvard – Art Deco Illustrations

May 31, 2015

A lovely little book published in 1924 Little Codfish Cabot at Harvard has a some nice Art Deco period illustrations:


The text is written by Samuel H Orwday, Jr. (Harvard ’21) and the illustrations were done by F Wenderoth Saunders (Harvard ’24). The book tells the story of “Little Codfish Cabot who was born into the precincts of Harvard Yard. His father was a Cabot and his mother was a Cod. The Fish Part is Generic.”


The book tells the story from Cabot’s early childhood until he graduates from Harvard:


The above picture includes the caption, “While still very young he was sent to a New England Church School; but not before he had been soaked with atmosphere – which left him a little foggy because he was so young.”



The above pictures includes the caption, “He persuaded his father to give him an automobile in which he took chippies riding on the river bank; and, when he grew tired of that, to Revere Beach.” Chippies are  promiscuous young women.  Ordway would also write several other books besides the Little Codfish, they include An Elegant History of New York Society for Young Persons of Quality (1927), An Elegant History of Political Parties (1928) and The Intellect is a Brute (1929).


The book is laced with Harvard tidbits including the mention of many clubs, “Because he also made the Phoenix, and the Stylus, and the Signet, and the Hasty Pudding, and the Liberal Club — the last to show he was democratic and an independent thinker,–his father had to double his allowance to pay dues.”

The illustrator, Francis Saunders, began his art training at what is now called the Massachusetts School of Art. He received an A.B. in 1924, an A.M. in 1926 and an Ed.M. in 1934 in Fine Arts from Harvard. In 1925, he received a fellowship from Harvard and spent the year traveling and drawing in Europe. In addition, he studied painting for two summers with Professor Allen Philbrick at the Chicago Art Institute.

Visit our website where we have a nice selection of vintage Harvard memorabilia:



Princeton’s Eating Clubs

March 7, 2015


Members of Princeton’s Ivy Club from 1902-1903

Princeton University has taken an unconventional approach to fraternities and sororities: there are none. Instead the school has eleven “Eating Clubs”. If you have ever had the good fortune to drive down Prospect Avenue as you approach the center of Princeton, you will no doubt be impressed. The collection of buildings are individually architecturally significant, but taken together, each designed in a unique style, they are quite a collection.  The eleven eating clubs are:

Cannon Dial Elm Club
Cap and Gown
Charter Club
Cloister Inn
Colonial Club
Cottage Club
Ivy Club
Quadrangle Club
Terrace Club
Tiger Inn
Tower Club

The clubs are open to upperclassman (and women) only. Some have a selective approach, others a more open approach. The students take their meals at the club and they also contain recreation facilities (game rooms, billiards, libraries) and places to socialize.

DSCF9280-001Princeton’s Tower Club

The first eating club was established in 1879 (The Ivy Club). The club’s have various history books they have published that include insights into their formation and inner workings. A history of the Tower Club published in 1928 shows the approach the club took. They state that the design of the building was such that it takes care of “Service” which may be kept segregated or not. “The house was designed first to be practical, then comfortable, then artistic without ostentation.”



The Cottage Club

Pictured above is the Cottage Club, whose most well-known member was F. Scott Fitzgerald. Jimmy Stewart was a member of the Charter Club. The books offer interesting and historic insights into the organization and running of the unique clubs over the years.

DSCF9278-001The cozy interior of the Ivy Club

We offer several vintage eating club books on our website and other Princeton memorabilia:

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The Mask & Wig Club, University of Pennsylvania

November 15, 2014

The University of Pennsylvania’s  Mask & Wig club is an all-male comedy troupe with a rich history that was founded in 1889. The troupe features music, dancing and comedy and travels around the country to perform. Old Mask & Wig programs are sought after collectibles and feature imaginative covers:



The 1942 Mask & Wig Program


The 1938-1939 Program 

The covers illustration shows Manhattan at the center with Queens identified as “Vast Unexplored Territories” and Brooklyn as “Who Cares?” and was done by Bo Brown. Brown was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and his works appeared in The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker.

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Leland Stanford University at the beginning of the 20th Century

October 19, 2014

We recently came cross a vintage souvenir of Stanford University, Photo Gravures in excellent condition. Original red paper wraps with tie string still tight. Produced by the Albertype Company, Brooklyn and copyright 1900 by H.W. Simkins, Bookseller and Stationer, Palo Alto.




20 pages of turn of the century images including the faternity houses, the museum, the north facade, inner quadrangle and more. A fantastic collectible, would make a great gift for the Stanford alumni.


Three well dressed students with their bicycle


We specialize in collectibles of well known universities:


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