Archive for the ‘Princeton’ Category

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.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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Halcyon Days College Enamel Boxes

August 31, 2018

Halcyon Days is a British retailer that makes enamel trinket boxes, among other products, including watches and jewelry. We are interested in them because they are made selectively for select universities and colleges, although they are difficult to find since they are offered in limited quantities.

A Princeton University Halcyon Days Box

Halcyon Days boxes  have enjoyed Royal patronage, having been commissioned to produce designs for The Queen Mother, The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales. They were granted royal warrants as the first “Suppliers of Objets d’Art” between 1972 and 1987. Distribution of Halcyon Days Enamels is highly selective and is restricted to stores such as Tiffany’s and Neiman-Marcus.

Harvard University Halcyon Days Box

The box commissioned for Harvard is especially striking, designed by Tiffany & Co. The inside of the box has the Harvard logo and a “350” mark. The box was made in 1986 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Harvard’s founding. The front of the box shows a “View of Harvard” by Burgis-Price.

Yale celebrated its 300 year anniversary in 2001 with a Halcyon Days box. The front of the box shows a picture of Yale in 1807 with a football scrimmage near the Yale fence. The inside of the box has the Yale logo.

We have a nice selection of Halcyon Days boxes and other collegiate collectibles on our website:

Princeton is a Green Phoenix : F. Scott Fitzgerald.

September 14, 2017

F. Scott Fitzgerald is an icon of American literature. Fitzgerald attended Princeton, dropping out in 1917 to join the Army. In 1927 he wrote an essay about the University that he loved.

Fitzgerald: My Lost City: Personal Essays, 1920-1940 (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald) is a 340 page hardcover book, published in 2005. Twice during the last decade of his life, in 1934 and 1936, F. Scott Fitzgerald proposed a collection of his personal essays to Maxwell Perkins, his editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons. Perkins was unenthusiastic on both occasions and Fitzgerald dies in 1940 without having put his best essays between hard cover. Fortunately, Fitzgerald left behind a table of contents, and with this list as a guide it has been possible to publish this book the collection he envisioned.

The book includes a chapter on Princeton written in 1927. Fitzgerald writes, “Princeton is in the flat midlands of New Jersey, rising, a green Phoenix, out of the ugliest country in the world. Sordid Trenton sweats and festers a few miles south; northward are Elizabeth and the Erie Railroad and the suburban slums of New York; westward are the dreary upper purlieus of the Delaware River. But around Princeton, shielding her, is a ring of silence–certified milk dairies, great estates packed with peacocks and deer parks, pleasant farms and woodlands which we paced off and mapped down in the spring of 1917 in preparation for the war. The busy East has already dropped away when the branch line train rattles familiarly from the junction. Two tall spires and then suddenly all around you spreads out the loveliest riot of Gothic architecture in America, battlement linked on to battlement, hall to hall, arch-broken, vine-covered–luxuriant and lovely over two square miles of green grass. Hers is no monotony, no feel that it was all built yesterday at the whim of last week’s millionaire; Nassau Hall was already twenty years old when Hessian bullets pierced its sides.”

The Princeton chapter gives an interesting look at the pre-war University and its mores and traditions. He delves into the eating clubs and the admissions process, which is quite different than today’s.

The book is an undiscovered gem. Other chapters include his recollections of New York City, women and his philosophy of life. We have a nice selection of Princeton memorabilia on our website including My Lost City:

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Birds-Eye Views of the Ivy League

July 3, 2017

Harper & Brothers Publishers published an amazing book in 1895. It focuses on “Four American Universities,” specifically Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia. The 202 page book offers great historical context on each of the elite schools and includes over fifty nineteenth century illustrations of the schools. the piece-de-resistance of the book, however, are four fold out birds-eye views of the schools. In the pre-automobile era, each of the images show horse drawn carriages in front of the school and trolley cars.

Columbia University in 1895

The view seen above would look unfamiliar to the visitor to today’s campus because the view is looking North from Forty-ninth Street. The current campus in Morningside Heights opened in May of 1896. Rockefeller Center stands on the site of what is depicted.

Birds-Eye view of the Princeton Campus in 1895

The Princeton Campus along University Place shows a different campus than the one that exists today. Namely, several buildings were replaced over the years on the land that Rockefeller College now sits on: the Observatory, the old Tiger Inn and Reunion Hall.

The leafy campus of Yale as seen in the birds-eye view

The chapter in the book on Yale was written by Arthur T. Hadley who served as its president from 1899 to 1921.

The birds-eye view of Harvard 

The chapter on Harvard was written by the Harvard scholar Charles Eliot Norton.

We have a nice selection of Ivy League memorabilia includes Four American Universities on our website:

Princeton University Postcards

December 13, 2016

We were inspired to write about Princeton postcards recently after exploring a delightful book titled Princeton: A Picture Postcard History of Princeton and Princeton University.


This well researched book details some interesting nuances about early Princeton postcards. We always knew that the “card” series of postcards were highly collectible and sought after. We didn’t realize that there were eight cards produced in the series. Four “College Queens” including Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and Harvard were accompanied by four “College Kings” which included Cornell, Michigan, Columbia and the University of Chicago. The cards were issued before the formation of the Ivy League by Raphael Tuck & Sons of England and Michigan and Chicago were at the time football rivalries to the eastern schools.


Raphael Tuck & Son’s claim to fame was they were “Art Publishers to Their Majesties the King and Queen.”

We also learned that the “Big Cannon” depicted in the postcard below was the larger of two field pieces abandoned by the British during the American Revolution.


The postcard below depicts Patton Hall shown just before the Second World War when it was the last dormitory to the south of the main campus. You can see the remote nature this part of the campus had with grass tennis courts in front of the dorm. The building was named for Francis Landey Patton who was the president of the University when it was renamed from the College of New Jersey to Princeton.


Visit our website for a nice collection of collegiate memorabilia include postcards:

Collegiate Flag Pins

April 30, 2016

Classic collegiate pins in the shape of a flag is a nice collectible item and a nice way to show off your school spirit. Most of the pins alumni find desirable were produced in the 1910s, ’20s and ’30s.


The most elegant are those made of sterling silver, which almost always have a “sterling” mark on the rear of the pin. The sterling designation means that the metal is 92.5% silver, with the remaining consisting of other metals.


Many pins are made in a cloisonné fashion with an enamel material for the actual flag:



brown flag

We have a nice selection of pins and other collegiate items on our website: