This week's SOTW comes with a free history lesson.
Many of you may have seen tumblers with highly detailed, etched portraits of William McKinley on them. They're reasonably common, come in many different forms and a quite collectible in and of themselves. They were produced as political ads back in the days before radio and TV during the run-up to the 1896 Presidential campaign.
In 1896, the White House was occupied by Democrat Grover Cleveland with Adlai Stevenson as his VP. The Republicans selected OH Governor William McKinley to be their candidate with Garret Augustus Hobart as his running mate. Hobart was from NJ. Meanwhile, the Democratic party was split by one of the major issues of the day: whether to use gold or silver as a monetary standard. President Cleveland ended up on the losing end of the debate and the nomination for Presidential candidate went instead to William Jennings Bryan, a NE Congressman. His running mate was Thomas E Watson of Georgia.
The ability to mass-produce thin glass shots and tumblers was a recent development and was seized upon by the political machines, just as the whiskey merchants saw the potential to use them to advertise their wares. Thus, the 1896 campaign is significant in that it represents the dawn of etched glass production and dissemination. Political tumblers seem to have been put in curio cabinets, probably because their etched portraits were so appealing, meaning that many have survived to this day both intact and in pristine condition. However, while I've seen many tumblers from the 1896 campaign, I'd never seen a shot until this past week. Here it is:
Note that some previous picks for "Shot of the Week" can be found in The Archives.
last updated: March 28, 2004
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