Politics Makes for Strange Campaign Memorabilia

As the saying goes, politics makes for strange bedfellows. Although in the case of these items developed for Nebraska political candidates, it might be more accurate to say politics makes for strange campaign memorabilia.

Tiemann paper headdress (11959-21 & 22)

Paper headdress, “I Like Nobby” paper headdress from Norbert Tiemann’s gubernatorial campaign. (NSHS 11959-21 & 22)

Heintze hat card (7956-5949)

“Heintze for State Treasurer” hat card, “like heck it’s yours, put it back” (NSHS 7956-5949)

At first glance, this little pig and binoculars do not look like campaign memorabilia. When you look through the hole in the pig’s behind, however, you’ll see an image of William Jennings Bryan and the words “For President.” This funny little item is called a stanhope. Stanhopes contain miniature photographs and magnifying lenses and this technique was incorporated in many novelty collectibles produced from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Nebraskan William Jennings Bryan ran for president in 1896, 1900, and 1908, but was never elected. (NSHS 11055-926)

Stanhope Pig & Binoculars (11055-936)

In 1956 Terry Carpenter, delegate to the Republican National Convention from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, was unhappy about the lack of a challenger to Richard Nixon’s nomination as vice-president. Carpenter decided to protest by casting his vote for the fictional “Joe Smith,” throwing the convention into an uproar. Although “Smith” never made it to the ballot, the Democrats adopted him as an anti-Nixon symbol. Carpenter, known by some as “Terrible Terry,” served a term as a Nebraska congressman and many years as a state senator. He also ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate five times and for governor four times. He even created his own town just outside of Scottsbluff. 

Carpenter Park sign

Sign for Carpenter Park at Terry’s Lake (Source: Robert C. Pettit, Lincoln; F. C. Radke Collection, Courtesy of Joanna R. Cook, Evanston, Illinois)


Watertower at Terrytown, Nebraska (Source: Mark F. Radke, Columbus, Georgia; Nelle Bender Estate, Wymore)

Americus Liberator of Valentine, Nebraska, ran for president of the United States in 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980. In 1968 the retired cowboy campaigned on a platform of “Patriotism” and received 1,314 votes in the Nebraska primary election. Liberator was a Pennsylvania coal miner before drifting west to work on ranches in South Dakota and Nebraska. His parents had emigrated from Italy.  

 Americus Liberator

Source: Dory Marsh, on Behalf of Shirley and Frank Marsh, Lincoln. (NSHS 13002-3)

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