Q: Can you tell me something about my folding advertising card for Blackwell Durham Smoking Tobacco? When it is unfolded, you can see the face of Ulysses S. Grant. When it’s folded, the bottom half of Grant’s face is covered by half of another portrait so it looks like another person’s face. The verse under this second portrait is: “Come all you true born Democrats, you hardy hearts of oak, who know a thing when it is good and Blackwell’s Durham Smoke. Gaze on this face and you will see your presidential nominee, the sage and statesman S.J.T.” The verse under Grant’s portrait is: “And all you good Republicans will surely be enchanted when you behold the visage here and take the fact for Granted that he will win, if he will be Your Presidential nominee, the soldier hero U.S.G.” Another verse includes an ad for the tobacco, saying it “suits every taste, no matter what, Republican or Democrat.” Who is S.J.T.? When would this card have been made?
A: You have a famous metamorphic advertising card. It dates from 1876, the year Samuel J. Tilden (S.J.T.) was the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. president. Ulysses S. Grant was just finishing his second term in office and there was some talk of his running for a third term. The card must have been printed before the Republican nomination went to Rutherford B. Hayes. Cards that combined advertising and political messages were popular from about 1875 to 1920. They are now considered “cross-collectibles” wanted by collectors of political memorabilia and by collectors of antique advertising.