Teddy Roosevelt Campaign Bandanna | A Rare and Beautiful Bull Moose Textile | Circa 1912

Teddy Roosevelt Campaign Bandanna with Moose - BONSELL | AMERICANA
Teddy Roosevelt Campaign Bandanna with Moose - BONSELL | AMERICANA

Teddy Roosevelt Campaign Bandanna | A Rare and Beautiful Bull Moose Textile | Circa 1912

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Frame Size (H x L): 27” x 30”  
Bandanna Size (H x L): 20” x 23”

Offered is a rare 1912 Teddy Roosevelt campaign bandanna.  It is printed on red silk with beige and black designs of Teddy’s hat and three moose head.  The large moose head in the center is surrounded by a red and white floral pattern, and the pattern is surrounded by a red border.  The Progressive Party campaigned heavily with the use of flags and bandannas, yet this style is particularly difficult to encounter.    

Campaign bandannas were initially produced beginning in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, but became a particularly popular campaign tool in the time period between 1850 and 1920.  They were worn, presented in store fronts, waved in parades, flown at political rallies, and hung from buggy whips. 

An example of this bandanna is documented in the Threads of History, written by Herbert Ridgeway Collins (see item number 939).  Mr. Collins was the curator of the Division of Political History at the Smithsonian Institute.  His book is the best reference available for political textile collectors and includes over fifteen-hundred examples, dating from 1775 to 1979.  In writing his book, Mr. Collins sent thousands of letters to collectors, museums, and universities, and requested their assistance in his quest to document every known political textile.   

Theodore Roosevelt—a writer, soldier, naturalist, and statesmen—was the 26th president of the United States from 1901 until 1909.  Roosevelt was elected as the governor of New York in 1898, and in this position, he was a reformer who was best known for removing corrupt officials and regulating corporations.  Such actions irritated Republican leaders.  And in response, they urged him to run as the vice presidential nominee with William McKinley in 1900, the thought being that Roosevelt's vice presidential role would be ceremonial in nature and sidetrack him from continuing to reform and regulate.  In 1901, however, McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt became the youngest president in history. 

Roosevelt was known for raising awareness of the nation's role in world politics, trust busting, regulating the railroads, and continuing to fight political corruption.  Notably, in 1902, Roosevelt intervened in the anthracite coal strike upon threats to cut off heating fuel for homes, schools, and hospitals.  He responded by stating that the army would run the mines, and by having Wall Street withhold credit to the coal companies and dump their stocks.  His actions ended the strike and resulted in a pay increase for the miners.  This was the first time that a President had publically intervened in a labor dispute for the laborers, and he characterized his actions as working toward a "Square Deal" between capital and labor.  This became Roosevelt's slogan in his 1904 election, in which he ran against democratic contender Alton Parker.  Roosevelt overwhelmingly defeated him by 336 electoral votes to 140.  He carried every region in the Union, minus the South.  

In 1908, Roosevelt honored his promise not to run for a third term, and he persuaded William Taft to become his Republican successor.  Taft defeated William Jennings Bryan for the presidency in 1908, and he defeated Roosevelt for the Republican nomination in 1912.  Taft was a conservative republican, and Roosevelt was a progressive republican.  Because of this difference and Roosevelt's frustration with not getting the Republican Party's nomination, he formed the Progressive Party, nicknamed the Bull Moose Party following a letter from Roosevelt declaring that he considered himself "as strong as a bull moose."  Roosevelt argued for a "New Nationalism" in support of greater governmental regulation and promotion of social welfare, in hopes of attracting votes from the Democratic nominee, Woodrow Wilson.  Despite Roosevelt's message and popularity, Wilson easily defeated him by 435 electoral votes to Roosevelt's 88.  The Progressive Party elected very few candidates, and as a result, Roosevelt knew it was not a viable long-term party.  He kept it alive, but only to the extent that he could use it as a bargaining chip for his return to the Republican Party.

Conservation Process: This bandanna was hand sewn to cotton fabric, and both were hand sewn to a mounting board.  To prevent the black dye in the cotton fabric from seeping into the bandanna, it was first washed in a standard wash and then in a dye setting wash.  The bandanna is positioned behind a UV resistant acrylic, and spaced apart therefrom using spacers.    

Condition Report: This bandanna has minor stains throughout its surface, particularly in the white portions and, most notably, the black stain above the center moose’s head.  However, despite these flaws, the bandanna presents very well and is a statement piece.    

Collectability Level: The Great – Perfect for Rising Collectors  
Date of Origin: 1912  

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