Trash or Treasure: Not all presidential souvenirs created equal

By Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Presidential souvenirs are avidly collected, but not all are created equal, appraiser Joelle Del Rose recently explained at an appraisal session held downtown at DuMouchelles. Sharon Oisten was among those gathered to find out more about their family heirlooms.

“My father-in-law, Chester Oisten, asked me to send the attached pictures of a note card that he has had for many years,” Sharon’s daughter-in-law, Teresa Oisten, wrote to the column originally hoping to secure a spot at the appraisal session and for some answers. “As you will see the note card refers to President Taft arriving in Jackson on June 4th.  This card has been carefully stored in tissue paper and I have also included the envelope that the card has been in dated May 21, 1910…he would like to know if there is any value to this?  He has held on to it for a very long time.”

Sharon, Chester’s wife, recently brought the card in and gave Del Rose a bit more background about the piece, which came to be in their possession through a friend who was cleaning out a store in Alma. Addressed to Hon. Archie Broomfield, it bears two dates, May 20, 1910 and a Jackson stamp on the front, and May 21 and a Big Rapids stamp on the back.

Sharon Oisten, of Allegan,  holds her letter.

“President Taft will arrive at Jackson 2:30 o’clock the afternoon of June 4,” the card inside reads. “The uncovering of the monument beneath the remaining oaks of the grove where the Republican Party was organized July 6, 1854, will take place immediately thereafter. The addresses will be made at Keeley Park where seats in the Grand Stand will be reserved for you upon request…”

William Howard Taft was the 27th U.S. president from 1909 to 1913, Del Rose reminded those in attendance. Unfortunately for the Oistens, Taft did not sign the card, which just includes a printed event announcement. “It’s definitely history, but not as important as if it were signed by Taft,” she explained. “Collectors are mainly looking for signatures.”

Nonetheless, “it’s exciting that it was saved,” she pointed out, adding that the name for paper items like this is officially “ephemera.” “There is a real sense of history here,” Del Rose added, valuing it at $50 but adding that it would be worth a lot more to a local historical society connected to the event. “We have been thinking about contacting the Jackson Historical Society,” Oisten said.

Del Rose said that would be a fitting place for the piece. “I’m just so happy that this was never tossed through the years,” she said. “Pieces like this are little bits of history and should be preserved.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.     

About this item: 

Item: Presidential invitation

Owned by: Chester and Sharon Oisten

Appraised by: Joelle Del Rose, DuMouchelles

Estimated value: $50