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The political game: Election memorabilia soars during presidential campaign years

Posted at 4:07 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 18:21:04-04

"The only thing she's got going is the woman's card."

That off-the-cusp statement Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made back in April is putting a spin on a traditional game.

“We have Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, [Harriet] Tubman who will be on the next $20 bill,” explained Maddie Kramer. “And we also have Lady Di[ana], Eva Perón - so it's different countries, not just the United States.”

Argentina-born Maddy Kramer now works in Kansas City as an art director. She came up with the Woman Card Project - a deck of cards made up of 51 women who changed the world. All of the cards are queens, except one – a joker, emblazoned with Trump’s face. 

While the concept is Kramer's, the designs were created from artists around the globe.

Maddy Kramer created the Woman Card idea.

 

“It gives a little bit of the perspective,” said Kramer. “All these women have created so many good things for us. So many inventors that people don't know about. And Hillary Clinton, who is running as the first nominated woman president, and Mary Curie, who is great.”

Election year memorabilia is not only used to make a statement. Political buffs also collect political memorabilia.

“To me, if you have an example of something used in a campaign, it's the physical representation of a part of our history,” said Don Dagenais, a Kansas City political memorabilia collector. “You can really learn a lot about American history just by learning about the issues that were alive during presidential campaigns.”

Dagenais began collecting back during the President Richard Nixon era. It all started with a pin he received at an event. Since then, he gathered items across decades and party lines. Currently, his collection of election year memorabilia spans two centuries. And while it may appear that this year's campaign is full of finger-pointing and vitriol, he said politics have never been for the faint of heart. Case in point - William Henry Harrison's campaign of 1840.

“He said he was born in a log cabin. It was an attempt by his campaign to show that he was a man of common origin, just one of the common people,” he explained. “But it was a big lie. William Henry Harrison was born to a wealthy family in Virginia and his home was a mansion, and yet they sold it as a log cabin candidate. Lying is nothing new in American politics.”

As for Kramer, she expects to complete her card set soon. She wants to share them with schools, so students can learn about women who changed history. And she even wants to take it a step further so buyers can build their own sets made up of their favorite women writers, politicians, artists, scientists, inventors, philanthropists and the like.

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Terra Hall can be reached at terra.hall@kshb.com.

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