Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Online Museum of Historical Kitsch Continues

I haven't posted any more accessions to the Online Museum of Historical Kitsch in almost two years. Not because I haven't seen any -- the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum was a monument to kitsch unto itself. I'm just lazy and often out of batteries (digital cameras do suck the power up, don't they?)

Here are the contributions of the National Archives Gift Shop. In addition to the Obama Mania Souvenir Crap, including the FDR and Clinton BB games, we have other contributions from the National Archives Gift Shop.

First up, we have Rosie the Riveter "Empowermints!" Need equal rights and fresh breath? "You Can Do It!":
These reminded me a little too much of Testamints. I couldn't decide if the makers of "Empowermints" just took a tacky idea and marketed it as feminist souvenir crap, or that the tacky idea occurred in different places, or what.

"Empowermints" sat on the "Rosie the Riveter" wall: Here you have your ubiquitous posters and t-shirts, along with coffee mugs, water bottles, lunch boxes, bookends and plush dolls. Some of this schwag was over at the Smithsonian American History Museum gift shop too. Quite interesting given that the actual poster appears in the exhibits of neither the History Museum or the National Archives.

I confess, I almost purchased one of the plush dolls. Then, I saw her competition: That's Susan B. Anthony. She's holding a sign saying "Equal Rights for Women" and a sash saying "Votes for Women." I'm not sure if Susan B. Anthony ever did these things, but her tag said that's who the doll was supposed to depict. I just thought she was a suffragist when I saw her. A suffragist with grey hair, no less, which won my greying-headed little heart.

I had to decide between Rosie and Susan B., until I saw this collection:
That would be Amelia Earhart, George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower (in military uniform, not presidential uniform, because generals have cooler outfits than presidents), Teddy Roosevelt with his very own teddy bear, and Abigail Adams. Funny that they have Abigail but not John. A bid to include the white girls or a statement that Abigail was more interesting than John?

Again, I confess that I coveted the Amelia Earhart doll, despite the fact that her hair was historically inaccurate. Her hair was never long enough to peek out from beneath her cap in the back. Perhaps bangs in the front (which would have been tucked in) were not enough to convey her femininity, something she herself was concerned about projecting.

The gift shop also had: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Banneker. Yeah, that's a likely duo. Although, to be fair, they did correspond. Once.

You can also purchase the entire Lewis and Clark expedition: Well, maybe not the entire expedition. Just Lewis, Clark, York and the dog. Sacajawea, her baby, and any other Native American must be packaged elsewhere. Right?

In any case, I did not buy Rosie, or Susan B., or even Amelia. I couldn't decide, then decided that I really had no business buying any of them. The pictures would suffice.

Had they a Frederick Douglass, however, I would have been all over it.

I do have a Frederick Douglass version of one of these:
Albert Einstein, George Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman combination finger puppets and magnets. Eleanor is wearing a "fox fur" stole.

Lest all of the plushness and dollness be considered too girly, the shop also sells "action figures":
Benjamin Franklin holds a little kite with a key. George Washington holds an American Flag, and Thomas Jefferson holds a scroll that is supposed to be the Declaration of Independence. These are the "American Patriots." All of them.

Sadly, neither the shop nor the museum had a souvenir penny flattener. "We The People" would look so wonderfully tasteless smashed into a penny! Kind of appropriate, too.


Ann said...

Hi, Clio B.--love the kitschy kitsch! I've given you an award--the details are at

Maude Lebowski said...

it looks like the museum just went on-line and bought everything from the unemployed philosopher's guild, which i like, but i'm not sure i like it in the national archives gift shop. i could, though, use some empowermints these days.

Clio Bluestocking said...

Historiann, why thank you! Also, based on my SiteMeter reports of referals from your site, you have a zillion readers!

Maude, I LURVE the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild! How did I not know about that before? (Mentally sending you empowermints and empowerment.)

latenightlatte said...

I would have probably had to buy the Lewis and Clark expedition (accurate depiction or not) for the boat.

Always liked the penny machines. Then I saw one at a 'museum' recently charging $1. Weren't they a quarter last time I looked?

Clio Bluestocking said...

Late night latte: A dollar? Dang, you might as well buy a regular souvenir!

The boat was rather cool.

bitternsweet said...

OMG, I would spend a FORTUNE at that store!


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