I am a sucker for ephemera and can hardly leave an antiques store without an old post card, newspaper, map or such. The captivating old images, the (usually) reasonable price and ease of storage have resulted in me having quite a collection of paper goods.
What attracted me to this souvenir many years ago in a local antiques store was the Art Nouveau graphics. I’d always been a fan of design from that period but this piece had additional interests for me.
The Charleston Exposition’s full name was “The South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition”. Its purpose was to attract trade. It ran from December 1, 1901 until May 31, 1902 and was attended by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Its Charleston location is the present day home to Hampton Park and parts of The Citadel. The exposition hosted 20 different states including Pennsylvania who loaned Charleston the Liberty Bell for 5 months. In fact the bell was involved in a train wreck on the way to Charleston and could have been destroyed in the ensuing fire.
If any of you have ever gazed upon a field of cotton, the following line from “The Cotton Boll” will remind you of the vision of white:
To the remotest point of sight,
Although I gaze upon no waste of snow,
The endless field is white”
In the late summer, early fall, with a farmer’s permission I often pick some cotton for use in décor. I love to use it in wreaths, arrangements and have even stuck it in the Christmas tree like false snow.
Of course Charleston souvenirs are commonplace these days, so this early, uncommon one is extra special to me. Perhaps one day I’ll give it to the Timrod Library to hold in their South Carolina collections. Meanwhile, from time to time it is a treat to take it out and read the lyrical ode to cotton.