Presidents, eh? They’ve been quite the colourful bunch, and we’re not just talking about Donald Trump’s skin complexion. Take Abraham Lincoln, who was a competitive wrestler in his younger years. Then there was Warren Harding, who infamously had sex with his mistress in a White House wardrobe. We should also mention President Lyndon Johnson’s penchant for holding meetings with aides while sitting on the toilet (and there’s you thinking office Zoom calls can be awkward).
While Rick Harrison and co haven’t received any memorabilia connected to these particular stories – Lincoln’s leotards, say, or Lyndon Johnson’s can of Febreze – they’ve certainly had their pick of presidential items in Pawn Stars. To commemorate this year’s not-at-all-divisive-or-bonkers US election, let’s look back at six of the most fascinating to turn up on the show.
An inauguration handkerchief from 1892
Proving that tacky merchandising tat isn’t just a modern phenomenon, this 19th Century 'inauguration handkerchief' commemorating President Benjamin Harrison raised smiles in the pawn shop. But that was only because Rick Harrison and his clan are apparently distant descendants of the president – the item itself really wasn’t worth very much. Still, it does make you hold out hope for other unlikely inauguration-themed memorabilia that might be out there. An Obama inauguration shoehorn perhaps? A Nixon inauguration blancmange mould? Here’s hoping.
A signed photograph of Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln’s definitely one of the top-end, Taste the Difference presidents, quite unlike the many others who’ve fallen into obscurity (we’re looking at you, Millard Fillmore). This means anything tied to Honest Abe is highly collectable, which is why Rick Harrison was understandably excited about an actual photo signed by actual Lincoln. And not just any old photo, but the very photo that was the basis for Lincoln image featured on the one cent coin. 'Please for the love of God take my money,' Rick almost-but-didn’t-quite-say, purchasing the pic for a hefty $100,000.
Old scratchy footage of FDR
When a lady walked into the store clutching a film can simply labelled “FDR, 1882 – 1945”, there were high hopes it contained rare, never-seen footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only US president to be elected four times. Unfortunately, it turned out to contain not-rare, highly-seen-before footage that was already in the public domain. And if that proved frustrating for the seller and the Pawn Star boys alike, it was nothing compared to…
Lincoln’s chair (which maybe wasn’t)
When is a chair more than a chair? When it’s Abraham Lincoln’s dining chair which he rested his god-like backside on. Faced with the exquisite bit of vintage furniture, Rick was keen to check if this was the real deal or, to use another President’s favourite phrase, fake news. He brought in an expert and bluntly asked him, 'Is there a possibility that Abraham Lincoln’s butt touched this chair?' Unfortunately, there was no way to absolutely verify the claim, which was disappointing. Still: nice chair.
Ronald Reagan’s head
Sadly not a fantastic/horrifying example of human taxidermy, but actually a massive chunk of foam depicting Ronald Reagan’s beaming face. The seller had apparently nabbed it from the 1980 Republican Convention when he was a teenager, then clearly spent the next few decades trying to explain to friends and family why there was a giant Ronald Reagan head looming in the corner of his bedroom. 'My mom’ll be happy I’m getting rid of it too,' he said, eagerly accepting the $300 offer.
Lyndon Johnson’s golf ball
When a seller presented a golf ball to the gang and said it once belonged to President Lyndon Johnson, he was naturally asked how it came to be in his family’s possession. The answer was marvellous: 'He hit my dad with it down in Mexico.' Yes, President Johnson had carelessly shot the ball in the seller’s dad’s direction, thwacking him with it. The fellow quickly pocketed the offending ball, and thus it became a family heirloom. A truly tee-rific story.