MRS PRESIDENT CLEVELAND : TRADE CARD : ADVERTISING “THE BEST BREWING COMPANY”

Meet “Mrs President Cleveland”. In the era of Grover Cleveland’s Presidencies, wives were just extensions of their husbands and their names, were at times, irrelevant. Mrs President Cleveland was actually Frances Cleveland (1864-1947). Grover Cleveland served two terms as President. He was the 22nd and 24th President and the only President to serve non consecutive terms. He began his terms in 1885 and 1893. Enough about Grover, there is plenty to say about Frances. She was born in Buffalo, New York. Her given first name was “Frank”, but she feminized it later. She was named after an uncle. Her father was an attorney and was a close friend of Grover Cleveland. Cleveland met Frances when she was a baby and he was twenty-seven years old. He watched Frances grow up and showed a caring interest in her. When Frances lost her father in a carriage accident, she was only eleven years-old. Cleveland became the administrator of her father’s estate and this position put him in more contact with her. While Frances was in college, Cleveland developed romantic feeling toward her and in 1885, he proposed to her. At age 21, she was the youngest wife of a President. Frances received much attention from the newspapers and magazines of the time. Her wedding was widely covered. John Phillip Sousa led the Marine band at her wedding. Throughout her husband’s terms, many American women imitated her hairstyle and her fashion taste. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was very critical of the way Frances dressed. They did not appreciate her baring her shoulders and wearing low cut dresses. They prepared a petition of protest which the first lady ignored. Grover and Frances had five children, three daughters and two sons. She was first first lady to give birth while her husband was President. Her first born, Ruth, died at age twelve of diphtheria. The “Baby Ruth” candy bar was named after her. Grover Cleveland died in 1908. About four years later, Frances married a professor of archaeology at her alma mater, Wells College. When World War I started, she joined the pro-war National Security League and became an officer of the organization. She created much controversy with the league when she claimed that a large segment of the American population was unassimilated and preventing the country from working together efficiently. Adding to the stir was that she recommended that school children should be psychologically indoctrinated to be in favor of the war. All this self initiated commotion caused her to resign in 1919. Frances Cleveland was no friend of the Women’s Suffrage movement. She cemented the disfavor of the movement when she said that “women weren’t yet intelligent enough to vote”. In 1913, she was elected as vice president of the “New Jersey Association Opposed to Woman’s Suffrage”. On a more politically correct note, during the Great Depression she led the “Needlework Guild of America’s clothing drive for the poor. Immediately after her wedding, the facial image of Mrs Cleveland began appearing in advertising aimed at selling various products such as sewing kits, cigars, and women’s perfume. Frances was a perfect model for companies looking to advertise. She was young, pretty, and vivacious. One form of advertising that employed Mrs Cleveland’s image to sell products, was trade cards, such as the one seen above. This trade card aims to sell “The ‘Best’ Tonic” which was produced by “The Philadelphia Best Brewing Company”. Advertising on this tradecard declares that the brewing company will send a 19″ x 25″ portrait of Frances Cleveland to customers that send in twelve coupons from their “Best Tonic”product.  This trade card was printed by the Julius Bien (1826-1909) Lithograph Company of New York. This vintage trade card is in good condition (see scans).   (SOLD)