Monday, June 7, 2004

Remembering, as only Americans could

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Within moments of Ronald Reagan's death, the trickling of the former president's collectible items onto the online bidding site eBay turned into a torrent.

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By Sunday evening, more than 4,000 items appeared on a search for items containing the words "Ronald Reagan."

In the spirit of capitalism that Reagan promoted as president during the 1980s, more than 3,400 of these items had appeared after Saturday at 1 p.m. Pacific time, when the "Great Communicator" passed away.

Amid the 80 pages of Reagan collectibles were the predictable items: magazines with Reagan gracing their covers, autographed photographs, campaign buttons, bobble-head dolls, beanie babies, Reagan's many movies.

But a deeper look through the list revealed the more obscure items, like the Ronald Reagan plastic dog toy, the Ronald Reagan teapot with an elongated nose serving as a spout, and the painfully ugly Ronald and Nancy Reagan salt and pepper shakers (starting bid: $75).

Little did we know the 40th president once promoted cigarettes, as shown in a 1949 ABC Chesterfield ad ("My cigarette is the MILD cigarette"), or that, in a 1952 V-8 vegetable juice ad discovered that the drink "has lively flavor and goodness no juice can match!"

There were the vintage collectible items - like copies of Reagan's high school yearbooks, the Dixonian.

The 1926 yearbook from the Gipper's sophomore year is signed by Reagan (starting bid: $750).

The former president and first lady signed baseballs and golf balls, appeared on belt buckles and Christmas ornaments, and graced the feet of proud Americans in the Ronald and Nancy slippers, all available on eBay.

They appeared in photos with the King of Pop (Michael Jackson) and the Prince of Saudi Arabia (Fahd), with Pope John Paul II and with Frank Sinatra.

Perhaps the oddest item, more so than the "Vintage Emo punk style Ronald Reagan shirt" from his second inauguration day in 1985 or the Reagan political pin in Hebrew, was the "First Family Paper Doll & Cut-Out Book."

It features Ronald and Nancy at their ranch, on the campaign trail, in the Oval Office and at Camp David.

With starting bids all below $25, the two dozen cut-out books available on eBay feature the president and his wife in red, white and blue swimsuits and, curiously, a page titled, "Nancy's fantasies."



Special section: Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004