This blog was written and photographed by Alyssa Chariva, the Poage Library Graduate student in Museum Studies.
Bob Platt passed away February 23. We at the Poage Library express our deepest condolences to his wife Ruth and his family. This blog is dedicated to him with gratitude for his love of political memorabilia and the history it tells.
As an archive, the Baylor Collections of Political Materials (BCPM) at the W. R. Poage Legislative Library is a wonderful repository of bills, correspondence, speeches and other objects of political significance from local, state, and congressional politicians. But the Collection also holds some rather unique political materials, like Dr. Robert “Bob” Platt’s collection of campaign memorabilia. Bob Platt’s collection consists of some remarkable and rare items from Russian nesting dolls to FDR campaign buttons to a beetle-shaped pin supporting William McKinley for president. Platt’s collection is truly amazing and tells a really unique story about an avid collector.
Platt’s story and collection starts in 1936 when he was a young boy. His grandfather gave him an “Alf Landon for President” button, who ran against Franklin Delano Roosevelt that year. The button sparked the collector’s spirit in Platt and soon he began collecting campaign buttons and other political memorabilia. His collection would eventually grow to include items like canes, plates, ribbons, and mugs from every general election since 1928, as well as campaign buttons from every major party presidential candidate since 1896; enough memorabilia to fill his 3 bedroom guest house. In 1990, Platt opened his book and campaign button store Books, Etc. at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Platt started donating some of his materials to the Library in 2004, and additional materials in 2010 after he closed his bookstore. Poage Library purchased his prized Presidential Memorabilia Collection with a generous gift from the John and JD Dowdy Family Foundation.
Although Platt’s collection contains a plethora of materials from different candidates and presidents, Platt always had a special focus on collecting FDR related materials. Platt said he chose to focus on Roosevelt for a variety of reasons:
“He [Roosevelt] was president when I started to school in the first grade and he was president my senior year in high school. He was a very charismatic person. I used to listen to him when he gave his fireside chats over the radio.”
Platt’s fondness of FDR led to some really interesting pieces, like these FDR clocks. The first clock shows FDR behind a ship’s wheel, which in Platt’s own words, “suggests a firm and experienced hand at the helm guiding the ship of state.” The second clock has a bust of FDR in the center with Miss Frances Perkins, the secretary of Labor, on the lower right and General Hugh Samuel Johnson, head of the National Recovery Administration, on the lower left.
In addition to collecting FDR materials, Platt also collected the political materials of his opponents. Platt has campaign buttons and stamps from every campaign that ran against FDR, including Alf Landon in 1936, Wendell Willkie in 1940, and John Dewey in 1944.
For more information about this truly unique collection, please stop by our Reading Room or peruse these treasured resources from the comfort of your own home at http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/po-bobplatt .
Rest in Peace, Mr. Platt.