Recently, I was able to acquire a unique presidential item. It was a thin piece of 60 gauge paper with “The President” in raised, engraved, stylized, black lettering. It is not a version I’ve seen before. Because of the simple words and no envelope, I had to think that it was an early place card for a high level State Dinner, possibly early 20th century. A long time presidential collector agreed. It had to be a place card since we’ve never seen a business card handed out by a president before and the place card traditionally only said, “The President.”
It wasn’t until recently that I noticed on Ebay, the same card, supposedly from the hand of President Theodore Roosevelt actually being mailed in an official White House envelope. The style of lettering is the same, although there is a slight variation of the initial loop in the “T” of “The” between the two of them. The size of the card seems to be the same. But the use of one as a form of card to be sent in an envelope makes me now think that what I have is an insert or gift card, one that is placed within a an envelope for a gift in order to identify the giver as that of the president of the United States.
We can tell that the card above is early 20th century because of the design and the date stamped on the above envelope of 1904. Later presidents used a different style of insert card with heavier stock cardboard such as the one below from the early Clinton Administration. The current place card for the Regan-era is heavy card stock with a raised gold presidential coat-of-arms in the center with the guest’s name hand lettered in black calligraphy, still in use today.
The values of the early presidential insert card will be higher than the more recent ones. However, all of them are quite scarce in any form. The insert cards can retail about $125 retail, while the State dinner place card for about $50. Depending on the guest whose name is inscribed, it will be more. A card for The President will be around $150.