Sir Walter Raleigh–Illustrator?

Walter Raleigh, a man of many talents and accomplishments, distinguished himself as a soldier, historian, poet, businessman, and politician.  As an explorer, he helped set the stage for English colonization of the New World.

He was not, however, renowned for his facility with a paint brush.

Days before the 400th anniversary of his death this October 29, historians discovered a wall painting under layers of peeling paint in the Tower of London’s Bloody Tower, where Raleigh was once confined.  This loosely painted sketch features a man wearing a laurel wreath.  A self-portrait? Historic Royal Palaces staff believe the painting dates to the early seventeenth century, the period in which Raleigh was incarcerated in the Bloody Tower.  See

In addition to sharing the painting with the public, the Tower has also opened a special “Lost Garden” to commemorate the anniversary of Raleigh’s death.  This is one of several worldwide remembrances, including one at the North Carolina State Capitol on Saturday, October 27.

To learn more about the multifaceted Raleigh, visit the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s newest exhibition, Sir Walter Uncloaked:  The Man, the Myths, the Legacy, on view through January 31, 2019.

Artifacts of the Month: Vintage regional soda bottles

Before the era of “Big Soda,” regional soft drinks occupied a greater share of retail shelves than they do today. Our November Artifacts of the Month offer a window into that time.

Sun-Rise and Smith's bottles

bottle backs

We found these two rather ordinary looking vintage soda bottles last year at an antique store in Burlington, N.C.  These brands are no longer made but serve as a reminder of the many different carbonated beverages once sold alongside soft drink giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola. We’ll add these bottles to Gallery holdings related to North Carolina and the history of carbonated beverages.

Sun-Rise Beverages began selling soda in 1910 in North Tazewell, Virginia. The Sun-Rise line offered root beer and fruit-flavored drinks such as Black Cherry and Lemon Sour. The company was sold a number of times in the twentieth century before Coca-Cola took over bottling and distribution in the 1950s. This bottle from the 1960s or 70s comes from the Burlington, N.C. Coca-Cola bottling plant. 

Our research into the story of the Smith Beverage Company has been less fruitful. The company was located in Burlington, but little information exists about it. An advertisement in the Burlington Daily-Times News of January 24, 1950 indicates that the Smith Beverage Company also distributed Cheerwine, a soft drink introduced in Salisbury by Lewis D. Peeler in 1917. 


Before Cheerwine, Peeler first held a bottling franchise for a short-lived brand of soda called Mint Cola, which was headquartered in Tennessee. 

Mint Cola bottle

Peeler developed the less sweet cherry-flavored Cheerwine in response to sugar shortages during World War I.   

Do you know anything more about Smith Beverage Company in Burlington? Please tell us in the comments!

Jesse Can’t Shag…The Sticker

According to Lew Powell of Charlotte, the “Jesse Can’t Shag” record came with this sticker. The sticker, one of 2698 items in the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, is currently on exhibit in the Gallery as part of the “Soapboxes and Tree Stumps: Political Campaigning in North Carolina” exhibition. The exhibition features twelve Helms-related items, including this comical “HelmsBusters” button. A number of politicians, including Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan, were also lampooned in this popular culture reference to the 1984 comedy film Ghost Busters.

Pepsi: It Does A Stomach (And Baby) Good

If one of your New Year’s resolutions includes eliminating soda from your diet, you may want to reconsider. Drinking Pepsi may do for you what it did for eight-month-old Emma Woodley. As a result of daily consumption of this beverage, Miss Woodley’s parents claimed that Emma acquired a “disposition as sunny as the clime of Italy” and was “growing stronger and prettier” each day. A circa-1905 letter from the bottling works encourages Pepsi drinking as “beneficial to young and old.” The beverage, invented by New Bern druggist Caleb Bradham in the 1890s, was originally sold as a remedy for upset stomachs under the name “Brad’s Drink.” In 1897, the beverage was renamed Pepsi-Cola to underscore one of its ingredients, pepsin, an enzyme that aids digestion.

Photo of Emma Woodley, ca. 1905, from 'Pepsi: 100 Years' by Bob Stoddard (Los Angeles: General Publishing Group, 1997).
Photo of Emma Woodley, ca. 1905, from Pepsi: 100 Years by Bob Stoddard (Los Angeles: General Publishing Group, 1997).

A new online North Carolina Collection Gallery exhibit features a copy of this letter as well as other items that were featured in the exhibition “Sour Stomachs and Galloping Headaches.” The 2005 exhibition provided a broad overview of medicine in our state. The online exhibit is a condensed version and highlights some of the common ailments and deadly epidemics that afflicted our North Carolina ancestors.

Trade Token Returns To North Carolina After Decades In England

The North Carolina Collection Gallery recently received this Champion Compress and Warehouse Company aluminum trade token from a donor in South Yorkshire, England. The Wilmington-based company, which was opened in 1879 by Alexander Sprunt and Sons, established numerous overseas warehouses, including one in Liverpool.

In the 1880s merchants all over the United States began issuing trade tokens as a form of advertising. Tokens usually had a monetary denomination or a “good for” value associated with them. In this case, the token appears to be worth “one bale” of cotton. This postcard from the Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina postcards shows an English steamer picking up cotton from the wharf in Wilmington:

Please contact the North Carolina Collection if you can provide additional information about this token.

Cartooning At UNC Topic Of Lecture, Exhibition

Political cartoonist John Branch will speak about his career in a lecture titled “A Tar Heel Cartoonist in Texas: Drawing the Line in the Lone Star State” on April 17 at 5:45 p.m. in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Branch has been the editorial cartoonist of the San Antonio Express-News since 1981. He graduated in 1976 from UNC, where he launched his cartooning career at the The Daily Tar Heel. Branch’s work has been reprinted in The New York Times, USA Today, and Newsweek, and he has published two collections of his work: Out on a Limb (1976) and Would You Buy a Used Cartoon from this Man? (1979).

A reception and viewing of the exhibition “Lines of Humor, Shades of Controversy: A Century of Student Cartooning at UNC” will begin at 5 p.m. in the North Carolina Collection Gallery of Wilson Library. The event is free and open to the public.

“Lines of Humor, Shades of Controversy” presents 177 cartoons from undergraduate publications at UNC between 1907 and 2006. The earliest cartoons appeared in yearbooks around the turn of the twentieth century and student humor magazines by the 1920s. The Daily Tar Heel first introduced student-drawn cartoons on its editorial page in the late 1950s. Many of the topics—freshmen, campus food, athletics—are quite consistent over time; however, many of the older cartoons provide a window on attitudes that would today be considered racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive.

Exhibit highlights include two original cartoons by Jeff MacNelly, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist and creator of the comic strip Shoe. MacNelly attended UNC from 1965 to 1969. One cartoon depicts the student strikes and boycotts of the University’s dining services in 1969. The other is a watercolor painting featuring Shoe characters in front of Howell Hall to commemorate UNC’s bicentennial in 1993.

The Siamese Connection

In addition to cities such as New York, Paris, and London, the renowned nineteenth-century conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, also toured the American South. The “United Twin Brothers” visited Chapel Hill and nearby Hillsborough in October 1834.

There have been numerous stories, books, plays, and even a musical written about the two and their extraordinary lives. The most recent addition is a documentary film by Josh Gibson, The Siamese Connection, which premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival on Thursday, April 3. The North Carolina Collection provided some of the images and artifacts used in the film. To learn more about the Bunkers, visit the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s exhibit and the University Library’s digital project.


Most Recent Additions to the North Carolina Collection Gallery

Raymond Jefferies, UNC class of 1947, recently made this donation of student organization charms to the North Carolina Collection Gallery. The charms, which were intended for placement on a key chain, were awarded to Mr. Jefferies while he attended UNC and afterwards as an employee in the Office of the Dean of Students. The Gallery did not have examples of any of these charms, and they are important additions to our collection of University-related items.
Student organization charms, 1947-49, clockwise from top: Order of the Grail; Order of the Old Well; Student Legislature; Interdormitory Council; Student Council; UNC Dance Committee; and at center, Order of the Golden Fleece.

1918 Mystery Button from Asheboro

In December 2007, Lew Powell of Charlotte donated 2,698 North Carolina-related pin-back buttons, badges, ribbons, cloth swatches, promotional cards, and stickers to the North Carolina Collection. These items cover a variety of topics, including politics, sports, clubs and organizations, and controversial causes. While the origin of most of the buttons in this collection is clear, a couple of the buttons are untraced to any cause or organization.

This 1918 button from Asheboro remains a puzzle. Mr. Powell purchased the button along with another from Randolph County, and suggests that one possibility is that the button advertised the Randolph County Sunday School Association. On the other hand, the flag motif suggests it might have something to do with World War I.
Any ideas?