New in the collection: State’s first skyscraper in the making

Images of building under construction surrounded by scaffoldEven if it weren’t scarce, this would be my favorite Charlotte postcard. The tinted image of “Progressive Charlotte — Getting her new streets and skyscraper” puts us present at the clangorous creation of what would become today’s million-pushing metropolis.

The 12-story Realty Building (later the Independence Building), the state’s first steel-framed high-rise, was imploded in 1981.


New in the collection: Anti-Coy Privette button

Pinback button with the words Just say no to Coy

It’s not usual for county commissioner memorabilia to merit a Miscellany mention, but then Coy Privette wasn’t your usual county commissioner. 

Privette, an outspoken Kannapolis minister and social conservative who once ran for governor, saw his electoral career skid to a halt after pleading guilty to six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution.

Although his fellow Cabarrus County commissioners, all Republicans, demanded he resign, as did the state Republican Party, Privette resisted the “Just say NO” effort and held on for the duration of his term. Then he retired.

Privette died in 2015 at age 82.


New in the collection: Button zings ‘Carolina Comeback’

Pinback button with the words Where are the jobs Pat?Gov. Pat McCrory and his supporters say the ‘Carolina Comeback’ under his watch is most reflected by the halving of the state unemployment rate — from 9.4 percent in January 2013 to 4.7 percent in July 2016 — the creation of 300,000 jobs and the lowering of the corporate tax rate….

“According to N.C. Commerce Department data, however, 40 percent of all job creation has been gained in Charlotte and the Triangle [and] much of the job creation statewide has been in low-wage jobs, such as retail, leisure and hospitality….”

— From “Report questions reach, validity of Gov. Pat McCrory’s ‘Carolina Comeback’ claims” by Richard Craver in the Winston-Salem Journal (Sept. 4, 2016)

This pinback button was distributed by the North Carolina Democratic Party.


New in the collection: railway bond coupons

Coupons for Piedmont and Northern Railway

The term “coupon clipping” used to be synonymous with lifestyles of the wealthy.

” ‘Coupon’ originally refers to actual detachable coupons affixed to bond certificates,” explains Investopedia. “Bonds with coupons, known as coupon bonds or bearer bonds, are not registered, meaning that possession of them constitutes ownership. To collect an interest payment, the investor has to present the physical coupon.”

Today that process has gone almost entirely digital, but these coupons from the electric interurban Piedmont & Northern Railway, a 21-mile line linking Charlotte and Gastonia, survive — having followed though on the P&N’s promise to pay bearers $25 “in gold coin.”


New in the collection: Wilmington molasses and syrup labels

Bully Syrup packaging

“Old timers may remember the distinctive aroma hanging over the Cape Fear River at the former American Molasses Co. plant under what is now the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The operation, one of several the New York-based company ran around the country, shows up in city directories from 1922 to 1978.

“Despite the local facility, most of the product refined in the site at 15 Queen St. came from the Caribbean, likely Barbados, according to an oral history on file at UNC Wilmington’s library recorded in 2004 with Joyce Andrews, daughter of the plant’s superintendent.

— From “Area family keeps sugarcane farming and processing alive” by Paul Stephen in the Wilmington Star-News (Dec. 15, 2013)

New in the collection: Civil engineers convention badge

American Society of Civil Engineers badge for Asheville meeting
Not a lot of historical significance attached to Asheville’s hosting the 1903 national convention of the American Society of Civil Engineers, but the members’ badges — manufactured by Whitehead & Hoag of Newark, N.J. — sure were handsome.

Afterwards the engineers expressed special appreciation to Richard S. Howland “for the courtesy of his invitation to visit Overlook Park on Sunset mountain… as well as for the  hospitable ‘Barbecue’ which added so much to the pleasure and comfort of that occasion.”


New in the collection: Rockingham County poster

Rosalind Willard campaign poster

This 14-by-22 inch poster promoted the 1980 candidacy of Rosalind “Roz” Willard, who would serve two terms before being defeated for reelection.

As detailed in her obituary, politics was only one of the Greensboro native’s many passions: “Per Willard’s request, women well-wishers are welcome to sport bright berets or chapeaux of their choice.”


New in the collection: Silent Vigil reunion pinback

“The largest student demonstration in Duke’s history, which came down to be known as the ‘Silent Vigil,’ developed over the period from April 4 to 12, 1968. They were eight days that changed Duke forever.

“Events began with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on Thursday, April 4, which created ‘a mixture of sadness, fear, guilt and frustration’ on campus, said one contemporary account. As riots erupted across the country, student leaders, principally from campus religious groups, and a growing number of radicals, immediately began to discuss a campus response. One group called for a vigil in front of the chapel; another called for a protest march….”

— From “The Silent Vigil, 1968”  by William E. King, university archivist (1997)