TRL predicts the US Presidential Election --- (1912) Magic Moving Picture Card postcard

November 5, 2012 | Bill V.

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The Toronto Reference Library owns a rare mechanical moving postcard that is also an exciting piece of political ephemera and a technological marvel. Exactly 100 years ago the 1912 US presidential election was a four-way race.  The final result saw Woodrow Wilson defeat Teddy Roosevelt and incumbant William Taft.  It also saw Eugene V. Debs, the socialist candidate, win 6 % of the popular vote (although he didn't get his face on the postcard).


In 1912 the Franklin Postcard Company of Chicago produced a  "Magic Moving Picture" postcard showing the three mainstream political candidates.  By slowing pulling or pushing the moving, layered plastic slide you could change the three-dimensional image in the middle to either Taft, Wilson or Roosevelt.  This was a done using technology patented by A. S. Spiegel in 1906.   The card allowed the viewer to "Pick the Winner".

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a copy of this postcard in their collection as part of the Jefferson R.Burdick Collection (he was one of the earliest and greatest baseball card collectors!). Our card is unmailed and you can see the back below.

Zzz 1912 postcard wilson tt


Zzz 1912 postcard fdr


Zzz 1912 postcard taft 2nd 0001


Zzz 1912 postcard b

There is even a cool youtube video of the card in action (not our card ... an auction house promo):



If you're interested in reading more about the lives of the candidates from the 1912 election you may enjoy the following titles:


Zzz The Bending Cross A Biography of Eugene Victor Debs Zzz Woodrow Wilson A Biography


           Zzz Colonel Roosevelt           Zzz 1912 Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs The Election that Changed the Country


If you're interested in reading about the 2012 Obama vs Romney election you may enjoy the blog post by Book Buzz, Toronto Public Library's online bookclub, The US Election: Read All About It.