AIKEN - To collectors in the know, his stuff is a mishmash of the valuable and the common.
Elizabeth McFarland, the office manager for U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond's office in Aiken, looks over Mr. Thurmond's possessions, which she is getting ready for packing as his term draws to an end. Many have requested his items.
To U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond's Aiken office manager, however, the items all have equal sentimental value.
As Elizabeth McFarland began packing up Mr. Thurmond's items Monday, she said the public has been eager to snap up anything with his signature or face on it.
"I've seen an increase in requests in the past five years - and especially the past year and a half," she said.
The senator's Washington office has reported even more interest.
Mrs. McFarland said many requests come from outside the South, but she said collectors should look closely. Requests for signed memorabilia that have been sent to Washington or Mr. Thurmond's home throughout the years might have the signature of his wife or secretary.
"His handwriting is still today like it was in 1927," Mrs. McFarland said as she leafed through an old classroom ledger Mr. Thurmond used in his first year as a teacher in McCormick County. He would later teach in Edgefield County, then become its superintendent of schools, launching his political career.
As she got ready for packing, Ms. McFarland found a picture of the senator in uniform while in the Army.
She handled the ledger gingerly, just as she did with his old photographs and wartime letters from his mother.
Experts warn against confusing the very few pricey items attached to Mr. Thurmond's life with the tens of thousands that should be kept only for nostalgia.
Rare and valuable Thurmond items were rare and valuable years ago, said Brian Krapf, the Savannah lawyer who heads the Dixie chapter of American Political Items Collectors.
Because of the senator's presidential run under the short-lived States' Rights Party, "1948 items are the crown jewels of Thurmond memorabilia," Mr. Krapf said.
A California collector, Gary Kranz, said he has no plans to sell the campaign button from that race that he bought for $9,000 five years ago. But he estimates it will double in value because it's one of about six of its type remaining.
ABOUT THE SERIES
This week, The Augusta Chronicle revisits Sen. Strom Thurmond's life and its milestones. Coverage will conclude Friday with reports from Thursday's 100th-birthday festivities.
SUNDAY: Childhood shapes future senator
MONDAY: Early years and the call to serve
TUESDAY: From state to national prominence
WEDNESDAY: Mr. Thurmond goes to Washington
THURSDAY: Senator leaves a legacy
FRIDAY: Coverage from Edgefield and Washington
Associated Press reports were used in this article.
Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 279-6895 or email@example.com.