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Sherman Says: Cost of inaugural souvenirs ranges from $2.50 to a staggering $7,500

SPRINGVILLE — The 57th inauguration of the president of the United States is less than two weeks away, but fear not, the itchy urge to make a buck has not been lost, upon members of the Presidential Inauguration Committee 2013.

The PIC opened the doors to its electronic store last week, offering “the perfect way to remember a historic moment.”

At the bottom end of the price list is a 12-inch ruler, featuring the names of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. Likenesses of all of the previous U.S. presidents are shown on the reverse side. Cost: $2.50. Close behind in cost is a set of two No. 2 pencils. Cost: $3.

If your wallet has not been too severely impacted by the tax increase that kicked in at the first of the year, you have several choices, listed at just a few cents more. There are 16 separate, two-button sets available. Cost: $5 each. Or you can purchase the set of 14 buttons commemorating the inauguration. Cost: $30.

The catalog also includes a shot glass for $10, two champagne flutes for $30 and a set of three lapel pins, including one described as a “limited edition exclusive to the set,” for $40.

There is also a sterling silver charm for $50 and a golf divot tool for $15.

Those wishing to spend more in true Washington fashion may take advantage of a trip to the high end of the catalog. There were not many souvenirs available, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” inauguration speech, in 1933, but, this year, you can invest in a silver medallion that bears the profiles of Obama and Biden on the front and an illustration of the Capitol Building on the back. Cost: $1,250.

But wait, there’s more. The official, three-medallion set includes 2013 souvenirs cast in bronze, silver and gold. A decorative display box is included. Cost: $7,500.

Although our Constitution calls for the chief executive to be sworn into office on the Jan. 20 following the national election held every four years, the inauguration will take place this year on Jan. 21. History holds a very narrow precedent against its being held on a Sunday, so a private ceremony will be held at the White House on that day. This decision was reached several months ago, by a bipartisan committee.

As the author of an opinion column, it is not difficult for me to spot easy targets, in the catalog of 2013 commemorative items. I will probably buy the set of 14 buttons in advance and add it to a personal collection that dates back to 1908. How could I turn it down? It would be like Terry Pegula’s not buying a Gil Perreault sweater.

The committee decided to keep it classy and not authorize trucker-style baseball caps with mesh linings. There are no neckties, not even the type that D.C. vendors hawk on street corners, at the bargain price of three for $10. My favorite is the one showing the city’s metro system so, if you get lost, you can find the way mapped out, right under your chin.

There are no baseballs with facsimiles of the president’s signature and no golf balls bearing the inaugural seal. The offerings at the official store are in keeping with the significance of an event that is truly American.

The inauguration is partly a piece of the Constitution, but also a symbol that the government continues to function in an orderly fashion, even when there is a transition in power.

The Jan. 21 crowd is expected to be smaller than that which descended on Washington, four years ago, for Obama’s first inaugural event. Yet, hundreds of thousands of men and women will stand on the west side of the Capitol at noon that day, soaking up this piece of history. I’ll let you know how it goes.

David Sherman is the managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York. The author can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.
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