Mover & Shaker: Steve Mihaly

Presidential Collector

         To say that Steve Mihaly of Gibsonia is a presidential collector is a bit of an understatement.  He actually possesses a plethora of presidential pieces.  How many?  According to Steve, his latest estimates are between 20,000-25,000 items.  He began his unique collection at a young age.

         “I started collecting presidential memorabilia when I was 10 years old. Growing up in New Jersey, my parents liked going to garage sales, antique shop, and flea markets, all of which were activities that a 10-year-old boy was not enthusiastic about doing. At one of these outings, my dad bought a group of eight political buttons and gave them to me. Since I did like American history, I thought they were kind of cool, and thus I began telling folks I collected these things. More importantly, it gave me something to do and look for as I was being dragged around to these venues,” Steve said.

          Steve still enjoys adding new pieces to his relics. “My favorite item is always my latest acquisition. Beyond that, I particularly enjoy anything that is odd or unusual. Lately, I’ve been giving a presentation at local libraries, museums and historical societies entitled Marketing the Presidency, where I take the audience on a visual tour as to how candidates have marketed themselves to the voting public through the artifacts they produce and hand out. For example, attendees see a James Monroe snuff box urging voters to support his policies, a William McKinley soap baby doll, a Teddy Roosevelt cast iron doorstop, Eisenhower sugar cubes and a Richard Nixon shower head where the water comes streaming out of his mouth. I also like anything that is politically incorrect. One of my favorites, an item that would cause a huge uproar today if produced and distributed, is a metal cigarette ashtray from Allegheny College in advertising Youth for Eisenhower,” Steve said.

          He also mentioned that, “Sometimes I do displays of presidential artifacts in the area; I really like and look for any presidential piece that has a local Western Pennsylvania connection. For example, a banner that says ‘Welcome Kennedy to Cranberry, Pa.’ or ‘McCandless Supports Roosevelt’ would be great! It’s a bit difficult finding new, unique items to add to the collection, but when I do, it can come from a myriad of sources . . . friends, word of mouth connections, flea markets, antique shops, even things like an article in Northern Connection.” 

Steve will be conducting his Marketing the Presidency presentations this month:
Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation in Beaver.  For details, call (724)987-8060 or visit www.beaverheritage.org.

Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Cooper Siegel Community Library in Fox Chapel.  To register, call (412)                828-9520 or visit https://www.coopersiegelcommunitylibrary.org/

Feb. 21 at 1:00 p.m. at the Mars Area Library in Mars.  To register, phone (724) 625-9048 or visit        https://www.marsarealibrary.org/

         The libraries require pre-registration for the presentations, so call the listed phone numbers to reserve your spot.

By Paula Green