The shirt President John F. Kennedy wore on his inauguration day, January 20, 1961, is to be auctioned today.
John F. Kennedy’s shirt is one of the most personal of artifacts of the late president as he wore it during his oath of office as president and famous inaugural speech when he stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
Auctioneers Alexander Historical Auctions describe it as:
“A fine and personal John F. Kennedy relic, a custom-tailored white linen collared shirt, bearing a fabric tag identifying the tailors as Morgan & Ball of London inside the collar, above the monogram “J. F. K.” in red thread. The inventory number “13293” is also sewn just beneath this monogram in red thread.
“The top two buttons are obscured by the edge of the placket, while the third button has been replaced. The shirt shows some soiling and has been mounted in a 44” x 41” black wood frame, along with a color photo of President John F. Kennedy, an original printed invitation to his January 20, 1961 inauguration, and a brass plaque indicating that the shirt was auctioned in Guernsey’s March 18-19, 1998 sale at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York.
“This plaque also indicates that Kennedy wore this shirt on the day of his inauguration but had lost a button and given the shirt to his “valet”. Also present is a photocopy of a notarized statement, 1p. 4to., Cecil County, Maryland, March 5, 1998, signed by a Dorothy M. Butler and her daughter.
“This statement indicates that Butler’s husband, John Jacob Smith, was given the shirt as payment for a debt by U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Harvey B. Lease, Butler’s brother. Lease in turn received the shirt from his friend, incorrectly described in this statement as Kennedy’s manservant and named as “Bugsy”. This individual was almost certainly John “Muggsy” O’Leary, a former Boston policeman and Kennedy’s Secret Service bodyguard and chauffeur. A very evocative relic, appropriately representing the notably image-conscious Kennedy."
Bidding is expected to start at $5,000.
For more on the auction visit www.alexautographs.com.
Here is footage from the President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address: