Photos of John F. Kennedy in his school days pulled from the Kennedy family's own photo album

When we picture JFK, we usually call to mind a handsome, presidential portrait. President Kennedy giving a speech, waving from the steps of an airplane, side by side with Jackie, looking into the distance in a moment of contemplation or laughter. 

But what about Kennedy as a youg man? Five photos of John F. Kennedy in his school days, including two shots never before seen by the public, were up for grabs in an online auction at the end of summer 2015.

Organized by Boston-based RR Auction, the online lot contained candid photos of the future president as he jokes around with his friends during high school, as well as more formal shots of his graduation day from the elite Choate prep school.

Taken during the early to mid-1930s, when Kennedy was between 14 and 18 years old, the exclusive snaps show JFK the joker, the young man whose father did not think he would be a presidential candidate.

One unique aspect of these photographs, however, is their origin – they come from the family’s own photo albums. JFK’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, took the photos from the family’s scrapbook and delivered them to biographer Gene Schoor in 1961 while the writer was working on “Young John Kennedy,” published in June 1963.

The photos were pulled from the Kennedy family scrapbook with traces of the glue still on the backs as well as typed captions of who’s pictured and when they were taken.

The lot even contained the typed memo on official White House letterhead sent from Joseph Kennedy to Schoor when he forwarded on the photos.

“From: The personal diary of Pres. John F. Kennedy scrapbook & photo material given Gene Schoor by [J.F.K. crossed out] Amb. Joe Kennedy at the White House, January 1961,” the memo reads.

Schoor only used three of the photos in his biography, however, meaning that two of the lot have never before been seen in public: a photo of Kennedy with his father and a sister – ‘Kick' on the deck of a ship; and one of Kennedy with many of his friends at the prestigious Choate in Connecticut, including Lem Billings (who would later work on his campaign) and Bud Wynne.

“An absolutely outstanding, one-of-a-kind collection of original material from Kennedy’s formative years,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.

“We’ve seen JFK at Choate – but you don’t really see images like this, the one outside his house with him and all his buddies – that’s what he was known for. Jack as a young person was always thought of as a cut-up.'

Kennedy was, in fact, seen as quite the jokester while he attended Choate, infamously setting off a firework in a school bathroom during his earlier years there.

When the school headmaster referred to him and his accomplices as “muckers” following the incident, JFK wore the term with pride and nicknamed his group of friends “The Muckers Club.”

“He was mischievous at Choate,” Livingston added. “Joe, his father, didn’t see him as the presidential candidate. That was his older brother, Joe Jr. So he’s relaxed in these pictures.”

That doesn’t mean he didn’t show some promise during his teenage years. Despite his brushes with trouble, JFK was still voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by his classmates upon his graduation in 1935.

The remaining photos include an image of him standing proudly in his robe on graduation day. as well as a full-length image of JFK atop the roof of the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach, FL in 1935; and a playful image of Kennedy with his roommate Rip Horton as members of Choate’s drama club during a rehearsal.

The complete lot included a first edition hardback copy of Schoor’s book “Young John Kennedy” where three of the images were first published.

The online bidding for the memorabilia began on August 19 and continued until September 16, 2015. 

The auctioneers placed a conservative estimate of between $1,500 and $2,000 on the lot of photographs, book and memo but said they would not be surprised if that was greatly surpassed.

The lot wound up selling for $3,660.30. 

Previous Kennedy items auctioned by the company have earned bids up to $39,600.

H/T: Daily Mail

* Originally published August 2015.