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Category Archives: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Bedside Curio Box

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s handsome personally-owned and -used wooden box, kept on his bedside table and dresser at the White House. Beautiful wood inlaid box measures 9.5 x 7 x 3.5, with the President’s initials, “FDR,” handsomely inlaid in ebony on the cover. The box’s lock has been disabled and has no key, but easily opens and closes. Accompanied by a detailed 1990 letter of provenance on White House letterhead from the wife of White House valet and steward Irineo Esperancilla. Letter reads, in part: “The lovely wood inlay box…was kept in the White House by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his bedside table…In this box President Roosevelt kept his most personal correspondence. It was so personal that when the President passed away…my husband promptly picked up the locked box…and brought it home…The contents of FDR’s most personal correspondence was burned by my husband in our own kitchen sink—He did this act out of loyalty and respect for the President.” Also included is a second letter of provenance from Esperancilla’s wife on a White House card, a copy of a letter to Esperancilla from Naval Aide to the President Edward Leach, written on the occasion of Esperancilla’s retirement, thanking him for his loyal service to four presidents, as well as a photocopy of Esperancilla’s obituary. In very fine condition, with expected light wear, that does not detract from its aesthetic appeal. President Roosevelt once told his valets they were his ‘lifeline and keeper of his secrets,’ which was certainly the case with the disposition of the contents of this box. One could only wonder what secrets this box might have held at the time of Roosevelt’s death, with the truth known by only two men, the president and his loyal valet. A particularly stunning and impressive FDR relic of the most personal order, deserving of a place in a distinguished collection. The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection.

Absentee Bidding Starts Thursday February 12, 2015

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Walnut Cane

President Roosevelt’s personally-owned and -used walnut cane with a white bone handle and tip, measuring 39.5″ long, featuring two black rings below the grip and a silver ring at the bottom of the handle. Includes a detailed letter of provenance on White House letterhead from Mildred Prettyman, a White House worker and the widow of Arthur S. Prettyman. Her husband had served as Roosevelt’s valet from 1939 until the president’s death in 1945, and continued working for Harry S. Truman until he left office in 1953. In part: “It gives me pleasure to present to you one of the canes owned and used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was given to my husband, Arthur S. Prettyman shortly after the handle was cracked, by the President…This particular cane was used a great deal by the President until he cracked the ivory top. It has a curved handle for the hand grip and two black rings near the top. At the bottom of the handle is a silver ring. The bottom of the cane has an ivory tip nearly 3 1/2 inches long…This most personal possession of the President must be preserved for future generations.” Accompanied by multiple photos of President Roosevelt holding the cane at various events, including a visit with Winston Churchill, as well as a photo of Mildred Prettyman with the cane at the time she transferred it to the distinguished Amyx collection.

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Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

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President Roosevelt’s personally-owned hardcover edition of the Holy Bible

President Roosevelt’s personally-owned hardcover edition of the Holy Bible. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company. Hardcover, 6.75 x 9.75, gilt-stamped on the lower right of the front cover, “Franklin D. Roosevelt, July 25, 1942.” The book bears FDR’s personal bookplate affixed to the first free end page, featuring his family coat of arms with their surname below, “Roosevelt.” Includes a detailed letter of provenance on White House letterhead from Lillian Rogers Parks, who was a best selling author as well as housekeeper and seamstress at the White House for over 30 years, from President Hoover through President Eisenhower. In part: “The Bible was one of those owned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is engraved in gold color on the front with his [full] name and the [World War II] date, July 25, 1942…This Bible was in the family living quarters of the White House and not in the White House Library. I have seen it on more than one occasion. When the President passed away it was so sad…Shortly thereafter the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, called a few White House staff members into her bedroom…Among other things I was given this Bible. It has meant a lot to me.” Also accompanied by photos of Lillian Rogers Parks with the Bible.

President Roosevelt was an Episcopalian and quietly spiritual leader, and while religion was a formative force in his life and politics—he occasionally invoked biblical passages in his speeches, and Christian social ethics certainly informed elements of the the New Deal—he was a strong advocate of freedom of worship, declining to use his international prominence as an evangelical platform. Of her husband’s faith, Eleanor Roosevelt would reflect that ‘it was a very simple religion’ and she ‘always felt Franklin’s religion had something to do with his confidence in himself.’ In his renowned Four Freedoms speech, given on January 6, 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt explicated the idea of free religion as one of America’s chief ideological tenets, saying, ‘The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.’ On the presentation date of this Holy Bible, July 25, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9205 to establish the President’s War Relief Control Board, to oversee all charities ‘controlling in the public interest charities for foreign and domestic relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and welfare arising from war-created needs.’ This helped individual charities to become more efficient and cooperate in order to have the most effective impact on the nation. This presents a nice connection to President Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address, given nearly a decade before on March 4, 1933, in which he invoked the language of scripture to invigorate the depressed American spirit, saying, ‘The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit…These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.’ A truly epochal offering worthy of the finest collection or institution.

Bidding for the Auction opens Sep 11, 2014 & ends Sep 16, 2014

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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

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Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Wool Cape

President Roosevelt’s remarkable personally-owned and -worn blue-black cape custom made of the highest quality manufacture and material by Lewis & Thos. Saltz of Washington, constructed of a fine heavyweight wool with a satin lining and velvet-trimmed collar. The manufacturer’s tag is sewn inside the neck area below a metal chain, and the cape features an ornate braided fastener at the neck. Includes a detailed letter of provenance on White House letterhead from Mildred Prettyman, a White House worker and the widow of Arthur S. Prettyman. Her husband had served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s valet from 1939 until the president’s death in 1945, and continued working for Harry S. Truman until he left office in 1953. Mrs. Prettyman describes the close relationship between her husband and FDR, in part: “President Roosevelt said of his Valets, ‘You are my lifeline, the keeper of my keys.’ The President did not mean real keys, but the keys to FDR’s secrets.” Discussing this specific piece, she writes: “It gives me pleasure to present to you one of the beautiful blue/black capes owned and used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The navy blue/black cape came into the possession of my husband, Arthur S. Prettyman, shortley [sic] after the death of the President on April 12, 1945…This custom cape of superior quality was owned and used by President Roosevelt…At the back of the inside collar there is a custom chain for hanging purposes. This is because of the heavy weight of the wool. It is trimmed with a beautiful velvet collar. The cape [manufactured of the highest quality method and material] is held together in front by elegant epaulette-style braid with elegant crisscrosses.” Also accompanied by a number of photos showing President Franklin D. Roosevelt dressed in his characteristic attire, available for reference online at rrauction.com.

Lewis & Thos. Saltz was one of Washington’s premier clothiers, known for outfitting the nation’s elite—presidents, senators, and Supreme Court justices were all known to frequent the prominent haberdashery, and is thus an appropriate choice of maker for this FDR cape. The garment is undoubtedly the most iconic item in FDR’s wardrobe—nearly all popular images of him from throughout his presidency show him in such a cape. More than a fashion statement, it was a practical piece of clothing—the design was less restrictive than a regular dress overcoat, allowing the president the extra upper arm mobility that he relied on to support himself due to the paralysis of his legs.

In the pictures of Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Yalta conference, he can be seen wearing his cape as he met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin to determine the course of Europe’s postwar future, and his flowing cloak is immortalized in the statue at the FDR Memorial in Washington—in both of these depictions, FDR’s cape bears the distinctively designed woven clasp that fastens it in front. He is also shown in a similar cape in Douglas Granville Chandor’s 1945 portrait displayed in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and in Elizabeth Shoumatoff’s portraits of him, including the famous ‘Unfinished Portrait,’ which he was sitting for at the time of his stroke and subsequent death. With the exception of Lincoln’s top hat, FDR’s cape is perhaps the most recognizable article of any piece of presidential clothing.

A defining element of his image, the cape projected an aura of power and strength to the public at large—a subliminal invocation of the emergent superhero and nod to the kings of old—allowing Roosevelt, afflicted with polio-induced paralysis from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, to command the respect of the nation and world as it faced its greatest challenges of the century. This magnificent example of one of his capes, obtained directly from the wife of his longtime valet, is the quintessential FDR collectible—a piece of the greatest historical importance that defined the man and the era.

Bidding for the Auction opens Sep 11, 2014 & ends Sep 17, 2014

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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

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RR Auctions Franklin D. Roosevelt Signed Harris and Ewing Photo

RR Auctions Franklin D. RooseveltCrystal-clear vintage matte-finish 11.5 x 11 Harris and Ewing photo of a determined looking Roosevelt working at his desk, signed in the lower border in fountain pen. Framed to an overall size of 12.5 x 12.25. In fine condition. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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RR Auctions Franklin D. Roosevelt Signed Typed Telegram

RR Auctions Franklin D. RooseveltTyped telegram, signed as president, “FDR,” one page, on unusual 7.75 x 5 White House yellow telegram paper, April 16, 1940. Telegram to Navy Captain Edward W. Hanson, the Governor of American Samoa. In full: “Hearty congratulations on the happy anniversary of the fortieth anniversary of hoisting the American Flag of Tutuila. I hope through all the years ahead that the national emblem will be a token in this far-flung possession of that spirit of democracy and free institutions which it has symbolized ever since our beginnings as a nation.” In fine condition. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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RR Auction Franklin D. Roosevelt Bank Check

RR Auction Franklin D. RooseveltBank check, 6.5 x 2.75, filled out in another hand and signed by Roosevelt as president, “Franklin D. Roosevelt,” payable to Robert McGaughey for $80, June 1, 1944. In fine condition, with a faint central vertical fold and expected cancellation holes. McGaughey was the historical aide for the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt national historical sites. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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