Tea for JFK: Kennedy aide’s trove of memorabilia headlines at John McInnis Feb. 25

1960 Kennedy for President campaign poster from the estate of Helen Mary Keyes, estimated at $200-$400 at John McInnis Auctioneers.

AMESBURY, Mass. – John McInnis Auctioneers distinguished itself as a house specializing in John F. Kennedy material in February 2013, when it dispersed the collection of longtime Kennedy aide and friend Dave Powers (1912-1998). Despite a snowstorm and heavy demand that played havoc with Internet connections, McInnis sold the 2,000-piece Powers collection in 723 lots, only five of which were passed. It was memorably topped by an Air Force One bomber jacket owned by JFK and later given to Powers, which hammered for $570,000.

A measure of that same Kennedy magic may revisit the house on Sunday, February 25, when it offers more than 100 lots from the estate of Helen Mary Keyes, a Kennedy aide and family friend who also helped with the creation of the John F. Kennedy Library. The catalog for the sale, in which the Kennedy-related material appears as lots 301-417, is available now for bidding through LiveAuctioneers.

Keyes had long and storied ties to the Kennedy family. Her father was the dentist to Joe and Rose Kennedy’s children, and the families’ children became friends. Keyes went on to play a trusted role in John F. Kennedy’s 1952 campaign for a Massachusetts senate seat, hosting ladies’ teas for the rising star of the Democratic Party. Her involvement with Kennedy’s political career extended to his 1960 presidential campaign. This is evidenced by, among many other mementos on offer in the sale, a 1960 Kennedy for President poster in a famed red and blue band design, estimated at $200-$400.

Another piece from Keyes’ Kennedy trove, striking in its rarity, is a printed silk campaign scarf from John F. Kennedy’s successful bid to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate. The scarf, featuring the same portrait of a strikingly young-looking Kennedy repeated once at each corner and once in the center over an image of the U.S. Capitol, is estimated at $500-$1,000. Keyes also earned an invitation to the 1953 Newport, Rhode Island wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier. It, along with its original envelope and several period clippings covering the nuptials, is presented with an estimate of $300-$600.

The ladies’ teas that Keyes hosted in 1952 were among the many events that helped Kennedy win the allegiance of women voters in Massachusetts, but they certainly reflect a bygone era. A lot of memorabilia relating to the pro-Kennedy teas and receptions includes a photo of Rose Kennedy addressing tea volunteers with her son seated to her right, as well as newspaper clippings, schedules, speaking points, details for organizers, and two pairs of long, white, formal kid gloves that tea attendees would have been expected to wear to such an event. The whole is estimated at $300-$600.

Numerous lots in the auction are letters from John and Robert Kennedy to Keyes, either typewritten or handwritten, but always hand-signed by them, often with humorous inscribed asides. Lot 312 demonstrates the importance of the ladies’ teas to JFK’s Senate campaign. In the handwritten 1952 letter, the future president thanks Keyes for her help in the U.S. Senate campaign with the inscription, “This expresses inadequately my thanks for all that you did. As I heard Ohara said at the Clover Club dinner Mr. Lodge was drowned in five hundred gallons of tea you had poured.” That letter now carries an estimate of $2,000-$4,000.

Another JFK letter worthy of mention dates to May 1952, written to Keyes on Congress of the United States letterhead. It is further distinguished by its original envelope, which, unusually, was hand-addressed by Kennedy. It comes with a campaign photograph and its matching negative that pictures a grinning Kennedy with Keyes and two others. The lot has an estimate of $2,000-$4,000.

Another in the army of women who helped the Kennedy clan achieve their political ambitions was Polly Fitzgerald, a Kennedy cousin by marriage. The very Royal Worcester porcelain tea and dinner service she used to court possible Kennedy voters in the 1950s and 1960s appears in the auction lineup with an estimate of $2,000-$4,000.

Marilyn Monroe-signed 1962 JFK birthday celebration program sells for $29K

Original program for President Kennedy’s 1962 birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden, signed by Marilyn Monroe and other attendees, which sold for $29,232
Original program for President Kennedy’s 1962 birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden, signed by Marilyn Monroe and other attendees, which sold for $29,232

BOSTON – An original program for President John F. Kennedy’s famous birthday celebration held at Madison Square Garden sold for $29,232 on June 16, according to RR Auction.

The two-page program for the May 19, 1962 event, titled Happy Birthday, Mr. President, was signed on the cover by Marilyn Monroe along with a dozen other autographs from celebrities in attendance.

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