Thursday, November 17, 2011

Presidential Relics

They might be dead, but that doesn't keep dead presidents from making money -- for purveyors of their relics, that is. On December 1, Dallas-based Heritage Auctions will be selling five architectural drawing tools once belonging to Thomas Jefferson, which the company says are expected to fetch $45,000 or more.

The pieces have been consigned by descendants of James Monroe. “The Monroe and Jefferson families were closely intertwined in Virginia society and politics, and the Monroes became the custodians of various items originally owned by Thomas Jefferson,” notes Tom Slater, director of historical auctions at Heritage, in a statement. “A number went to Monticello and other Virginia museums, but this choice grouping remained in private hands, which has afforded us this amazing opportunity to bring it to auction.”

Besides the Jefferson items, also for sale at the same time are the last rocking chair John F. Kennedy was known to have sat in; a pair of glass decanters owned by George Washington; a portrait cameo brooch of Zachary Taylor, owned by Taylor and consigned by a direct descendant; James Monroe's own ceramic meat platter in the "Landing of Lafayette" pattern, commemorating Lafayette's triumphal visit to America in 1824, while Monroe was president; and several china pieces belonging to Mary Todd Lincoln, which she sold to pay off debt after her husband's death.

Separately, the Raab Collection, a historic documents dealer in Philadelphia, is selling a reel-to-reel tape made aboard Air Force One the day John Kennedy was assassinated, which it says is more than 30 minutes longer than a version at the National Archives. The Raab Collection bought the tape from the estate of Army Gen. Chester "Ted" Clifton Jr., who served as the senior military aide to Kennedy, and now wants to sell it for $500,000.

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