Published: October 29, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy John McInnis Auctions
AMESBURY, MASS. – On October 13, John McInnis sold a large collection of items from Hammersmith Farms, Newport, R.I., the family home of Hugh Auchincloss (1897-1976), stepfather of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy.
His third marriage in 1942 was to Jackie’s mother, Janet Lee Bouvier. Jackie spent her childhood years in this home and the reception for her 1953 marriage to John F. Kennedy was conducted in this house. She was close to her stepbrother “Yusha” Auchincloss, born in 1932 during Hugh Auchincloss’s first marriage, and many of the family items in this sale at one time had belonged to him. When he died, these items were bequeathed to his assistant, Colleen Townsend Pilat. She partnered with her friend, Hollywood actor James Wood, to bring this collection to auction. In addition, part of the material comes from Rosalie Helm, Senator Ted Kennedy’s personal assistant, dating back to when Ted Kennedy was at the beginning of his political career. Some comes from the estate of Dave Powers, JFK’s close friend and personal assistant. Dan Meader, McInnis gallery director, said, “All these people worked with and were close to Jackie, JFK, RFK and Ted. It really is an incredible timeline.” It was McInnis’s fourth sale of Kennedy memorabilia.
The collection included numerous personal belongings of Jackie’s: poems she had written and illustrated, personal photographs that have never been published, copies of her personal books that she had signed or inscribed, diaries of family members, furniture from Hammersmith Farm that Jackie had grown up with, invitations to her wedding to JFK, invitations to his inauguration and the parties that celebrated the inauguration, documents relating to JFK’s funeral and far more. Perhaps the most poignant item, and it did not sell, was an oil painting of Rosemary Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s older sister. She was intellectually disabled, perhaps due to a mishap during birth, and at the age of 23, Joe Kennedy, her father, without consulting his wife, reportedly decided that Rosemary should have a frontal lobotomy, during which another mishap occurred, leaving her permanently disabled and she spent the rest of her life in an institution.
Meader had cataloged and presented the material in chronological order, to best reflect the story. Therefore, the first items sold related to Hugh Auchincloss. Of this material, the most popular item was a sampler, dated 1802, with a 70-page genealogy of the family, which sold far over the estimate, finishing at $10,800. There were numerous family photographs sold in lots, books, porcelains from the family home, as well as the Bouvier-Auchincloss family lace christening dress and bonnet, which sold for $210.
The sale then moved on to items directly related to Jackie Kennedy. The first of these items was a lot with two stereo views and a photograph of a very young Jackie with her father, John “Blackjack” Bouvier. He was so nicknamed because of his swarthy complexion, and the website of the New England Historical Society raises the question of whether he, and therefore Jackie, may have had some African American blood. It goes into some detail on this subject and includes the following quote: “When First Lady Jackie Kennedy visited England in 1961, society photographer Cecil Beaton met her at a dinner party. In his journal he commented she had a ‘Negroid’ appearance.” Regardless of that possible connection, the three photographs sold for $300.
Her inscribed and annotated copy of The Book of Dogs, done when she 6 years old, sold for $600. Her grade school book, Books I Have Read, included the titles and her comments, in her hand, of 21 books she read in the eighth grade, and it sold for $3,900. The next two lots, although they sold over estimate, seemed exceptionally interesting. They were poems Jackie had written and illustrated on heavy, 11-by-14-inch paper. The layout and drawings of each was reminiscent of the E.H. Shepard illustrations for “Winnie The Pooh” and were done as gifts for others. One was signed and dated “Three Little Kittens,” signed “Me 1937” (when she was 8 years old), and it sold for $780. The other, “The Cherry Tree,” signed “Me 1938- For Gammy” realized $540. There were dozens of photos of Jackie, some sold in lots and some sold separately. A photo, circa 1940, showed Jackie on her horse “Danseuse,” and it sold for $840. The first known color photograph of Jackie, taken on her 14th birthday in 1943, earned $2,280, in a lot with other photos.
Bringing the highest price, $4,450, of the Jackie photos was a picture of her in her wedding gown at the reception at Hammersmith Farms. It was followed closely at $4,400 by a 1947 photo of her standing with her black 1947 Mercury convertible. This was Jackie’s first car, and the photograph was taken in the same year she was named “Debutante of the Year.” There were photos of Jackie with her children, Caroline and John John, as well as other members of Auchinloss family and friends. One item in particular was reflective of the realities of campaigning for president in the 1960s. A lucite cigarette box with the inscription “Too Beautiful To Use” was given as a gift of endearment to Joan Kennedy. According to the catalog, it was said that Joan, a beautiful woman, “would get more attention than JFK when campaigning with him. After she appeared with him at a West Virginia event, the campaign was cautious using her.” It sold for $4,200.
A lot of four prototypes of the invitations to JFK and Jackie’s wedding sold for $4,800, while typed copies of the logistics planning for the wedding and related events were sold separately. There were numerous photos of the wedding, as well as wedding photos of other family members. A first edition of Strategy of Peace by JFK brought $270 and JFK’s 44-page working manuscript for the book, sold separately, earning $1,560.
There were multiple lots of invitations to JFK’s inauguration, including invitations to the various balls and parties conducted in conjunction with the inauguration. An illustrated invitation with photos of Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson reached $600. There were multiple lots relating to the funeral of the assassinated president. A bi-fold invitation on mourning stationery, embossed with the Great Seal of the President of the United States, addressed to Mr Hugh D. Auchincloss Jr, sold for $960.
The “twist” in the auction title was a collection of sports-related memorabilia, some with Kennedy relationships. Kennedy was a lifelong sports fan and participant, and this sale included items that bridge his government and athletic interests. Included was a bat used by Ted Williams during the 1947 and 1948 Boston Red Sox seasons and signed by him, which, at $30,000, was the highest priced item in the sale. It was a 35-inch “Louisville Slugger” stamped W155 on the end of the handle, signed by Williams, and sold with a Williams stat card autographed by Williams. There was also a baseball signed by President Kennedy and the 1962 Detroit Tigers, which sold for $15,000. The ball was signed at D.C. Stadium on opening day, April 9, 1962. The president threw out the first pitch at this game, and subsequently gave this ball to his best friend and fellow sports enthusiast Dave Powers. A Ted Williams signed baseball from 1958, “To Ellen Best Wishes Ted Williams 1958,” sold for $300. A Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig autographed baseball, circa 1930, sold for $5,700. A ball signed in 1935 by 23 members of the New York Yankees, five of whom would go on to the Baseball Hall of Fame, sold for $3,300.
A few days after the sale, John McInnis said, “Although there was a lot of internet bidding, I’d say about 40 percent of the stuff, by dollar amounts, went to people in the room. They came and went during the sale, according to what they were interested in. I was surprised by some of the prices, like those paid for Jackie’s furniture from the home. We wound up with about $300,000 for the day, so that was worth the effort. Dan did a great job researching and cataloging the stuff. We’re all pleased with the sale.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.mcinnisauctions.com or 800-822-1417.
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