AMESBURY – Local history buffs will have an opportunity to obtain their own piece of American history next month when a collection of John F. Kennedy’s personal belongings is put up for bid by John McInnis Auctioneers.
The collection is being sold off by the estate of David Powers, a special advisor and close personal friend of the former president who went on to become the first curator of the JFK Library in Boston.
The collection includes more than 700 photographs, letters, official correspondence, documents and gifts obtained by Powers over the years.
“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; we are totally amazed at the breadth of this collection,” said Dan Meader, an appraiser for McInnis Auctioneers. “The presidency of JFK was such a short period of time, but this is a collection that starts in the ‘30s and ‘40s, right through his life and then beyond.”
The collection includes several hundred items from the very beginning of Kennedy’s political career and runs through his presidency and even includes Kennedy memorabilia following his death. Among the items are correspondence with Jackie Kennedy and even an invitation to Caroline Kennedy’s wedding.
But the highlight of the auction is expected to be an Air Force One bomber jacket that belonged to Kennedy and was given to Powers shortly before the president was assassinated 50 years ago.
The brown leather jacket, which has the presidential seal sewn on the front, is estimated to be worth between $20,000 and $40,000. It comes with a color photograph of Kennedy wearing it while watching the America’s Cup race. It was apparently also loaned to President Ronald Reagan, and the auction includes a letter from Reagan to Powers thanking him for the jacket.
Powers, who died in 1998 at the age of 85, was deeply involved in Kennedy’s political career and traveled with the president from 1946 until his death in 1963. He remained close with the family after the president’s assassination and was instrumental in the creation the JFK Library.
Powers’ children recently found the collection locked away as they were preparing to sell his family home. Most of Powers’ Kennedy-related items were donated to the JFK Library years ago, but he decided to keep some of the deeply personal things for himself, Meader.
“Some of these things are totally unique,” Meader said, adding that he has no idea how much the collection will ultimately sell for since so many of the items are truly one-of-a-kind.
The auction will be held at John McInnis Auctioneers at 76 Main St. in Amesbury on Sunday, Feb. 17, starting at 11 a.m. Prior to the auction, there will be a public exhibition of the collection Feb. 9 to 16 from 1 to 7 p.m., and again on auction day starting at 8 a.m.
Admission to the auction will be $50 for a color catalog of the items and two seats. A portion of the catalog proceeds will be donated to the JFK Library. Bids can be placed on McInnis’ website as well.