The Art of Kennedy Collectibles

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, is the most collected American President. Regardless of whether your budget is $2 or $2 million there is a collectible item right for you.

Items related to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, or JFK as the 35th President of the United States is often divided into several time periods.

  1. Pre-political life
  2. Senate
  3. Presidential campaign
  4. Presidential term
  5. Assassination
  6. Post Assassination
  7. Kennedy family

Large and important collections of Kennedy memorabilia have appeared over the years, many of these items have been acquired by museums, presidential libraries and individual personal collections.

So what is the special attraction Americans have for collecting items associated with a President who was assassinated  before most Americans were even born?

The reality  is that Kennedy was elected by the smallest vote margin the history of presidential elections. Kennedy received 112,827 (0.17%) more votes than Nixon (less than a ½ of one percent margin in the popular vote. However 303 to 219 Electoral votes.  Hardly a mandate

But year after year John F Kennedy collectible items fetch some of the highest prices for political and presidential memorabilia. However, since there  is no true “price guide” collectors should be careful to compare prices and deal only with reputable dealers with long standing reputations.  One additional source of comfort comes from dealers who are members of the American Political Items Collectors organization (APIC). This organization has a strict code of ethics and a long standing and excellent reputation.

Some artifacts are purported to be items owned by the President or his family. These are the most difficult to authenticate. Just because someone may say that JFK “once owned this shirt” does not make it true.  When purchasing items of this type you want to be sure to ask what type of provenance (proof) comes with the item.

Items associated with the assassination of President Kennedy when his presidency was cut short by an assassin’s bullet, hold special interest to collectors.   Upon Kennedy’s death unique and historical collectibles quickly increased in value. At the same time, thousands of mass produced items flooded the market for Americans eager to both commemorate and mourn the life and death of the young President.

Hardly a day goes by when a family does not contact us hoping that the copies of Life or Look magazine or their local daily newspaper are worth a small fortune. But when it comes to collectibles items need to have BOTH interest and scarcity in order to have high value.  Since many newspapers, magazines and mass produced souvenirs were produced in the millions and saved by so many American families, they lack scarcity.

So what type of Kennedy collectibles generate the most interest? Campaign buttons, buttons, coins, posters and medals would lead the pack, followed closely by items related to Kennedy’s inauguration and assassination.  

 Two huge treasure troves of Kennedy collectibles have become available in years past. The first, the Robert L. White, was sold in a multi-million dollar auction. Even catalogs related to the auction have significant value. The second massive collection came from Evelyn Lincoln, John F. Kennedy’s personal secretary. Some of Evelyn Lincoln’s items even wound up in Robert Whites’ collection. Lincoln’s collection included a plethora of unusual, unique and highly collectible items from the Kennedy presidency. After Lincoln’s death her estimate became the subject of a messy legal battle over the rights to her collection