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August 31, 2017 04:05 PM

In the hours following her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy asked White House staff to hurriedly research the funeral of Abraham Lincoln 98 years before — envisioning a new tribute matching the one for the earlier slain president.

One of the items pulled was Lincoln’s catafalque — the decorated wooden framework meant to support the coffin of a distinguished person — which was ultimately used to hold Kennedy’s casket while on display in the East Room of the White House.

To get the two crossed military swords that traditionally adorn the catafalque, the White House borrowed one from Officer Jack Cutcomb and the other from Lt. Henry Hirschy, who served as a staffer to the Naval Aide throughout the 35th president’s time in office.

Now, these treasured, historic items will be one of the centerpieces of a new auction by Guernsey’s — the third sale the New York auction house has put on this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth.


“We have these two historic swords representing the body of president Kennedy in the White House following the assassination,” Guersney’s president, Arlan Ettinger, tells PEOPLE. “And we’ve estimated those two swords at $300,000 each apiece. They are matching. They are each well, well documented. And very, very significant.”

Other Kennedy memorabilia found within the sale, dubbed the Lt. Henry Hirschy Collection, include rare transcripts of his address to the nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis and his noteworthy “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

There are personal items too: his monogrammed cigars, a pair of his swim trunks, Jackie’s black lace mantilla — believed to be from when she visited the Vatican in 1962 — and the silver toothbrushes of their children, John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Caroline Kennedy.

“They’re inscribed,” Ettinger said of the toothbrushes. “They’re inscribed, Caroline and JFK, Jr.”


Most iconic might be a leather bomber jacket that was made for President Kennedy to replace the well-worn one he always sported. It was delivered to the White House just before his assassination, Ettinger explained.

“This is the exact duplicate — created to replace the one that was worn. And it would have been worn probably within a week or two had the president survived,” Ettinger said. “But never worn because of the assassination.”


Several original busts of the president made by sculptor Robert Berks are also up for auction, including two of only six castings of his heroic-sized bronzes (“It’s a mate to the one that’s in the White House, but it’s just the president’s head as opposed to his full body,” said Ettinger).

A painting of JFK by artist Aaron Shikler, who also created the presidential portrait that hangs in the White House to this day, will also be included among the many artistic renderings up for bid.


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Complementing the collection will be items from Mary Gallagher — Jackie’s former personal secretary from 1957-1964 — and items from Francis Gary Powers, whose story was told in the 2015 Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies. 

The Kennedy Powers Auction will be held on Oct. 6 and 7 at 680 Park Avenue in New York City. Those unable to attend in person can participate via internet or phone.

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