George Washington Document and John F. Kennedy Notes From Night Prior To His Assassination Command Thousands at RR Auction

by Brooke Kennedy

In a 1769 document, first president George Washington marks up a ledger of transactions between himself and captain John Posey. Washington tracks his dealings taking place between 1765 and 1769 including, “Security on his Lands and Negroes for £750,” “A subsequent & further security on ye above Negroes for £70,” and “a Bill of Sale for Sundry stock, goods & chattels as a…security to me against a joint bond of his & mine to Colo. Mason for £200.”

Ledger documenting Washington and Posey's transactions, with a close-up of Washington's signature.
Ledger documenting Washington and Posey’s transactions, with a close-up of Washington’s signature.

At the time, Posey was George Washington’s next door neighbor at Mount Vernon, the former president’s historic home. While they did form a friendship, he relied heavily on Washington for loans to pay his debts incurred from his business failings. The ledger presents information regarding those dealings with Posey as well as his participation in the heinous institution of slavery.

For RR Auction’s May Fine Autographs and Artifacts auction, we honored John F. Kennedy during the month of his birth with a special section dedicated to the 35th president. Items ranged from personal artifacts to those relating to his tragic assassination. Sold for $34,504, this piece of paper contains the swift scribbles from the president during his stay at Houston’s Rice Hotel the night before his final flight to Dallas.

Likely taken while on the phone, Kennedy writes several quick notes, “1963,” “10 thousand tons,” “50 or 60 %,” “11:45,” and the surname “Smith” twice (ostensibly a reference to his brother-in-law and campaign strategist Stephen E. Smith).

Kennedy’s notes, written in bold pencil on a piece of Rice Hotel stationery.
Kennedy’s notes, written in bold pencil on a piece of Rice Hotel stationery.

According to Kennedy collector Robert L. White, “Kennedy attended a meeting of the League of United Latin American Citizens at the Rice Hotel. This page came to me in 1995 along with 4 other pages written on this Rice Hotel note paper. Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln gave me them as they were in her personal collection and saved by her.” Lincoln was Kennedy’s personal secretary, assisting the president all the way from his Senate days up until his death.

This set of doodles by JFK on the night of his assassination are not the first to be sold by RR. In 2013, Kennedy’s sketch of a sailboat – a reminder of his love for his own boat the Victura – realized a price of $32,943.

Beyond American history, a royal figure from the other side of the pond brought in a high price for its consignor. At just 23 years old King Henry VIII, in a document sold for $33,219, orders Sir Robert Dymoke to make payment of “7.13.4 pounds” on behalf of England and the occupied French town of Tournay (Tournai).

Document signed by famous monarch King Henry VIII, which still bears a paper-and-wax seal.
Document signed by famous monarch King Henry VIII, which still bears a paper-and-wax seal.

Just two years after Henry ascended to the throne in 1511, he waged war with France under the support of his father-in-law Ferdinand II of Aragon, and on September 25, 1513, Henry made his ceremonial entry into Tournai. 

The Sir Robert Dymoke mentioned had a storied career with the monarchy. He was the ‘King’s Champion” at the coronations of Richard III, Henry VII, and Henry VII. A role which required him to ride into Westminster Hall at the coronation banquet and challenge any attendees who might dispute the King’s title. After the Siege of Tournai, he became the King’s treasurer under Henry VIII. Though summer is just beginning, RR Auction is looking to fill auctions for the coming autumn season. Our September Remarkable Rarities auction will be held live in Boston, MA and we’re seeking items that meet a value of $10,000 or more. Past successes have included a signed first edition of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates ($593,750), an Apple-1 Computer hand-numbered by Steve Jobs ($468,750), and an Atomic Bomb book signed by key figures from the Manhattan Project including Einstein and Oppenheimer ($162,500). You can view last year’s auction results for more examples.

Looking beyond our live auction, we are still open for consignments for Fine Autographs and Artifacts, Space Exploration and Aviation, and Marvels of Modern Music. If you have an item you’d like to sell in any category, contact our team by calling 800-937-3880 or fill out our inquiry form below.

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