Lot 16: John F. Kennedy's Watchband
8th November 2017
Kennedy’s personally-owned and -worn Lord Elgin brown leather watch band removed from the gold Cartier watch which had been given to him by Jackie for their fourth wedding anniversary, and had been engraved on the back with their wedding date, “J.F.K., 9-12-57.” In overall fine condition. This historic piece is accompanied by a binder of extensive documentation and research detailing its history, compiled by previous owner and renowned Kennedy collector Robert L. White. A gift from Jackie to her husband in celebration of their fourth wedding anniversary, the watch—according to a letter from Kennedy’s longtime secretary Evelyn Lincoln to White—“was worn by President John F. Kennedy for a short while, but he then discarded it because he didn’t like the wrist band.” The band was then replaced with a black alligator band, and Kennedy began to wear the watch on a regular basis; he was wearing it as such on November 22, 1963. After being rushed to Parkland Hospital, Kennedy was brought to Trauma Room #1, where Nurse Diana Bowron was on duty. Included in the accompanying information with this band are a copy of her testimony before the Warren Commission and a hospital memo describing her role in treating Kennedy, in part: “Two of the doctors wished to start fluids in the President’s left arm, upon which he was wearing a gold watch with a black leather strap. As this was about to fall off I removed it and placed it in my pocket for safe keeping…I ran to the blood bank and collected two units of uncrossmatched blood. I returned to the Emergency Room and…was told that the President was dead…As the body was being removed, I remembered that I still had the President’s gold watch in my pocket. I ran out to the Triage desk and there I saw Mr. Wright. I gave him the gold watch and explained how I had come by it.” Additional corroborating accounts, including an excerpt from O. P. Wright, Head of Security at Parkland, are also provided. The watch was then given to Special Agent Roger C. Warner; a notarized statement from Warner confirms that he picked up the watch from Mr. Wright on November 26, 1963, and sent it back to Washington. From there, Special Agent Robert Bouck released the watch to agent Clint Hill for its return to Mrs. Kennedy; a receipt from the National Archives confirms this. Before he returned it, Hill replaced the bloodied black alligator band with this original one, to spare the grieving widow the additional reminder of the gruesome event. A photocopied letter from Evelyn Lincoln to Robert White reads, in part: “Soon after Mrs. Kennedy moved out of the White House in 1964…she filled an entire room with cast offs. Dresses, yard goods, all kinds of clothing belonging to the President, herself and her children…Mrs. Kennedy invited me, among the first of many of her friends, to come to that room and choose anything I wanted…I carried away many, many very personal items.” Completing the chain of ownership, Robert White has included two notarized letters, both showing images of the watch and this band, reading, in part: “This is…as I received it on June 5th, 1992 from Evelyn Lincoln…it is indeed the watch he wore for many years and was wearing the day of the assassination in Dallas. The original black Cartier alligator strap…was removed by the Secret Service and replaced with the Lord Elgin leather strap before the watch was returned to Mrs. Kennedy on December 2nd, 1963.” An extensively documented Kennedy artifact with clear ties to Camelot’s first couple and their fateful day in Dallas. Provenance: The Robert White Collection.
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