Auctions | October 14, 2016

Malcolm S. Forbes Estate Offers Group of JFK Handwritten and Autographed Speeches at Heritage Auctions

Harrison copy.jpgDALLAS — A rare and important letter written and signed by then presidential candidate William Henry Harrison in 1840 defending his conduct at the Battle of the Thames (est. $25,000) highlights Heritage Auctions’ offering of nearly 100 lots from the estate of Malcolm S. Forbes. The comprehensive collection of hand-written speeches, doodles and addresses by John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt among others will cross the block Oct.  19 in Dallas. 

“In the pantheon of skilled collectors, few stand out like Mr. Malcolm S. Forbes,” said Sandra Palomino, Director of Historical Manuscripts at Heritage Auctions. “His unbound curiosity combined with his scholarly view of American history made his collection one of the most important.” 

The two-page Harrison letter is a standout piece as the candidate defended himself against allegations that he was absent during the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812. The letter is a crucial defense of the candidate’s main campaign plank as a war hero.

Additional highpoints in the collection include a signed and inscribed address Theodore Roosevelt delivered to the Illinois State Bar Association in 1916 stating his position in favor of entering World War I (est. $5,000), future President Andrew Johnson’s marriage certificate from 1827, a typed statement by Woodrow Wilson on the League of Nations from 1920, and a Franklin D. Roosevelt signed photograph in a silver presentation frame inscribed to his wife and political partner Eleanor.

Perhaps the most telling group in the collection are the hand-written speeches, addresses and even doodles by President John F. Kennedy. Among them are a 1957 set of hand-written notes, written for a speech as the head of a Senate committee (est. $3,000); a legal-sized sheet of doodles, including a sailboat and a reference to the Berlin Wall (est. $1,000); and a 1958, six-page typescript manuscript of remarks made in observance of Israel’s 10th anniversary  — with various emendations throughout in Kennedy’s hand mentioning his historic description of “the enemy at the gate”(est. $2,000).

Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:

Wilbur and Orville Wright signed photograph, also signed by President William H. Taft, 1910, (est. $7,000). 

Two autographed letters signed and a drawing by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, circa 1935, (est. $3,000).

President Woodrow Wilson autographed draft of an announcement regarding Pancho Villa, 1916 (est. $2,500).

A draft of an letter written and signed by President Ronald Reagan, 1967 ($1,200).

Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $800 million, and over one million online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit 

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