Official White House photographs of President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, both signed, are among the many pieces of White House and presidential memorabilia and mementos collected by an official White House carpenter who worked under eight presidents. These items will be auctioned at Great Gatsby’s in Atlanta on Oct. 12.
ATLANTA, Ga. – Perfectly timed to coincide with election season, a massive single-owner private collection of White House Presidential, First Lady and First Family mementos, memorabilia and gifts—all gathered by a man who worked at the White House from the Truman through the Reagan administrations—will be sold at auction Friday, Oct. 12, by Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery here in Atlanta.
Bonner Arrington was a carpenter at the White House for 33 years, and during his time there he had unique and direct access to the most powerful office-holder in the world. Involved in all of the day-to-day maintenance and special events that occurred within the public and private rooms of the White House, Arrington began, early on, to proudly cherish every small memento that came his way while doing a job that, as a poor boy from Covington, Va., he never dreamed possible. Arrington’s wife Alphadine (“Deanie”) also worked at the White House from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.
A diaper pin monogrammed “John F. Kennedy. Jr., November 25, 1960” from the JFK presidency.
The collection was consigned by the couple’s grandson, Johnny Lloyd of Atlanta. “Even if it wasn’t a presidential election year, this collection would still attract enormous attention,” said Marie Kowalik, president of Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery. “It’s quite literally a historical timeline of 20th century White House history.”
Arrington’s grandson has stories of his own to share, from walking in awe as a small boy through the halls of the White House holding onto his granddad’s hand, to later years when his grandfather would tell him of building the bier for President Kennedy’s coffin so that it might lay in state in the East Room of the White House, to happier times of building the gazebo for Tricia Nixon’s White House wedding.
Highlights of the sale include President Truman’s inauguration invitation from 1949, original signed photos of President and Mrs. Truman, original photos of Truman at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds and one of Truman’s monogrammed handkerchiefs.
From the Eisenhower years come President Eisenhower’s inauguration invitation dated 1957, an original framed and matted photograph of first Lady Mamie Eisenhower taken by noted portrait and fashion photograph Louise Dahl Wolfe (Am., 1895-1989) signed in pencil by the photographer, a letter handwritten and signed by Mrs. Eisenhower, two Presidential golf balls, one imprinted “Ike,” the other imprinted “Mr. President,” two thank you notes typed on White House stationery, one signed Dwight D. Eisenhower and the other signed Mamie Doud Eisenhower, and an official White House photo of President Eisenhower with Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Pair of White House cigarette lighters, engraved with the Presidential seal and LBJ’s signature.
From the Kennedy administration will be offered official White House photos of President and Mrs. Kennedy (inscribed by JFK and signed by both), and an official packet issued by the Ford Motor Company for “The Presidential Continental” (the very limousine the President was riding in the day he was assassinated), “John John’s” (John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s) diaper pin monogrammed “John F. Kennedy Jr., November 25, 1960”, mementos from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s redecoration of the White House in 1961-62, a note handwritten and signed by Mrs. Kennedy, and mementos surrounding the White House funeral of President Kennedy.
Items from the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson include mementos from daughter Lynda Byrd Johnson’s White House wedding, a pair of White House cigarette lighters (both engraved with the presidential seal and Johnson’s signature), framed and signed White House photographs and a Johnson campaign set of cuff links, tie clips and lapel pins with the slogan “LBJ for the USA.”
From the Nixon years comes a White House photo album embossed with the presidential seal containing 39 official photographs, a bronze White House key ring and tie clips all with a raised presidential seal, a White House ashtray etched on the underside with the presidential seal and Nixon’s signature, mementos from Tricia Nixon’s White House wedding, including photographs, wedding invitation, press releases and three pieces of preserved wedding cake each in its original tissue wrapped and embossed presentation box, and an original copy of The Washington Post covering Nixon’s resignation.
Glass dish decorated with with the Presidential seal and inscribed “Aboard Air Force One,” with Gerald Ford’s signature.
Items from the Ford presidency will include three White House gift pens, a pair of White House tie clips, a pair of White House cuff links (each with the raised presidential seal), a glass dish decorated with the presidential seal and inscribed “Aboard Air Force One” with Ford’s signature, framed White House photos signed Jerry Ford and Betty Ford, and an original copy of the White House press release announcing President Ford’s pardoning of President Nixon.
The Carter presidency is represented in the sale by White House gifts that give nod to the Carter Family’s peanut farm in southern Georgia with pendants in the shape of peanuts. Also included will be a partial carton of Korean cigarettes (four unopened packs), each one imprinted with “Welcome to the Republic of Korea, the President of the United States of America and Mrs. Jimmy Carter,” plus photographs signed by President and Mrs. Carter, and presidential Christmas cards.
Items from the Reagan presidency will include an official White House photograph of President Reagan and Vice President Bush with original autographs, a photo of first Lady Nancy Reagan with an original signature, seven presidential cigars (Ornelas brand, made in Mexico), 10 unused matchbooks, each imprinted “The President’s House,” and one of President Reagan’s oval office Jelly Belly brand jelly bean jars (the brand made famous by The Gipper himself).
Last but not least are three of the most unusual pieces in the sale: a rocking chair from the Roosevelt administration, destined for the trash, the underside with a plaque inscribed: “Executive Mansion, Theodore Roosevelt” (it was President Roosevelt himself who renamed the Executive Mansion the “White House”); a small piece of burned wood post removed from the White House in 1950 during the Truman administration, when President Truman had the entire interior of the then-structurally unstable White House gutted for restoration and remodeling (this burned post is believed to have survived the White House fire of 1814 set by British soldiers and carries a bronze plaque that reads, “Original White House Material Removed in 1950”); and finally, “The Resolute Desk”—a handcrafted and hand-carved solid mahogany replica of the Presidential desk that resides in the Oval Office, made to the exact specifications of the original, crafted and consigned to Great Gatsby’s by the same Old World artisans who crafted this desk for the Reagan, Carter and George H. Bush Presidential Libraries.
“The Resolute Desk”—handcrafted and hand-carved replica of the desk from the Oval Office.
The auction will be held in Great Gatsby’s 60,000 square foot gallery located at 5180 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta, starting at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, Kct. 12—the first day of a huge three-day weekend sale. Saturday, October 13, will feature fine antiques, fine art, decorative arts, architectural accents and classic cars from fine estates and private collections around the world. On Sunday, October 14, Great Gatsby’s will offer an important single-owner private collection of never-before-seen Native American artifacts dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. Featured will be rugs, blankets, pottery, kachina dolls, baskets and jewelry.
“We are proud to have been selected to sell these two outstanding private collections, and pleased that we continue to be known for offering the rare and the unusual to collectors around the world,” Kowalik said.
Internet bidding for all three sale dates, with live audio/video streaming, will be conducted through Great Gatsby’s website. Telephone and absentee bids will also be taken. Previews will be held the week leading up to the auction.
For more information about this auction, call 770.457.1903 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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