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Lot 328

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FDR's Son Jimmy & Rose Kennedy Visit Pope Pius XI

An invitation in Italian to a private audience with Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) extended to James "Jimmy" Roosevelt II (1907-1991), the oldest son of sitting 32nd U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890-1995), the wife of entrepreneur Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.; and others on Monday, October 23, 1933 at 12:30 pm at the Vatican. Provenance: From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

The partly printed invitation is on "Anticamera Pontificia" ["Papal Antechamber"] letterhead. The bifold stationery features a gorgeous watermark depicting a three-tiered papal tiara and a pair of crossed keys. The invitation is signed at lower right by the Pope's chamberlain, or "Il Maestro di Camera di S.S." The inner pages are blank. Lightly age-toned with darkened edges. A rusted paper clip impression can be found at top. Expected paper folds, and a minor closed tear along the right edge mentioned just for accuracy. Else very good to near fine. 5.25" x 8.125."

The invitation is translated in part as: "His Holiness will receive in private audience / Mr. James Roosevelt + wife? [illegible] / Mrs. Kennedy Mr. Houghton / Comm. Imp. Galeassi / on the day of Monday 23 / at 12:30 / Vatican, 22 October 1933."

Jimmy Roosevelt had accompanied Joseph Kennedy, Sr. to Europe on business in the fall of 1933. Jimmy was a recent college graduate who had just co-founded his own insurance agency, Roosevelt & Sargent; Kennedy was a veteran wheeler and dealer who had befriended the new President's son. Kennedy wanted to secure exclusive contracts with several British liquor concerns in advance of the probable repeal of Prohibition. Jimmy's new insurance company would safeguard Kennedy's partners' transatlantic shipping and cargo. While on this European trip--which included a visit to Winston Churchill's Chartwell Manor--Jimmy and the Kennedys ventured southward to Italy and visited Pope Pius XI. (Material relating to this papal audience can also be found among the Personal Papers of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy found at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.)

The friendship of Jimmy Roosevelt and Joseph Kennedy, Sr. united two of America's most powerful families in an enduring personal and political alliance. Jimmy viewed Joseph, Sr. as a mentor who could introduce him to the basics of business without FDR's parental interference. Joseph, Sr. was a generous donor to FDR's political campaigns and used his connections to Jimmy to secure his Ambassadorship to the United Kingdom (1938-1940).

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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