University Archives

Lot 284

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Francis Gary Powers Signed FDC Commemorating JFK's 50th Birthday

A Prominent American Series John F. Kennedy 50th Birthday Anniversary First Day of Issue cover signed by CIA operative and spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers (1929-1977) as "Francis Gary Powers" at center. A portrait of slain 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) is visible at right, along with an image of his birthplace in Brookline, Massachusetts. Also bearing a 13-cent John F. Kennedy canceled stamp. Postmarked from Dallas, Texas on May 29, 1967 on what would have been JFK's 50th birthday. Slight blue haloing around Powers' signature. The back flap has been neatly removed. Else near fine. 6.5" x 3.625." Provenance: From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

Francis Gary Powers, an ex-U.S. Air Force pilot, was recruited by the CIA U-2 espionage program in the late 1950s. In this role, Powers undertook secretive and dangerous high-altitude reconnaissance missions in Soviet air space, snapping photographs of military installations, transportation hubs, and other landmarks. On May 1, 1960, Powers was shot down by Soviet aircraft in the Ural Mountains region. He successfully parachuted out of his aircraft but was apprehended by Soviet authorities. Powers was convicted of espionage in August 1960 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was eventually released in a prisoner exchange on February 10, 1962 after serving a little less than two years.

What is the connection between Francis Gary Powers and John F. Kennedy? Powers was shot down during the last months of the Eisenhower administration, but his high-profile release was orchestrated by the Kennedy administration. It is possible, too, that Powers' connection to both the CIA and the Soviet Union appealed to collectors interested in alternative Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.

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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March 3, 2021 10:30 AM EST

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