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Lot 144

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JFK Assassination Aftermath, Over 48' of Historic Teletype, November 22-25, 1963

Original assembled teletype fragments from Associated Press (AP) reporting of the immediate aftermath of the assassination of 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), including: details about JFK's assassination on November 22, 1963; the apprehension of Lee Harvey Oswald; Oswald's shooting by Jack Ruby; Texas Governor John Connally's recovery; JFK's funeral and other events of national mourning; and the transition and emergence of 36th U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration. The AP codes have not been deciphered, but the press reporting appears to date from the late afternoon or evening of November 22nd to at least the morning of November 25, 1963. Provenance: From the collection of Ron Hoskins, assassinologist.

The teletype consists of an enormous piece of continuous roll measuring approximately 182" or over 15,' as well as additional roll fragments in various sizes including one piece as small as around 2" x 8.5." All told, the AP press coverage assembled here measures approximately 580" or an astounding 48.' Condition issues include gentle overall toning as well as isolated sun struck darker areas, wrinkles, unevenly torn edges, and some printed ink fading. Else very good to near fine, especially considering its age and ephemeral nature.

This series of AP special features reports, called "telescripts" by news historians, appear to be in the form of five-minute news summaries. These news bulletins are referred to in the teletype subheadings as either "spot summaries," Jigsaw News," or "Flashes of Life." The roll is organized numerically by AP codes. Other unknown transmission codes appear in the text, as well as editorial notes concerning fact-checking and publishing format. Teletypes were typed quickly by hand and sent via telephone lines to newsrooms across the country. The nature of 1960s news was therefore incomplete and subject to constant revision: incorrect information was amended, stories rewritten, and language condensed.

Major themes emerge in this collection of AP press coverage:

- The exact timeline of events, from JFK's assassination to Oswald's arrest, interrogation, and shooting

- Background information about Lee Harvey Oswald, including his age, personal appearance, temperament, personal history (discharge from Marines, self-inflicted injury while in service, marksmanship), possible political beliefs (Communist vs. Marxist, defection to the Soviet Union, marriage to Marina Prusakova), possible motives for assassinating JFK

- Speculation about whether Oswald acted alone or was aided by Cuba, the Soviet Union, East Germany, or right wing domestic terrorists, as well as whether Oswald's murder was a cover-up

- The ongoing criminal investigation of JFK's assassination, including accounts of Oswald's activities at the Dallas Book Depository and hand prints on a rifle found on the sixth floor

There are also moments of welcome distraction buried within the teletype transcript. The world had certainly stopped after Kennedy's death, but the news also carried NFL sports scores, updates on Vietnam, and a story about a parachute jumper's death, among others.

Sixty years after JFK was assassinated in the Dallas, Texas motorcade, we view the monumental event with the detachment that comes from hindsight and a misleading sense of historic inevitability. Not so, however, when events were unfolding in horrific real time. This press coverage highlights the exciting and incomplete nature of news as it trickled in. Thus, we get plenty of surprising revelations--such as the rumors circulating after the assassination that LBJ had also been shot in the motorcade or had had a heart attack--and an abundance of ironic revelations--such as the Texas District Attorney's confident assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald would face the death penalty (and not be shot in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters.)

A truly unique piece of Kennedyiana, from one of the world's foremost collectors.

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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September 30, 2020 10:30 AM EDT

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