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Ronald Reagan 2x Signed WH Memo Days After Inauguration - "getting a… new job" - Re: "Death Valley Days" With Bonus 3rd Sig

A White House memorandum letter draft twice signed by sitting 40th U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), the first time in a directive to his secretary as "sign all of them Ronald Reagan"; and the second time initialed as "RR" at the conclusion of the 111-word letter draft. N.d. but ca. January 23, 1981, just days after Reagan's first inauguration on January 20th. [Washington, D.C.] The White House memorandum is stapled to its accompanying correspondence, a typed letter signed by advertising executive Jack F. Kerr, which is annotated by Reagan with 16 words and signed by him a third time as "RR." Impeccable provenance as this item comes from the files of Helene von Damm (b. 1938), Reagan's longtime personal secretary and later Ambassador to Austria, and gifted to our consignor, her White House assistant.

The lot is comprised of:

1. On a single leaf of watermarked stationery with "Memorandum / The White House / Washington" letterhead, Reagan has written to his secretary at top: "Send 3 letters as for the attached. Make only 1 - 1st name - Jack Kerr - 'Dear Jack' - But sign all of them Ronald Reagan." With one contemporaneous cross-out in the letter draft below. Expected wear including gentle wrinkles and minor folds mostly affecting the right edge. Stapled at upper left. Else near fine. 8.5" x 11."

Reagan's letter draft, in full:

"Dear --

I'm sending three of these letters because I understand there were 3 of you involved in my handsome gifts. I've just been reminded that somehow in the moving plus getting a job I've not thanked you. Please accept my abject apology, I'm truly sorry.

My brother did deliver the silver reel and the mule and I'm delighted to have them. Believe me they serve as a reminder of a most happy association. In fact there have already been a few days in this new job when I longed to be back doing 'Death Valley Days.'

Thank you again and once more my apologies for being so late.



2. A 1p typed letter signed by Jack F. Kerr, the longtime Advertising Director for 20 Mule Team, a cleaning product manufactured by the United States Borax & Chemical Corporation, as "Jack" above his printed signature as "Jack F. Kerr." January 23, 1981. N.p. On a leaf of watermarked paper with "U.S. Borax" (along with an illustration of mule-drawn wagons) at the letterhead. The typed letter is inscribed and signed by Reagan at upper right as: "Incidentally I understand we've been using P.O. Box 415 for my brother - should be 413. RR." Above this is a clerical note directing "Lindy" to implement this address change. Gentle wrinkles along the right edge. Stapled at upper left. 8.5" x 11."

Ronald Reagan, fresh from his tenure hosting General Electric Theatre, hosted the television western series "Death Valley Days" from 1964-1966. In addition to being the host of the show, Reagan also starred in 21 episodes, all portraying real-life stories from the pioneering days of the American West. Reagan's work on "Death Valley Days" was his last-ever acting commitment, as he left the show to become Governor of California in January 1967. "Death Valley Days" began as an incredibly popular radio segment from 1930-1945, and moved to a 30-minute format television program from 1952-1970.

The first corporate sponsor of "Death Valley Days" was the Pacific Coast Borax Company, which merged with United States Borax & Chemical Corporation in 1956, which in turn became a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Minerals in 1967. The original lineup of bestselling Pacific Coast Borax cleaning products pitched in advertising segments by Reagan and other "Death Valley" hosts included 20 Mule Team Borax, a general household and laundry cleaner; Boraxo, a powdered hand soap; and Borateem, a laundry detergent. The product name 20 Mule Team Borax referred to the company's late nineteenth-century origins, carting mined borax out of Death Valley via mule-drawn wagons. Borax, also known as sodium tetraborate, continues to be mined in southwestern U.S. deserts today.

Reagan's older brother John Neil Reagan (1908-1996), nicknamed "Moon" after a vivacious character in a comic strip, worked as an account executive at McCann-Erickson for many years before becoming a senior vice president at the firm and heading up its Los Angeles office. McCann-Erickson was the ad agency that had proposed the "Death Valley Days" show. As an interesting aside, Neil Reagan directed the "Death Valley" episodes in which his younger brother starred.

Jack F. Kerr, a McCann-Erickson account supervisor in Los Angeles, was promoted to Advertising Director for 20 Mule Team in its New York office in the early 1960s. He worked closely with Ronald Reagan during "Death Valley" filming, executing the terms of Reagan's contract.

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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