Lot #265
Official Mourning Flag Flown Above the White House on November 22nd

An Official Assassination Flag from the top of the White House, lowered to half-mast on November 22nd as the nation mourned
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An Official Assassination Flag from the top of the White House, lowered to half-mast on November 22nd as the nation mourned

Historic American flag, approximately 9.5 x 5 feet, which flew over the White House from November 19, 1963, to December 8, 1963, during part of the official mourning period for John F. Kennedy. This flag was presented to White House Doorman Preston Bruce and is signed in ink along the white border, “Preston Bruce, White House Doorman—November 22, 63—Recv. Dec. 8 /63,” and “Preston Bruce—White House Doorman, 53–77 [the 24 years that Mr. Bruce served at the White House], 19th Nov. 63 to Dec. 8 63—J.F.K.” Included is a letter from Preston Bruce, written on White House stationery, which states: “I certify that this flag was flown over the White House during the 30 day mourning period of President Kennedy’s death—given to me by Chief Engineer, Garland Nolan.” At the bottom, Mr. Bruce writes in his own hand, “8-21-83 White House Doorman. The flag above was flown from Nov. 19. 63. To Dec 8, 19.63.” Additionally included is a large manilla White House envelope in which Preston Bruce stored the flag. The address typed on the label reads “President John F. Kennedy, The White House, Washington, DC.” Mr. Bruce also hand-notated the envelope, “12/8/63, Flag that flew over W. H., Preston Bruce, White House Doorman.” From a point of historical fact, it was December 8, 1963, when Jacqueline Kennedy and her children actually moved out of the White House. Also included is a detailed August 21, 1983 letter of provenance from Preston Bruce to noted collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, written on White House stationery, reading, in part: “This large…American Flag is the Official Flag which flew over the White House from November 19, 1963 to Dec. 8, 1963…During the 30 days of official mourning, there was this Official Flag and only one other Official Flag that flew over the White House constantly. My understanding is that the other American Flag went to the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. Knowing that I worked closely in the vicinity of the First Family, J. B. West, the White House Chief Usher [Bruce’s boss at the time]…agreed to let me keep the flag…On the white canvas edge I have written in ink, ‘Preston Bruce White House Doorman—Nov. 22. 63—recv. Dec 8/63.’ Again, I wrote ‘Preston Bruce White House Doorman 53-77 19th Nov 63 to Dec 8 63—J. F. K.,’ the exact dates that this Official American Flag flew above the White House.” Also included is a photo of Amyx receiving the flag from Bruce in 1983 and two other snapshots as well. In overall fine condition, with some expected Fall weathering and some tears to corners. Of the thousands of flags that flew at half-mast in honor of the fallen President, at so many different US Federal locations, this is one of only two used in the official mourning observations in Washington, DC, adorning the top of the White House. With letters of provenance from Preston Bruce, with whom Kennedy shared a well-documented relationship, this is an extraordinarily significant piece: the ultimate symbol of the American tragedy. Provenance: The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection. RR Auction COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: JFK 50th Anniversary Auction
  • Dates: October 17 - October 23