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ROOSEVELT, Franklin D.

White House portfolio.

Washington, D.C.: 1942-5 Stock Code: 142981
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FDR's official White House portfolio, containing official signed stationery and autograph notes

A superbly evocative memento of the wartime FDR White House, a handsome commercial leather portfolio personalised for Roosevelt's use and containing some twenty leaves of various White House stationery and printed appointment documents all signed by Roosevelt in preparation for use. Such personal artefacts relating to FDR rarely appear on the open market.

Roosevelt has made autograph notes on three of the folders: "Robert Ford to come Wed or Thurs" (on cover of "To Sign"); "John F(?) - How handle insurance on production?" (on front of "The President / For Reading"); and "support of me - / tie in inflation - / Cash surrender - 4 compound int. from date armistice / 1,200,000,000" (inside "Miscellaneous Correspondence"). Other documents and stationery are retained within one of the five manila folders, each of which is titled holographically in pencil by a number of unidentifiable hands. Several other previous titles in ink and pencil are present inside the folders. The note "Cash surrender from date Armistice" probably refers to a law passed by Congress in 1924 that would provide "several million veterans" of the First World War with "insurance policies to be paid off for their cash surrender value in 1945" (Don Lawson, FDR's New Deal, 1979, p. 15).

The content of the notes indicate that they were written after the United States had entered the war, in particular the first memo regarding Robert Ford. Ford was very likely the captain of the Pacific Clipper, a Boeing 314, one of Pan Am's early trans-oceanic flying boats, which had been forced unexpectedly to make the first around-the-world flight by a commercial airliner. It was a story that made the headlines in the United States. The Clipper was near the end of a flight from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Ford received word from Pan Am to return to the United States by flying westward, over terrain which none of the crew was familiar with, and on their own in securing both gasoline and supplies. The Pacific Clipper eventually flew 31,500 miles over the course of 209 hours - traversing Australia, India, Arabia, Africa, the South Atlantic, and Brazil - before finally landing on the morning of January 6, 1942, at the Marine terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. "After the US entered the war, four of the 314s were pressed into military service with the US Army Air Forces Air Transport Command as the C-98 and one with the Navy, apparently under the same designation. The militarized 314s were used primarily to ferry personnel on long distance routes all over the world. One was used to carry President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Casablanca Conference in 1943, and the BOAC 314As were used on several occasions to transport Prime Minister Winston Churchill" (E. R. Johnson, American Flying Boats and Amphibious Aircraft; An Illustrated History, 2009, pp. 87-8).

The annotation of "Bob Sherwood" on one of the folders refers to the writer Robert E. Sherwood, an original member of the Algonquin Round Table. His play, Lincoln in Illinois (1939), led to his introduction to Eleanor Roosevelt and, ultimately, FDR, who he went on to serve as "speechwriter and adviser. Sherwood's speechwriting did much to make ghost-writing for public figures a respectable practice. Between service as special assistant to the secretary of war (1940) and to the secretary of the navy (1945), Sherwood served as director of the overseas branch of the Office of War Information (194144). From his wartime association with Roosevelt came much of the material for Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History", which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography and a 1949 Bancroft Prize (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

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Folio (360 x 250 mm). Brown leather portfolio, front cover lettered in gilt bottom right ("Franklin D. Roosevelt President of the United States") with pictorial desk scene stamped in blind top left, interior lined with light brown moiré cloth, inside front cover flap lettered "For Immediate Attention", 4 divisional panels lettered alphabetically along fore edges. Contents comprising: 5 manilla folders, all annotated in pencil ("Miscellaneous Correspondence & Bob Sherwood Sketches", "For the President", "The President / For Reading", "To Sign", "Signed"), the last holding 21 leaves of white or cream paper, varying letterheads, some blank, all but one signed "Franklin D. Roosevelt", two printed proclamations addressed to the Senate. All housed together in a custom brown quarter morocco and cloth slipcase, with matching chemise.


Portfolio slightly rubbed, leaves of paper fine, overall in excellent condition.


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