FORT WORTH, Texas – It has been 53 years since President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas. Mementos from that day in 1963 remain — and some of them are now on the auction block.
But they won’t come cheap.
Items for sale include the gun used when assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, handcuffs used on Oswald during the arrest, and even a metal post from the fence near the spot where Kennedy was shot.
“The Kennedy assassination is one of those iconic events in American history,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political-science professor at Texas Christian University. “Interest in it just keeps growing and growing and growing.
Among items up for sale:
• The .38-caliber pistol used by Dallas Police Sgt. Gerald Hill when he arrested Oswald in the Texas Theater hours after Kennedy’s assassination. Hill was involved in the initial investigation at the Texas Schoolbook Depository before responding to the theater after a report of a suspicious character seen entering there. After a short struggle, Oswald was arrested. The opening bid for the Colt Police Positive double-action revolver is $4,000 at Heritage Auctions.
• There’s also a metal post from the fence on the grassy knoll, with a starting bid of $23,500. The description of the item, for sale on eBay, says that this fence post “is the very same one that was standing at almost the exact position from where the United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations concluded it to be probable that someone fired a rifle from behind the Fence on the grassy knoll at President John F. Kennedy on that fateful day.”
The post — part of the stockade style picket fence built on the grassy knoll in the 1950s — was about 7 feet, 10 inches west of the corner of the fence that day. The starting bid for the fence post is listed at $23,500. Bidding ends Sunday.
• And there are the handcuffs used in Oswald’s arrest. Police officers, including Hill, covered all the exits and turned on the house lights before finding the person they believed to have shot a fellow officer. When Oswald drew a gun, an officer quickly put a pair of Smith & Wesson handcuffs on him. He was taken downtown and booked and the handcuffs, with the serial number 38468, were returned to the officer.
The online opening bid for the handcuffs was $50,000 through Goldin Auctions. The bid recently went up to $65,000 and the auction house suggested that the handcuffs could be worth around $250,000. Bidding ends around Dec. 3.
“You are paying for the thrill of owning something that has historical worth,” Riddlesperger said. “For some people, there’s a value to the memory.”
Countless other JFK-related items can be found in auctions around the country.
On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy woke up at the old Hotel Texas in Fort Worth and spoke to a cheering crowd before boarding Air Force One for the short flight to Dallas. He and his wife, Jacqueline, rode in a motorcade that was expected to take them to the Dallas Trade Mart for a luncheon with civic leaders.
Instead, around 12:30 p.m., as the motorcade passed the grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza on the west end of downtown Dallas, shots rang out.
Cal Jillson, a political-science professor at Southern Methodist University, said that there may well be people ready to buy the remaining JFK-related memorabilia.
“For the small group of people focused on the Kennedy assassination, they may be willing to pay that,” he said.