Signed, but Never Sent.
Updated: Sep 30, 2018
In the traumatic aftermath of Kennedy's death, the whereabouts of President Kennedy's 1963 Christmas cards were all but forgotten.
In 1963, a color photo of the Creche in the East Room of the White House was chosen to grace the White House Christmas card of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy. To date, it is the first and only presidential card to feature an overtly religious image on the cover.
On the inside, beneath a gold embossed Presidential Seal, is one of two engraved messages: "With our wishes for a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year" or “With best wishes for a Happy New Year." Some cards were ordered without signatures; others were ordered with facsimile signatures.
Hallmark Cards delivered a partial shipment to the White House mid-November.
Evelyn Lincoln, Personal Secretary to the late President, verified that Jacqueline Kennedy began signing at her leisure in ladylike fashion a handful of cards, with blue ink. At his desk in the Oval Office, the President boldly added his signature in black ink. He signed them shortly before departing November 21 on that fateful campaign swing through Dallas. Upon their return there would be plenty of time to sign the rest of the 750 cards, which would be sent to friends, supporters and Heads of State. Lincoln confirmed that "[the signed cards] were limited in number." About 30 cards were signed, but never sent. That's the uniqueness of this card.
In the traumatic aftermath of Kennedy’s death, desks were emptied; papers were gathered and put into storage. The whereabouts of President Kennedy's 1963 Christmas cards were all but forgotten. According to Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, of American Heritage Autographs and Collectibles, "The unspeakable tragedy on November 22, that negatively changed the history of the world, left behind the rarest known Christmas card ever signed by a President and First Lady." The dual-signed Christmas cards were not located until 1985.
Once discovered, these rare cards were sold at auctions and absorbed into personal collections.
“Historians owe more to collectors than we usually recognize,” concluded historian Arthur M. Schlesinger. Collectors accumulate objects of their affections that enrich the historical record and “very often rescue evidence that might otherwise have vanished down the memory hole,” he added. The rare 1963 signed Kennedy Christmas card is a case in point. It was signed, but never sent.
This card has been preserved by passionate collectors for all posterity.