John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy received Virgin Misericordia religious medal, for the birth of John-John, with impeccable provenance!

John F. Kennedy, Jr. baby gift, Virgin Misericordia religious medal


A religious medal given to the Kennedys after the birth of John, Jr., from the collection of Mary Barelli Gallagher (born 1928), Jacqueline Kennedy's private secretary. The French oval gilt-finished medallion depicts a standing Virgin Misericordia is inscribed "Marie concue sans peche / Priez pour nous qui avons recours a vous" [trans: Mary conceived without sin / Pray for us who have recourse to thee" recto, with an "M", stars, and sacred heart emblems verso. With expected light surface wear, else near fine. Measures .5" x .75". Accompanied by a photocopy of a provenance document signed by Mary Barelli Gallagher on March 16, 2015.


As Gallagher explains, "This baby gift is one of the many gifts that had arrived daily to the home of President-Elect and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, 3307 N St., N.W., Georgetown, Washington, D.C. on the occasion of John Jr.'s birth, November 25, 1960. Mrs. Kennedy would ask that I prepare a letter of thanks to the sender for her to sign, and this is one of the gifts that she offered me to take home. I donated the vast majority of these gifts to various charities, others I gave away to friends, relatives, etc., keeping the more interesting ones, such as this, for myself…"


Since John F. Kennedy, Jr. was the first baby ever born to an incoming elected president, John-John's firsts were monitored with universal interest. The Kennedys received thousands of gifts from around the world, ranging from booties knitted by Kennedy supporters watching televised election debates, to Catholic devotional gifts like this religious medal. Three presidential staffers worked full-time cataloging baby gifts, and as we know, Jackie needed a secretary to prepare all of her thank you notes!


Mary Barelli Gallagher served as secretary to then Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy between 1953-1956, and as private secretary to Jackie Kennedy between 1956-1964. During her time working for the Kennedys, Gallagher collected notes, photos, and mementoes, and even inherited some of Jackie's clothing and pets. Some of Gallagher's recollections are shared in her 1969 My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy.


Provenance: Ex-Bonhams March 9, 2017 sale; Ex-Mary Barelli Gallagher





Item: 64386

Price: $950.00
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John F. Kennedy
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