Although John F. Kennedy's presidency ended in tragedy, last week's auction at Bonhams in New York featuring a number of intimate photographs proved that collectors are equally interested in the lighter side of his life.
The sale of photographs taken during the Kennedy era by Chief White House photographer Cecil Stoughton saw images that captured an entire range of emotions: from a picture of the President playing with his children in the Oval Office, to the moment Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in beside a visible shaken Jackie Kennedy, just hours after her husband had been assassinated.
Both these photos were two of the top lots in the sale which offered a window into an iconic life. The highest selling single image was "Kennedy Children in the White House" from 1963.
Described as "one of the most joyous of the Stoughton White House photographs", the image features John Junior and Caroline Kennedy dancing round the Oval Office as their father claps them on.
The photograph, signed "For Captain Stoughton--who captured beautifully a happy moment at the White House / John F. Kennedy", was one of Stoughton's personal favourites from his time with the Kennedys and proved equally popular with collectors as it sold for $18,300, far beyond its pre-sale estimate of $7,000 - $9,000.
The image of Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One, possibly Stoughton's most famous photograph, was signed by the incoming President "To Cecil Stoughton / with high regard and appreciation / Lyndon B. Johnson."
Alongside Johnson is a grieving Jackie Kennedy, still wearing the blood-stained dress she had worn as she cradled her dying husband. It captures one of the most vivid moments in American political history, and its importance was made clear when it sold for $13,420.
Kennedy's mystique and position as a liberal icon has meant that, despite recent re-evaluations of his Presidency, his legacy has remained strong and for collectors he is more popular than ever.
Over the last 10 years the value of his signature has risen by 272.7% (according to the industry's PFC40 Autograph Index), and although items such as this signed letter are available for as little as £2,950 the rare and sought-after nature of Kennedy memorabilia means sales such as Bonhams' most recent auction always see fierce competition from collectors and investors alike.
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