Watch given to Eleanor Roosevelt by FDR on RR Auction Block
Watches have always been the perfect gift for graduation ceremonies, birthdays, anniversaries and more. In my house alone, there are several timepieces with engraved bottoms celebrating important occasions in our lives, and each one is a precious heirloom.
On a more publicized note, RR auction offers a timepiece belonging to Eleanor Roosevelt, offered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his 53rd anniversary in 1937. While this was certainly a personal and treasured event in their life at the time, the watch can now be appreciated for its larger context in history. But in addition to its interesting provenance, Tiffany & Co. branding and Movado heritage, it also features a double engraving on the caseback, which indicates two generations within the family.
The engraving reads: “ER from FDR, October 11, 1937”, with a subsequent engraving evident above and below the reading, “CR from ER, Christmas, 1950”. The former designates the watch’s role as a birthday present for Eleanor, while subsequent scoring reveals that Eleanor then gave the watch to the couple’s eldest grandson, Curtis Roosevelt, for Christmas in 1950. In addition of a long career in the public service, Curtis is known for his book Too close to the sun: growing up in the shade of my grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor, which was released in 2008.
The round stainless steel watch with stainless steel link bracelet, circa 1930, measures 23mm in diameter, designed for a woman’s wrist, while the sand-colored dial features golden Arabic numerals and indexes, blued hands and a seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Inside, a 15-jewel Swiss mechanical movement turns things around. The engraving on the solid caseback is in block letters.
A pewter desk set made in Vall-Kill is also up for auction of beautiful autographs and artifacts featuring pop culture, and it’s an example of those offered to White House staff by President Roosevelt for Christmas. . The set includes a letter holder with a small portrait medallion of FDR and marked “Val-Kill” on the bottom, a notepad holder adorned with the same medallion and also marked Val-Kill, and a smaller envelope holder with a presidential seal medallion on the front. A letter opener with a presidential seal medallion is included.
Interestingly, Ms. Roosevelt co-founded Val-Kill Industries in 1927 with her friends Nancy Cook, Marion Dickerman, and Caroline O’Day at the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, New York. Their intention was to create heirloom quality items, including furniture, pewter, and home-made fabrics, using traditional craft methods. The company’s goals also included a broader social goal of providing additional income to local farming families and creating a balance between agriculture and industry in the region. Its metallurgical forge was not established until 1934, and the partnership was dissolved six years later, in 1940. The Roosevelts ordered gifts from the Forge in its heyday, including desk accessories and key chains. .
An example of a desktop magnifying glass offered to White House staff by President Roosevelt as a Christmas present is on sale at auction. It features a mahogany colored leatherette upholstery embossed in gold with the inscription “Noël 1943, de FDR”
The auction of beautiful autographs and artifacts featuring pop culture at RR Auction in Massachusetts will end on March 4. More details can be found here.