Ike Skelton Auction Items Illustrate the Softer Side of Public Service
The Kansas City Auction and Appraisal Company has cataloged a treasure trove of personal effects and private letters the late Rep. Ike Skelton amassed throughout his career and has made them all available to interested buyers through June 30.
The Missouri Democrat, who spent more than 30 years in the House and served two terms as House Armed Services Committee chairman, died of pneumonia in late 2013.
Kansas City Auction owner Jason Roske told HOH his team spent months sorting through the myriad congressional correspondence and politically-related knick-knacks supplied by the estate in order to curate the 356 lots that compromise the “Ike Skelton Collection.”
“There were well over 1,000 documents that we had to go through, piece by piece,” he said of the carefully picked over political ephemera.
The assembled offerings run the gamut from breezy collegial how-do-you-dos — including exchanges with ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.; the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii; and Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., D-Mass. — to White House bill signings reaching back decades.
“As far as we can tell, there just have not been a lot of opportunities to sell a collection like this. Period,” Roske said.
The top five most sought after items currently on the online auction block include:
- A 42-piece set of Nacthmann crystal ($1,000 bid): Roske estimates that assembling such a collection, today, would likely cost more than $5,000.
- Reproductions of President Harry S. Truman-related memorabilia ($550 bid).
- A framed photo of then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with a personalized thank you letter ($401 bid): “It’s a really feel-good piece,” Roske said.
- A pair of thank you notes penned by Truman ($300 bid).
- A birthday greeting from President Barack Obama ($250 bid).
Roske said he is most intrigued by a photo of Skelton caught dozing on Air Force One inscribed with a playful note from then-President Jimmy Carter (“I think it’s a wonderful piece of human interaction,” Roske said), as well as a nearly unintelligible missive — complete with explanatory “key” slipped in by an anonymous aide — straight from the famously messy desk of retired Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.
Too wonky for your tastes?
Perhaps perusing random snapshots of Skelton hanging out with college pals and “One Day at a Time” star Bonnie Franklin might be more palatable.
Either way, there’s something for everyone.