Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    John F. Kennedy: Perhaps the Only Existing Kennedy Rocking Chair with Ironclad Authentication from the Kennedy Family! JFK's chronic back problems have become the stuff of legends, as have his trademark rocking chairs. In 1954, Kennedy consulted a New York doctor, Janet Trevell, who as it happened, also suffered from back pain. She introduced JFK to the sort of stiff-backed rocker which she found gave her relief, and Kennedy was so impressed he immediately ordered one for himself. Over the years Kennedy would use approximately fourteen such chairs, making sure that one was available anywhere where he spent a considerable amount of time.

    This remarkable example was presented to longtime family cook Nellie McGrail (1911-1995) upon her retirement in 1994. A native of Palm Beach, Florida, Nellie cooked for the family for some twenty years when they visited their Florida home. She was Rose Kennedy's personal cook until 1984, when JFK's mother suffered a debilitating stroke and was no longer able to travel there. However, Nellie was so beloved by the Kennedy family that she was flown by them to Hyannis Port every year to celebrate Rose's birthday, and on other occasions when her culinary skills were needed. She was particularly appreciated for her baked goods, and so was often called upon when a birthday cake was in order. Nellie was also particularly close to Edward M. Kennedy and his family.

    Upon her retirement, the entire Kennedy family wanted to give her a special gift of thanks for her years of service. They chose this classic rocking chair, which quite possibly is the one Kennedy kept for his use when in Palm Beach. There is no surviving documentation as to the precise history of this particular chair, but the Kennedy family had affixed a brass plaque declaring it to be the late President's own chair and presented it to Nellie. Most importantly, the chair is now accompanied by a 2000 letter from Edward Kennedy, confirming that the chair was actually used by JFK and that it was gifted to Nellie McGrail upon her 1994 retirement. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only Kennedy rocker ever authenticated by the family. It measures 33.25" x 43.5" x 28", and is in excellent condition for use or display.

    Also included with this lot are various supporting materials:
    (1) A 1970 color snapshot of McGrail with Edward and Rose Kennedy
    (2) A 1973 note to McGrail from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, expressing her regret that she would be traveling in Europe a great deal that year with Mr. Onassis, and would be unable to enjoy Nellie's cooking.
    (3) A JFK memorial prayer card, inscribed and signed to Nellie from Rose Kennedy.
    (4) Nellie's invitation to Caroline Kennedy's wedding to Edwin Schlossberg.
    (5) A charming thank you card from Ethel Kennedy signed with xxx & ooo.
    (6) A handwritten 1974 letter to Nellie from Joan Kennedy, hoping that she will enjoy attending a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and inviting her to join Senator Kennedy and herself for dinner beforehand.
    (7) A very personal 1983 letter from Sargent Shriver, thanking Nellie for the extraordinary care and attention she gave to Shriver's mother-in-law, Rose Kennedy
    (8) A letter from John Kerry thanking Nellie for her great care and wonderful cooking upon Kerry's visit to the Kennedys' in Palm Beach.
    (9) A circa 1960s color snapshot of Nellie with Rose Kennedy's birthday cake (which she undoubtedly baked), which had a picture of Rose on the top done in edible coloration.
    (10) A 1974 thank-you note in praise of Nellie's cooking from Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
    (11) A remarkable 11" x 14" inch black-and-white photo of Nellie standing behind Edward Kennedy Jr., who is sitting at the table enjoying his birthday cake (again, undoubtedly baked by Nellie), while a beaming Joan Kennedy looks on in the background, and signed and inscribed by Teddy Jr.: "To Nellie, Thanks a lot! Teddy K."
    (12) A 1995 obituary from the Palm Beach Post, detailing McGrail's relationship with the Kennedy family.

    A very special opportunity for the serious collector of JFK relics.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    17th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,804

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 September 14 - 15 Americana & Political.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage has gone above and beyond my expectations in handling all of my transactions in a thoroughly professional manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone worldwide for the exemplary auction and valuation services they provide.
    Richard H.,
    Corsicana, TX
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,022,424