President Theodore Roosevelt’s knife, passed down through the Roosevelt family for the past 107 years and never before available for sale to the public, will be put to auction Sept. 9-11 by Rock Island Auction Co.
Made by J. Russell & Co. of Green River, New York, the Roosevelt knife features handle work by Dreicer & Co. (1904-1923), the latter a leading jewelry retailer of the time and a competitor of such top companies as Faberge. Said to have originally cost $1,250—$33,216 in 2016 dollars—the Roosevelt knife is predicted by Rock Island Auction Co. to bring between $150,000 and $300,000 at auction.
According to public documents, James W. Gerard of the “supreme bench of New York City” and later ambassador to Germany, presented the knife to Roosevelt on March 3, 1909—Roosevelt’s last full day as president. It was a gift Gerard intended for Roosevelt to use on an upcoming African hunting trip. A March 10 story in the local Rock Island newspaper carried the headline “Fine Knife For Roosevelt.” It described Gerard as a close friend of Roosevelt and the knife as a “masterpiece of jeweler’s workmanship, the hilt being wrought in gold and platinum and ornamented with jewels. The [pommel] is carved in the shape of an eagle’s head of solid gold. The eagle’s eyes are garnets.
“On one side of the hilt beneath the eagle’s head is depicted a forest scene, with two [men] behind a birch tree, one of them standing, rifle in hand, the other crouching. The tree is done in gold upon a platinum background. On the reverse side is set the arms of the United States, surmounting a wishbone and intertwining tree boughs in gold. Below is the monogram ‘T.R.’ The background on this side is also of platinum. Two bears’ heads extending out from the handle form the guard at the base of the blade,” which is engraved “Presented to Theodore Roosevelt by His Friend, James W. Gerard.”
For more on the auction of the Roosevelt knife, contact Rock Island Auction Co. at www.rockislandauction.com.