Today’s highly anticipated release of the JFK files — the previously classified documents regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 — are sure to be a holiday of sorts for conspiracy theorists and are sure to pique the curiosity of history buffs and presidential-minded people.
But the life of the 35th president has prompted plenty of cardboard appearances over the years, too, far beyond just the tragedy of that November day in Dallas, Texas.
There are hundreds of card appearances for Kennedy among political, historic and non-sports card sets from the past and even more in sports sets from recent years. Some, such as one of his 30-plus cut autograph cards, are in big demand and are very, very pricey, while others aren’t necessarily easy finds but won’t break the bank when you do land them. You can easily collect JFK in a number of ways and here’s a very brief primer.
The earliest JFK cut autograph was in 2003 SP Legendary Cuts (above), while he had other appearances that brand as well as Topps baseball (2004, 2005 and 2008), the just-released 2017 Donruss Certified Cuts NFL set from Panini America and then cards in 2009 Topps American Heritage, 2006 Topps Sterling, 2008 Topps Triple Threads, 2010 Topps Tribute and 2009 Upper Deck Prominent Cuts among others.
One of those cut autos paired his autograph with ink from Marilyn Monroe (see gallery below) while Leaf Trading Cards made a cut auto booklet with JFK ink alongside an autograph from Lee Harvey Oswald as well as a piece of leather seat from the limousine from that day. (Click the image above for a closer look.) That somewhat controversial card was estimated by Heritage Auctions to sell for as much as $25,000 back in 2013.
Memorabilia cards can be found, too, for many in and around Kennedy’s life with relics of JFK himself actually almost as rare as his cut autos. His earliest came from Topps, a 2001 Topps American Pie card with dust from the Berlin Wall embedded into it. The first personally worn Relics, though, arrived in the landmark 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball set that helped open the floodgates a bit more for Americana hit inclusions in sports sets due to its popularity. (That card? A piece of a sweater worn by JFK — and many other Topps cards used the rest of it.) Ginter also has included DNA Relics — pieces of hair placed into cards — for JFK as well as Jacqueline Kennedy in past years (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). You can also find her Relics in many of Panini’s Americana releases, while 2014 Golden Age even included memorabilia cards for Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald. An interesting recent arrival is the Pieces of the Past relics where full documents signed by politicians or other notables in American history are cut up for cards just like jerseys. JFK has an appearance there — check out the gallery.
As for standard cards, other memorabilia cards or manufactured relics, there are many options back to 64-card and 77-card JFK sets made by Rosan and Topps in 1963 and 1964, countless presidential first pitch appearances in baseball sets, cards in the wave of Decision 2016 sets focusing on modern politics with nods to the past released last year and then cards in brands such as American Heritage, American Pie, Topps Heritage, Topps Tribute, Topps Archives, TRISTAR Obak (JFK football cards!) and so many more. You can even find Kennedy half-dollar Relics in a set focusing on him in 2012 Topps Heritage.
Even the mysterious Babushka Lady — an unknown woman seen in news photos (and the Zapruder Film) watching the motorcade during JFK’s assassination — has a card appearance in the 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter World’s Most Mysterious Figures insert set. That right there shows you the scope of what can be found on cards with Kennedy and all the history surrounding that day. There’s even a 2011 Topps American Pie Relic that includes dirt from the grassy knoll in Dallas (up top) because of all the history that collectors seem to appreciate.
Beyond cards — a topic that’s already wide in scope — JFK appears on thousands of other items such as magazines, newspapers, books, presidential memorabilia and so much more that can be collected. Since we’re sports-focused first here on The Buzz, perhaps his Sports Illustrated cover appearance from Dec. 26, 1960, is an option to start with. (If not, well, you have plenty more to choose from.)
No matter what the JFK files include — who knows, there could be more names inside that could suddenly draw in the interest of history-minded collectors — there’s already a rich history that can be found in packs of cards. It just takes some looking.
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