NEW YORK -- Some important pieces of White House history will be auctioned off Friday in Atlanta. They were collected by a longtime employee, who literally saved many of them from the trash pile. He collected everything, from presidential cufflinks to rocking chairs.
At Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery in Atlanta, John Lloyd is selling his grandfather’s hand-me-downs.
Given the hands they originally came from, there’s plenty of interest. Lloyd said, “When you work at any place in the world even, you’re bound to get things after a while when people come through. Well, my grandfather’s happened to be presidential things.”
Lloyd’s grandfather, Bonner Arrington, was a carpenter at the White House for 33 years, employed during Harry Truman’s administration through to Ronald Reagan’s, collecting memorabilia that now offers a three-dimensional timeline of America’s presidents, from Truman’s lighter to John F. Kennedy Jr.’s monogrammed baby pin.
He even found a burnt wooden post from 1814, when the British set fire to the White House, which Arrington found at work during the Truman reconstruction.
He also helped with the Kennedy renovation, and collected items from the first lady herself, including a handwritten thank-you note after the death of her son Patrick.
Lloyd said, “They’re real people and they have real lives and a lot of this collection demonstrates that fact, too.”
Ted Tzavaras, owner of Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery, said, “I’m sure when he was collecting them, he just never thought they’d be of a great big value, but today, we’re reliving part of history.”
One thousand items that Arrington saved will be auctioned off. Starting bids range from $25 to $12,000. And just like presidential life, the collection is bittersweet, with wedding and inauguration announcements next to memories of an assassination and a funeral.
Lloyd said, “When I dug down to the bottom of the box, I found that presidential limousine packet, it really made me shutter. The limousine that President Kennedy was assassinated in, and the actual packet that is touting the safety features of this new vehicle. It’s like, had those been used, we might still have had President Kennedy around today.”
Lloyd - who is expecting his first child in May - says the profits will go toward the next generation of his family. He’s hoping buyers want a piece of history, from his grandfather—and from his country.