"PRIME COLLECTOR'S ITEMS… NEARLY ALL OF THEM WERE DISTRIBUTED EXCLUSIVELY TO CLOSE FRIENDS OF THE FAMILY": FDR'S CHRISTMAS BOOK FOR 1939, INSCRIBED BY HIM TO JAMES ROOSEVELT, HIS OLDEST SON
ROOSEVELT, Franklin D. Proceedings at the Ceremony in Commemoration of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Commencement of the First Congress of the United States under the Constitution. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1939. Slim octavo, original black morocco gilt, navy silk pastedowns; Housed in a custom clamshell box. $32,000.
Limited edition, one of an unknown number of copies of President Roosevelt Christmas Book for 1939, inscribed by FDR for presentation to close friends and family, here inscribed to his eldest son, James: "James from FDR 1939."
This slim volume prints the proceedings of March 4, 1939 at a Joint Session of Congress to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the start of the First Congress, featuring a number of prayers and speeches, including one by Roosevelt. Roosevelt had it specially bound up to present to close family and friends as a Christmas gift, a tradition he began in 1935 and continued throughout his presidency. Especially "difficult to obtain today… FDR's Christmas Books are prime collector's items… nearly all of them were distributed exclusively to close friends of the family" (Halter, 194); the few copies of this particular Christmas Book to appear on the market in recent decades were all presented to his immediate family. This copy was inscribed to his eldest child, James Roosevelt. In 1939 James was working in Hollywood for Samuel Goldwyn; later in the year he would enlist in the Marines, serving in World War II and earning a Navy Cross for service during the Makin Island Raid in 1942. After the war, he returned to California and was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1954, where he would serve until resigning in 1965. See Halter T796. With "From the library of James Roosevelt" written in ink on the rear free endpaper.
Interior fine, expert reinforcement to text block, light wear to spine of custom morocco binding.