• Dining Room

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Object of the Month

A porcelain jewel box with a fake Sevres manufacturer's mark on the bottom.
This porcelain jewel box is one of the many Kennedy family items that Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy chose to place in the Beals Street home when it was turned into a memorial to her son, President John F. Kennedy. Made of porcelain with brass hinges and clasp, and decorated on its sides with green and gold floral motifs, ribbons, and scrollwork, it also features an image of a crossed quiver of arrows and a torch – symbols emblematic of the gods Cupid and Hymen, respectively. On the slightly domed lid is painted a full color image of a woman looking at her reflection in a mirror held by Cupid.


One of the more interesting aspects of this piece is the marks on the bottom. There are two; one being a letter "S" surrounded by a pair of flowing "L"s arranged facing each other in a mirror-image arrangement. The other is a circle with a serried outer edge, surmounted with a crown and having the words "CHATEAU DES TUILERIES" in the center. Based on the marks, a casual observer might conclude that the piece is French porcelain made by the famous factory at Sevres in the 18th century. The Sevres factory used the double "L" symbol as their mark, and the letter inside, in this case an "S" (pictured in the lower right portion of the image above) corresponds to the year 1771. A closer examination reveals that this is not a genuine Sevres piece from the 1700s. The Sevres mark is one of the most commonly forged marks found on porcelain. The form, style, and execution of this box make it almost certainly a late 19th or early 20th century piece, possibly obtained by Rose F. Kennedy when she was a young woman.

Whether or not the Kennedy family regarded the box as a genuine 18th century Sevres piece is unknown. What is more pertinent to the birthplace though is the fact that the box belonged to the Kennedys, and Rose Kennedy chose it as an appropriate piece with which to furnish the house in which the President was born.

 

Did You Know?

John Fitzgerald Kennedy as a young boy.

According to his mother, Jack Kennedy was the “problem child”, forgetful and “invariably late” for meals. Sloppy at home & lazy at school, Jack overcame his problems with spelling & grammar to win the 1957 Pulitzer Prize with his “Profiles in Courage” and the presidential election 3 years later.