John F. Kennedy PT-109 tie clip, Washington, D.C., 1960

This bronze tie clip was modeled after PT-109, the boat that young Lieutenant John F. Kennedy skippered in the South Pacific during the Second World War. When a Japanese destroyer rammed the boat, Kennedy acted to save his crew. The dramatic story of the rescue was widely distributed by Kennedy’s congressional campaign in 1946. PT-109 became a symbol of perseverance and courage.
During Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, a flood of PT boat souvenirs appeared, from plastic bathtub toys to pin-back buttons, including the candidate’s own PT-109 tie clip. After Kennedy’s death in 1963, his longtime secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, gave this bronze tie clip to Smithsonian curator Herbert R. Collins from a supply she kept for herself. Lincoln told him that a supply of bronze clips had been produced for Kennedy to give away as souvenirs. Five were modeled in gold for him to wear. Despite the cautions of his staff to not distribute the gold ones, he gave them away with the bronze ones.
Gift of Mrs. Evelyn N. Lincoln, 1964
date made
ca 1960
associated person
Kennedy, John F.
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Evelyn N. Lincoln
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
Souvenir Nation
Government, Politics, and Reform
Souvenir Nation
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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