Posted by: Idioma Extra | December 14, 2010

The Weird and the Wonderful

Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin goes on auction block

Bidding starts at $1,000 for accused JFK assassin’s pine casket


Presidential memorabilia collectors: Another piece of history has been dug up for your collection, but this one is a macabre memento.

The original coffin in which suspected Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was buried will go on the block on Dec. 16, with bids starting at $1,000. Auction officials anticipate it will sell for much higher.

“A lot of people have been calling me off the hook, saying they intend to bid on it,” Nate Sanders, founder of California-based Nate D. Sanders auction house, told

Oswald was arrested about an hour after President Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. He himself was shot two days later, and was never brought to trial.

Oswald was buried in the casket until 1981, when a legal dispute between his widow and brother led to an exhumation.

“We got a call from the funeral home that this was a coffin that Mr. Oswald’s brother had disposed of after Lee Harvey was exhumed. I never expected that call, but I got it,” Sanders said. His auction house is one of the best-known for JFK assassination memorabilia and other historical collectibles, he said.

The Los Angeles auction will also include embalming instruments that were used on Oswald, among other items.

“We have his first death certificate,” Sanders said. “I don’t think it’s ever been seen. It’s handwritten, whereas the death certificate that’s legendary is typed. We have the table that Oswald’s body was on. We have the funeral register. We have anything that came with that day in history.”

A section of the seat from the car Kennedy was in when he died will also be auctioned off, the BBC reported.

Conspiracy theories have circulated about who killed Kennedy and why Oswald was shot dead. One theory, that a lookalike Soviet agent stole Oswald’s identity to carry out the assassination, led to Oswald’s 1981 exhumation. Once it was confirmed the body was in fact his, Oswald was buried again in Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park in Fort Worth, Texas, this time in a new casket.

His original coffin had extensive water damage, the auction house’s website said. It will be accompanied by a letter of authenticity by funeral director Allen Baumgardner, who assisted at the original embalming of Lee Harvey Oswald, the site said.

Word of the day

Pronunciation: \ˌme-mə-rə-ˈbi-lē-ə, -ˈbē-lē-ə, -ˈbil-yə\
Origin: Latin, from neuter plural of memorabilis
First Known Use: 1785
Noun Plural
1: things that are remarkable and worthy of remembrance
2: things that stir recollection or are valued or collected for their association with a particular field or interest : mementos <baseball memorabilia>

More Vocabulary

Casket: n. a usually fancy coffin
Conspiracy: n.
a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal
Exhume: v.
to remove (a body) from the place where it is buried 
Look-alike: n.
one that looks like another: double
Macabre: adj.
involving death or violence in a way that is strange, frightening, or unpleasant
Memento: n.
something that serves to warn or remind; also souvenir

Idioms & Phrases

Off the hook: To express such demand or activity that it is beyond normal conditions

  • Due to the fantastic response from customers on the new project, the phones are ringing off the hook.

Love those Phrasal Verbs

Dig up: to discover in the course of digging

  • What a surprise I got, when I dug up an old box in the garden. It was full of old trinkets from my childhood.

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