BrianRxm Coin Stories 3/15
John F. Kennedy "Good Luck" Gold Coin
Clare Boothe Luce gift to World War II Navy Officer
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The Story:
Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was one of the glamorous women of the 1930's and 1940's.
She was in the news a lot during that period and right up to her death.
In September 1942 Clare Boothe Luce gave a "gold coin" to US Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy just before
he shipped out to the Pacific war zone. The coin was meant to be a "good luck" coin and had belonged
to Clare's mother.
Clare was an extremely attractive blonde lady. She was a minor film actress, then married and divorced
a wealthy playboy named Brokaw. She wrote the hit play "The Women" and several film scripts.
She then married Henry Luce, the founder of Time and Life Magazines. During World War II, she was a
war correspondent and a Republican Member of Congress. In the early 1950's she was the US Ambassador
to Italy, and later became a conservative Republican.
Clare had a daughter, Ann Brokaw, from her first marriage. Ann died in an automobile accident in Palo Alto,
California in June of 1944. Clare then converted to the Roman Catholic religion and paid to have a church,
St. Ann's, built in Palo Alto.
She would make a good subject for a television "mini-series".
There are at least three biographies written about her:
Henry & Clare: An Intimate Portrait of the Luces by Ralph G. Martin (1991).
Rage for Fame (1997) and Price of Fame (2014) both by Sylvia Jukes Morris.
None of these books mentions the coin.
Clare knew Joseph Kennedy, John's wealthy father, and was supposedly one of his girlfriends.
John Kennedy, a polite lad, wrote Clare a thank you note and added that he would wear the coin with his
military identification "dog tags". In his letter he called the coin a "St. Claire medal" and stated
the he would wear it rather than the standard Roman Catholic St. Christopher medal.
Kennedy's four-page letter is on many websites, including one for the US Library of Congress.
Clare must have made an impression on young John for him to wear her coin.
After his August 1943 PT-109 boat accident, he sent another letter to Clare with a "Japanese bullet"
and told her, "With it goes my sincere thanks for your good-luck piece, which did service above and
beyond its routine duties during a rather busy period".
Kennedy gave the coin to Eroni Kumana, a Solomon Islands native who helped rescue him and his crew.
Supposedly Eroni still had the coin in 1963.
Eroni Kumana, still living in the Solomon Islands, died on August 2, 2014 at age 93.
The Clare Boothe Luce gold coin is mentioned in the 1992 book JFK: Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamilton
along with it being given to Eroni.
There is no description of the coin in the Kennedy thank-you letters or any of the several Luce and
Kennedy biographies.
It would almost certainly be a US coin as the letter would have mentioned a foreign coin.
There is a public domain US Navy photograph of John Kennedy in his PT boat which is on several
internet websites, including the one for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.
John Kennedy PT-109
1. Lt. John F. Kennedy on PT-109 in 1943
In this picture Kennedy appears to be wearing something round on a chain around his neck.
If this is the coin it appears from the size to be a United States $20 gold coin mounted in a bezel ring.
The coin had belonged to Clare's mother Anna Clara Snyder who died in 1938.
United States $20 gold coins were made from 1849 to 1933 so the mother could have owned one of any date.
The coin is probably a St. Gaudens $20 gold coin, made from 1907 to 1933, as it is considered more
attractive than the previous Liberty design and attractiveness was important to both Clare and her mother.
The coin could have possibly looked like this:
United States dollar 20 1927
2. United States gold $20 1927
The coin is probably still with Eroni Kumana's family.
And this just in (January 10, 2017):
Solomon Islands strikes JFK commemorative $1 Coin
By Solomon Times / Pasifik - January 10, 2017
Solomon Islands dollar 2017
3. Solomon Islands silver dollar 2017 - John F. Kennedy
Bullion Exchanges and the Royal Australian Mint have announced an exclusive 1 oz. Silver JFK
Commemorative $1 coin honouring the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
(1917-1963) – the 35th President of the United States.
The design of the coin pays tribute to the act of endurance, heroism and leadership shown by
Lieutenant John F. Kennedy in 1943 during WWII in the Pacific, specifically the Solomon Islands.
The Royal Mint says there are several bullion features which make the John F. Kennedy JFK
Solomon Islands $1 Coin a highly desired collectible coin on the marketplace.
This $1 coin is legal tender of the Solomon Islands.
"This remarkable silver coin is made of the purest .999 silver with a frosted finish,
has a limited mintage of 15,000 pieces, a denomination of $1 dollar and an impressive coin
diameter of 40.00 mm, allowing every detail of the coin to look stunning", said the spokesman.
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