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Theodore Roosevelt's Historic Pocket Watch Found

Updated: Jul 8


Roosevelt’s watch had been under the care of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site since his passing in 1919. In 1971, they lent the watch to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site for a six-year period to be displayed in an exhibition. Despite the loan being extended, the watch was unfortunately reported stolen from the site in Buffalo, New York, on July 21, 1987, and would not resurface until 2023 at a Florida auction house.

The Florida auctioneer stumbled upon a potential treasure when tasked with auctioning a pocket watch dating back to the late 1800s. His investigation hinted at a fascinating connection to U.S. presidential history, specifically Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. After reaching out to Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, both sites verified the watch's authenticity.


Roosevelt’s watch had been under the care of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site since his passing in 1919. In 1971, they lent the watch to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site for a six-year period to be displayed in an exhibition. Despite the loan being extended, the watch was unfortunately reported stolen from the site in Buffalo, New York, on July 21, 1987, and would not resurface until 2023 at a Florida auction house.


Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site are both under the National Park Service's jurisdiction. They sought help from the NPS to retrieve the stolen artifact. The NPS, as the main investigative agency, reached out to the FBI Art Crime team for extra support. Both the NPS and FBI verified that the recovered watch was the one stolen nearly 40 years ago.


"This watch was a fairly pedestrian Waltham 17 jewel watch with an inexpensive coin silver case. It's a 'Riverside' grade and model '1888' with a hunter-style case, meaning it has a lid on either side which fold and encase the dial and the movement," said Special Agent Robert Giczy, a member of the FBI Art Crime Team who investigated the provenance of the watch in this case.


Throughout his life, Roosevelt owned numerous pocket watches, but this particular one holds special significance. It was a gift from his youngest sister, Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, and his brother-in-law, Douglas Robinson, Jr., before he left for Cuba during the Spanish-American War. The inscription, bearing the initials of Corinne and Douglas, reads: "THEODORE ROOSEVELT FROM D.R. & C.R.R.".




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