Franklin D. Roosevelt Signed 1936 Shellback Certificate – Fantastic & Rare FDR Item


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32nd President.  Colorful partly-printed document signed (DS) “Franklin D. Roosevelt” AS PRESIDENT, 21 x 15, November 24, 1936. A Shellback certificate issued to “J.B. White,B.M.2 c, U.S.N”, and reads, in part: “To all sailors wherever ye may be, and to all Mermaids, Whales, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Dolphins, Eels, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea, Greetings. Know ye that on this Twenty-fourth day of November, 1936 in Latitude 0000 and Longitude 37° -00 W. there appeared within Our Royal Domain the U. S. S. Indianapolis bound South for the Equator and for Rio de Janeiro, the Inter-American conference at Buenos Aires, and for Montevideo with the President of the United States embarked…Be it remembered…J.B. White…having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks has been duly initiated into the Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of Deep.” Signed by “Davey Jones” and “Neptunus Rex” in type and in fountain pen by Roosevelt just below the Navy Department seal.

Presented in vintage frame to same size.  In apparent fine condition, with some scattered light soiling and wrinkling. The bright gold foil seal is intact and retains its red, white, and blue ribbon. This US Navy Department document is extremely attractive with vivid colors, detailed engravings, fanciful language and a clear, dark and well preserved signature.

Roosevelt boarded the USS Indianapolis—his personal “Ship of State”—on November 18, 1936, for a “Good Neighbor Tour” cruise to South America, including the Pan American Conference in Buenos Aires. The trip marked the first time that a sitting president had visited outside North America. It was the third crossing of the equator for the ship, and as was tradition, “Father Neptune” initiated neophyte pollywogs into hardened shellbacks. Those lucky initiates, like White, received their shellback certificates signed by FDR. Nine years later, the USS Indianapolis served as the delivery vessel for the world’s first atomic bomb. After its drop-off, the heavy cruiser was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Most of the nearly 1,200 personnel on-board were able to abandon ship, where the shark-infested waters left just 317 survivors once rescuers finally arrived five days later. An extremely displayable document, among the first ever of such Shellbacks signed by a sitting president.