An email conversation with a fellow collector recent alighted upon the topic of "The Assassination of President Kennedy", the folder (not book) of essays and pictures about the assasination of the US president compiled and designed by Michael Rand, Howard Loxton and Len Deighton.
The conversation was prompted by seeing an eBay listing for a pristine, signed copy of the Jackdaw Folder, valued at over £1,000! The price perhaps reflects that it's signed by the author, but even so, it's pretty steep. As a collector I've been tempted many times to pay over the odds for a rare Deighton, but that took my breath away. I fear the seller may have to temper their outlook.
Nevertheless, it prompted me to take my copy off the shelf, and look at it again, something I haven't done for a number of years in point of fact. And, to consider its value as a 'book', a collectable item, and its place within the wider canon of Deighton books.
It's one of the favourite items I own with a Deighton collection, for many reasons. It's format is unusual, and well designed. It's an interesting subject matter. It's rare, which is always a draw for a collector. And, perhaps, given the subject material, it's an even-handed attempt to address the most controversial of topics for which there are a thousands of books all telling a different angle on the story.
If you've only read Deighton's novels, you may not be aware of this unusual entry in his catalogue. Let's explore it further.
What is it?
This item is certainly an outlier in Deighton's catalogue. For a start, it's not a book. It's a folder, containing a number of loose-leaf items pertaining to the 1963 assassination, thematically presented to provide the reader with the basic information about the case and an insight into the discussion around it. These are:
- A scale model in card paper of Deeley Plaza, which the reader can build to better understand the mise en scene of the assassination
- A facsimile of an anti-Kennedy poster circulated in Dallas
- A photograph of the assassination
- A summary of the autopsy report included in the Warren Commission
- Illustrations of the President's wounds
- The FBI report on the autopsy
- A descriptive sheet of the autopsy
- A photo of the President's bloodied shirt
- Jackie Kennedy's official testimony to the Warren Commission
- Warren Commission document 767
- An advertisement for the rifle used by the assassin
- A reproduced of the alleged weapon
- A list of questions raised by the evidence
- Five broadsheet essays covering the different aspects of the case.
However, it's not by any means a source of information for conspiracy nuts. It's a reasoned, well put-together and interesting alternative to a dense book, for someone coming to the subject first time, such as school children.