Photo Credit: Jason Wickersty, National Park Service

Time Regained In Florida: Theodore Roosevelt’s Pocket Watch Returns Home After Decades

Photo Credit: Jason Wickersty, National Park Service
Photo Credit: Jason Wickersty, National Park Service

For nearly 40 years, a piece of American history was lost. Theodore Roosevelt’s cherished pocket watch, a constant companion during his adventures and presidency, vanished from a Buffalo museum in 1987.

Now, thanks to a sharp-eyed auctioneer and relentless investigators, the timepiece is finally back at its rightful home.

The silver pocket watch, a gift from Roosevelt’s family in 1898, ticked alongside him during pivotal moments. It likely witnessed the charge up San Juan Hill, the exploration of the Amazon, and countless decisions that shaped the nation. Its disappearance left a void at Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt’s Long Island home, now a National Historic Site.

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The story took a turn in 2023 when a Florida auctioneer spotted the watch. Recognizing its potential significance, he contacted the National Park Service.

A meticulous investigation led by the FBI’s Art Crime Team confirmed the watch’s authenticity. The inscription, including Roosevelt’s nickname “Teddy” and the initials of his family members, solidified its identity.

On June 27, 2024, a special ceremony marked the watch’s return to Sagamore Hill. Representatives from the National Park Service and FBI gathered to celebrate the successful recovery. The watch is now on display at the Old Orchard Museum, part of Sagamore Hill, where visitors can once again connect with this tangible piece of Roosevelt’s legacy.

“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.

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The recovered pocket watch serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring significance of preserving history.

It’s a testament to the tireless efforts of law enforcement and the vigilance of those who recognize the value of bygone eras. As the watch ticks on in its rightful place, it whispers tales of a remarkable president and the enduring spirit of American history.

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