Tifton Gazette

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January 19, 2013

Local man owns Presidential artifact

TIFTON — "One man's trash is another man's treasure," or so the saying goes.

In the mid-1970's Tifton resident John Mallory was visiting a friend in Unadilla, who was liquidating his antique business. The friend frequently bought salvage items from Robins Air Force Base and sorted through them for anything of interest and possible resale value in his antique business. As a long-term antique collector, Mallory was offered the opportunity to sift through a pallet load of the salvage trash from the base.

He found several items of interest, including a heavy glass ashtray, a brass table lamp and a metal valise in fairly good condition. Upon examination, he noted that the valise had a medallion attached to the front near the opening. Looking closely at the medallion, he was surprised to see that it portrayed the Presidential Seal in the center with the words "THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SEAL" in raised letters around the edge. Impressed with his "find," Mallory, a draftsman by trade, decided to use the valise for his drafting work, and continued to do so until he retired in the mid-1980's.

After retirement, Mallory's curiosity prompted him to pry off the Presidential Seal medallion to see if there was anything on the back side. Around the outer edge he found "37th PRESIDENT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA." In the center was the name "Richard M. Nixon," and below it "Inauguration 1-20-69."

On the inside top part of the valise are printed the words (or code) "WE  NO."

There is no lock on the case, nor is there any indication that there ever was one. There are, however, 11 small holes drilled through the top and a couple more in the front, indicating that something -- possibly a telephone-- had at one time been installed in the valise.

Mallory says that Nixon made at least two trips to Robins Air Force Base during his presidency, because he and his wife had traveled there to see the President. Though not able to get close to him, they nevertheless saw him from a distance.

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