Artifacts

Permanent exhibits are the core of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. They allow visitors to participate in history, not just view it, while reviewing the highlights of the lives of President and Mrs. Ford. In addition to the permanent exhibits, a succession of temporary exhibits draw upon the rich holdings of the entire Presidential libraries system, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, and others. The Museum also offers approximately 19,000 items connected to the Fords. The artifacts focused on August 9, 1974 include the Bible on which Gerald R. Ford placed his hand for the Oath of Office, the dress worn by Mrs. Betty Ford, commemorative coins and medals.

Swearing-In Bible

Gerald R. Ford used this Jerusalem Bible given to him by his son, Mike, for both his Vice Presidential and Presidential swearing-in ceremonies. The Bible features a black cover, white pages with gold leaf trim, and a red ribbon bookmark. The Bible displayed Psalm 19 for the Vice Presidential swearing-in on December 6, 1973, and Proverbs 3, verses 5 and 6 for the Presidential swearing-in on August 9, 1974. This Bible then traveled in a display case on the Freedom Train during the American Bicentennial celebrations in 1976.

Betty Ford’s Dress

Light blue, sleeveless dress with matching jacket owned and worn by Betty Ford. Mrs. Ford wore the dress to the swearing-in ceremony of her husband Gerald R. Ford as President of the United States on August 9, 1974. Frankie Welch designed the ensemble. The jacket features white trim and two front pockets. The dress features long pleating in the skirt, a white belt, and white trim up the center and around the collar.

Oath of Office – Ceremonial Copy

A copy of Gerald R. Ford’s Oath of Office and remarks from the 1974 swearing-in ceremony in the East Room of the White House on August 9, 1974. The plaque features a gold-colored Presidential Seal at the top-center with the oath and remarks under it. A blue border encloses the document and it is set within cream matting behind glass in a wooden frame.

Oath of Office – Signed Copy

The Oath of the Office of the President of the United States taken by Gerald R. Ford, on August 9th, 1974, was overseen by Warren Burger, Chief Justice of the United States, and signed by both men.

Portrait of President and Mrs. Ford

A framed portrait of President Gerald R. Ford and First Lady Betty Ford by Dave Brockman based on a photograph taken following President Ford’s Oath of Office. It is housed in a wooden frame with white painted and textile accents.

Gerald R. Ford’s Vice Presidential and Presidential Remarks

A blue hard cover folder containing transcription of Gerald R. Ford’s Vice Presidential swearing-in address on the left and his Presidential address on the right. The cover of the folder contains a gold-colored Presidential Seal with Gerald R. Ford’s signature below it.

Official Inaugural Plate

A sterling silver inaugural plate, depicting Gerald R. Ford in relief with his name etched beside him. It is contained in a dark blue box with swirled blue sides. The box sports a binding similar to that of a book and features the words “Inauguration / 1974 / Limited/Edition.” The interior of the box is covered in white satin, with silver-colored script reading “The Official / 1974 / Inaugural Plate / Sterling Silver / Limited Edition, Minted by / The Franklin Mint.”

Inaugural Wheaton Decanter

A red glass decanter with Gerald R. Ford’s profile on one side. The other reads in relief, “The Non-elected President” with a quote from Gerald R. Ford below. Mislabeled on decanter as being from his Inaugural Address. Made in Wheaton, New Jersey.

Ford Swearing-In Poem

A sheet of paper with burned edges has been adhered to the front of a wooden plaque. The page features a typed poem by Arthur T. Elfstrom commemorating Gerald R. Ford’s swearing-in as President on August 9, 1974. A United States Seal is adhered to the top of the plaque.

Die Cast for Inaugural Medallion

A round die cast for Gerald R. Ford’s “inauguration.” The obverse shows a portrait of Ford looking to the left and his name in reverse around the top. The reverse is blank.

Plaster Cast for Inaugural Medals

A plaster cast of a medal for Gerald R. Ford’s “inauguration” as the 38th President. The plaster cast includes an image of the Frank Eliscu eagle sculpture that graced President Ford’s Oval Office and an image of the Presidential Seal. Blue textile matting surrounds the piece in a gold colored wooden shadow box frame.

Plaster Cast for Inaugural Medals

A plaster cast of a medal for Gerald R. Ford’s “inauguration” as the 38th President. The plaster cast includes an image of the Frank Eliscu eagle sculpture that graced President Ford’s Oval Office and an image of the Presidential Seal. Blue textile matting surrounds the piece in a gold colored wooden shadow box frame.

Plaster Cast for Inaugural Medals

A plaster cast of a medal for Gerald R. Ford’s “inauguration” as the 38th President featuring his image. Blue textile matting surrounds the piece in a gold colored wooden shadow box frame.

Plaster Cast for Vice Presidential Inaugural Medals

A plaster cast of a medal for Gerald R. Ford’s “inauguration” as Vice- President, displaying his image. Blue textile matting surrounds the piece in a gold colored wooden shadow box frame.

Complete Set of Gerald R. Ford Inaugural Medals

This is a collection of medals commemorating the “inauguration” of Gerald R. Ford as President. The obverse includes a likeness of Gerald R. Ford, while the reverse depicts an eagle in flight. The first is “Proof Silver” and is highly polished. The second is “Silver Vermeil” made of 24k gold on silver. The third is an “Antique Silver” and has a patina finish. The fourth is “Antique Bronze” with a patina finish. The set is stored in a blue leather bound case with a silver embossed eagle in the corner. The inside features a molded area for the coins covered in black felt and a blue satin lining on the lid.

Commemorative Coin

A commemorative coin of Gerald R. Ford’s swearing-in. The obverse shows Gerald R. Ford being sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger, while the reverse displays a timeline of events surrounding Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Commemorative Coin

A silver Gerald R. Ford commemorative coin in a clear plastic coin case. The obverse of the coin features an image of Gerald R. Ford. The text reads, “Gerald R. Ford / 38th President / of the United States.” On the reverse, there is an image of an eagle with the text, “Gerald / R. Ford / born July 14, 1913 / married Elizabeth / Bloomer, 1948 / only appointed Vice / President to become / President. First / to serve after / resignation of / predecessor.”

Watts Program

This red program for the Watts Community event features a gold foil Presidential Seal on the cover, the first page reads, “Housing Ceremony / for the Citizens of / The Watts Community / Will Roger’s Park / East 103rd and Central Avenue / Los Angeles, California / Friday, August 9, 1974 at 9:00 A.M.” The program schedule within lists “Introduction of Guest of Honor / Vice President of the United States / The Honorable Gerald R. Ford.” Ford, however, was unable to attend the event due to President Nixon’s resignation.

Presidential Seal Gavel

A light brown gavel that features the Great Seal inset in the head. The back includes an inscription that reads “Presented to Gerald R. Ford 38th President of the United States August 9, 1974, 11:35 A.M.”

Framed Grand Rapids Press Newspaper

A framed front page of the Grand Rapid Press, August 9, 1974 issue. The headline of the newspaper reads “Ford Becomes President.” Under the headline is a large picture of President Gerald R. Ford. The page is matted and housed behind glass in an antiqued wooden frame with black accent.

Gerald Ford Political Button

A Gerald Ford political button dated to 1974. The button features a black and white portrait of Ford in the center on a white background with a small picture of the American flag on either side of him. A red half circle above him displays white text that reads, “Our 38th President / August 9th, 1974”. A blue half circle located below him has white text that reads, “Gerald R. Ford.”

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