A roughly 2-inch-long bushy lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair is up for auction, and the memorabilia happens to be wrapped in a bloodstained telegram concerning the 16th president’s assassination in 1865, The Associated Press reported Friday.
Though the minimum bid for the items is set at $10,000, Boston-based RR Auction anticipates the mementos to go for $75,000 if not more, according to spokesman Mike Graff.
Bidding for the items is open online ahead of the Sept. 12 live auction in New Hampshire.
Lincoln was at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. when he was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth.
The lock of hair was removed from Lincoln’s person during his postmortem examination and given to Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd, a Kentucky postmaster and cousin of the president’s widow Mary Todd Lincoln, according to Graff.
Dr. Todd sent the official War Department telegram in question, on which the hair is mounted, to his assistant at the post office, George Kinnear.
Graff said that the telegram, which was received at 11 p.m. on April 14, 1865 in Washington, “is evidence to disprove the misinformation and conspiracy theories in the Lincoln assassination.”
“The above telegram … arrived in Washington a few minutes after Abraham Lincoln was shot,” reads a caption that was typed by Todd’s son. “Next day, at the postmortem, when a lock of hair, clipped from near the President’s left temple, was given to Dr. Todd — finding no other paper in his pocket — he wrapped the lock, stained with blood or brain fluid, in this telegram and hastily wrote on it in pencil: ’Hair of A. Lincoln.”
Thirty years later in 1895, Dr. Todd said instead that he himself had been the one to clip the president’s hair, some locks of which he intended for Mrs. Lincoln, and one for himself. The doctor said he preserved the latter as “a sacred relic,” according to his account in papers of the time that are kept at Allegheny College.
The clipping was last sold in 1999 and its authenticity is partially rooted in a 1945 letter by Dr. Todd’s son James, who noted the lock of hair “has remained entirely in the custody of our family since that time.”
Despite the context of the items, the auction house doesn’t feel them to be dark and dreary but “a fascinating artifact from a horrible tragedy,” as Bobby Livingston told AP.
“It’s not macabre,” said Livingston, the auction house’s executive vice president. “Collecting locks of hair was common after someone passed away. It’s such a piece of history. The assassination of President Lincoln was obviously such a shock.”
Are they supposed to be collectibles???