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Lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair, ‘bloody’ assassination telegram sell for $81,250

A lock of hair from President Abraham Lincoln‘s postmortem examination, along with a blood-stained telegram delivered shortly after his 1865 assassination, sold for more than $81,000.

Lincoln’s thick lock of hair, about 2 inches long and mounted to the official telegram, sold at auction Saturday, according to a statement from RR Auction of Boston.

The lock of hair ended up in the custody of Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd, a cousin of Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln. Todd was present at the postmortem examination and is believed to have wrapped the hair clipping in the telegram, which his assistant, George Kinnear, sent to him the previous day.

“The above telegram … arrived in Washington a few minutes after Abraham Lincoln was shot,” a typed caption prepared by Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd’s son, James A. Todd, reads.

“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.”

The items sold for $81,250, which was more than the $75,000 the auction house expected to fetch since they went up for auction online late last month.

Lincoln, who became the 16th president of the United States in 1861, is known for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves within the Confederacy in 1863.

John Wilkes Booth fatally shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington , D.C. on April 14, 1865. The official War Department telegram with Lincoln’s hair affixed to it was received in Washington at 11 p.m. on the same day, according to RR Auction, which confirmed the authenticity of the hair and telegram.

James Todd wrote in a letter dated Feb. 12, 1945, that the lock of Lincoln’s hair has remained in family custody, but the auction house said the hair clipping was last sold in 1999.

“When you are dealing with samples of Lincoln’s hair, provenance is everything — and in this case, we know that this came from a family member who was at the president’s bedside,” RR Auction’s Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston said in a statement.


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