Abraham Lincoln’s lock of hair and a telegram smeared with his blood sold for more than $81,000 at auction.
According to Boston-based RR Auction, the historic items were sold in an auction the ended on Saturday. The buyer has chosen to remain unnamed.
A 2-inch lock of the president’s hair was clipped during a postmortem examination a day after he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.
The auction house added that the hair was given to Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd, a cousin of first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Having nothing to wrap the lock of hair with, Todd reached into his pocket and used a War Department telegram sent soon after the president was shot.
“He wrapped the lock, stained with blood or brain fluid, in this telegram and hastily wrote on it in pencil: ‘Hair of A.
Lincoln,'” Todd’s son, James A.“The lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair … was cut from his head and given to my father during the performance of the postmortem and has remained entirely in the custody of our family since that time,” he wrote in the 1945 letter.Todd wrote in a caption.
Todd outlined the details of the hair and the telegram in a letter dated February 12, 1945.
RR Auction has verified the authenticity of the hair. The telegram was received at 11 p.m. the night Lincoln was shot.
“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 Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston said.
Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd was more than just a cousin of the president’s wife. He and President Lincoln got to know each other when the Lincolns visited Lexington, Kentucky, before the Civil War. He was appointed the postmaster in Lexington in 1861 after Lincoln became president.
Todd made history when he stayed at Lincoln’s bedside in the president’s final hours at the Petersen House across the street from Ford’s Theatre.
“My father went with Col. Vincent to the President’s bedside and they remained there until his death the next morning,” Todd’s son wrote in the letter.
Todd was present for the postmortem examination and accompanied the president’s body to the White House, the letter said. Todd was at Lincoln’s funeral and burial in Springfield, Illinois.
RR Auction said that more Lincoln memorabilia is up for auction through October 7. The items include a document signed by Lincoln appointing a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and a one-page signed letter sent to Sen. Charles Sumner.