A lock of hair and a telegram smeared with Abraham Lincoln’s blood have just been auctioned for over $81,000. The hair was taken from Lincoln’s body during a post-mortem, the day after his assassination. The buyer of these historic (but morbid) objects has chosen to remain anonymous.
The hair, which dates back to Lincoln’s death on April 14 1865, was given to a member of the family. Dr Lyman Beecher Todd was a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, the first lady. It was Todd who, having nothing with which to wrap the hair, folded it into a War Department telegram. The hair was stained with blood (or perhaps brain fluid), and Todd wrote on the telegram ‘Hair of A. Lincoln’. It is this confirmation from a family member which proves the authenticity of the hair (verified by RR Auction).
RR Auction Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston has said
“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.”
Dr Lyman Todd was both a cousin of his wife, and a friend of Lincoln himself. He stayed by Lincoln’s side in his final hours after the shooting at Ford Theatre.
Todd’s son has written about the artefact as well. In a letter dating back to 1945 James A. Todd wrote:
“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.”
RR Auction still has a number of Lincoln items up for auction, including a document signed by the President himself.