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President's Hair, Bloody Telegram Up for Auction

Abraham Lincoln's hair is expected to fetch at least $75K
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 29, 2020 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – This is one macabre auction: A lock of Abraham Lincoln's hair, wrapped in a bloodstained telegram about his 1865 assassination, is up for sale, the AP reports. Boston-based RR Auction said bidding has opened online for the items ahead of a live auction scheduled for Sept. 12 in New Hampshire. The auction house set the minimum bid at $10,000 but expects the lock and telegram to fetch $75,000 or more, spokesman Mike Graff said. Measuring roughly 2 inches long, the bushy lock of hair was removed during Lincoln's postmortem examination after he was fatally shot at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, by John Wilkes Booth. It was given to Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd, a Kentucky postmaster and a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, the 16th president's widow, Graff said.

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The physician was present when Lincoln's body was examined, he added. The hair is mounted on an official War Department telegram sent to Dr. Todd by George Kinnear, his assistant in the Lexington, Kentucky, post office. The telegram was received in Washington at 11pm on April 14, 1865. A caption typed by Todd's son reads: "The above telegram … arrived in Washington a few minutes after Abraham Lincoln was shot. Next day, at the postmortem, when a lock of hair, clipped from near the President's left temple, was given to Dr. Todd ... he wrapped the lock, stained with blood or brain fluid, in this telegram and hastily wrote on it in pencil: 'Hair of A. Lincoln.'" Dr. Todd gave a slightly different account later in life, writing in 1895 that he clipped the lock of hair himself.

(Read more Abraham Lincoln stories.)

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