Abraham Lincoln’s Lock of Hair Sells at Auction For More Than $81,000

by Chris Haney

A lock of President Abraham Lincoln’s hair paired with a blood-stained telegram about his 1865 assassination has sold at auction for more than $81,000.

The auction ended Saturday as the highest bidder won the historic items, according to RR Auction in Boston, MA. The identity of the wining bidder has not been revealed.

The auction was for a 2-inch long lock of hair that was removed during Lincoln’s postmortem examination after John Wilkes Booth fatally shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Kentucky postmaster Lyman Beecher Todd received the lock of hair. Dr. Todd was also the cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of the 16th president, according to RR Auction. In fact, Todd was present during Lincoln’s body examination.

George Kinnear, Todd’s assistant in the Lexington, KY post office, sent the hair mounted on an official War Department telegram. At 11 p.m. on April 14, 1865, they delivered the telegram in Washington.

Further Details on the Auction For Lincoln’s Lock of Hair

RR Auction vouched for the authenticity of both the hair and telegram. Dr. Todd’s son, James Todd, wrote in a 1945 letter that the hair “has remained entirely in the custody of our family since that time.” The collection was last sold over 20 years ago 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.

RR Auction expected a winning bid of around $75,000. However, the selling price slightly exceeded expectations with a final price of $81,250.

The telegram in the collection is also significant to history. It disproved the theory that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton planned to kill Lincoln because of personal and political differences.

Some people accused Stanton of ordering the disruption of military communications, which would allow Booth to escape. However, the time stamp on the dispatch clearly indicates the telegraph lines were functioning on the night Lincoln was assassinated.

[H/T ABC News]