Abraham Lincoln’s hair, telegram bring $108K at auction

Wrapped in a bloodstained telegram detailing Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 assassination, a lock of the 16th president’s hair sold for $81,250 US (about $108,000 Cdn.) at an auction in Boston this September.

Offered as Lot 3013 of RR Auction’s Sept. 12 sale, the roughly five-centimetre lock of bushy hair was removed during Lincoln’s autopsy.

Just hours earlier, on April 14, 1865, the president was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Lincoln’s lock was then given to Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd, a Kentucky postmaster and a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, the president’s widow, according to auctioneer Mike Graff.

“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,” according to a Sept. 13 story by the Associated Press. “The telegram was received in Washington at 11 p.m. on April 14, 1865.”


The lock and telegram, the latter of which disproves a conspiracy theory about Lincoln’s assassination, previously sold in 1999.

“At the time, some claimed that (Secretary of War Edwin) Stanton ordered military communications to be disrupted, allowing Booth to briefly elude his captors. The time stamp on the dispatch shows that military telegraph lines were, in fact, functioning on the night Lincoln was assassinated.”

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