Description[Mary Todd Lincoln] Pair of Pendant Earrings Owned by Mary Todd Lincoln. These "earbobs" appear to be made of gold-mounted black onyx. Each consists of a circular piece, about a half-inch in diameter, connected by a gold link to a teardrop-shaped pendant about 1-1/8" long and almost a half-inch wide near its base. The pieces bear, alternately, incised hand-painted figures of a man and woman dressed in what appears to be late medieval costume, with minute floral patterns above the pendant figures. The original hooks (Mrs. Lincoln had pierced ears) have been replaced with gold ear screws.
Accompanied by a 7" x 9" sepia photo of the earrings, on the back of which is an unsigned, undated (ca. 1935) handwritten pencil note by the highly respected autograph dealer Forest H. Sweet of Battle Creek, Mich., reading in part: "...Mrs. Lincoln's earrings [showing] old hooks above...which Tiffany replaced with screws so Mom could wear them. They came from C.F. Gunther in a trade...Dr. [W.A.] Evans...sent this picture, original of an illustration in his book on Mrs. Lincoln, for which I loaned him the earrings." Also present is a charming 1970 letter from Sweet's daughter and business successor, Julia Sweet Newman, stating that the earrings were acquired from Gunther by her grandfather Forest G. Sweet. Gunther was "elderly at the time... [and] said he knew they were Mrs. Lincoln's...but he couldn't remember why he knew it. He told Dad that he was sure that Dad would live to prove it... What a pity some men don't record information when they are young and can remember!" Also present: carbon copy of a partly printed packing slip from Edsel B. Ford, Rouge Plant, Ford Motor Company, 1931, for shipment of the earrings to Sweet (he had "offered them to Henry Ford at $2500" according to the letter of Mrs. Newman); a large copy print, by Bachrach, of a Mathew Brady photograph showing Mary Lincoln wearing these very earrings; and two letters from Bachrach studios to Forest H. Sweet, 1931, about the photo. Exquisite personal relics, in very fine condition.
Provenance: Gunther; Forest G. Sweet, to Julia Sweet Newman by descent; sold by the family through Charles Hamilton galleries, New York, to Dr. Lattimer.
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