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    Description

    [Mary Todd Lincoln] Mary Todd Lincoln's Black Walnut Commode. The former First Lady is said to have acquired this essential piece of household furnishing while traveling in Europe, and to have used it during the last years of her life. Essentially a cabinet, about 17.5" high x 14" x 14", it stands on brass casters and has red, tan and cream brocaded upholstery on the hinged top cover. When the latter is lifted, an oval inner wooden cover is revealed, and when that in turn is lifted the commode chamber is exposed; this contains a large, plain porcelain bowl that lifts out. The bowl has some age cracks but is basically fine. At the foot of the commode is a narrow drawer, presumably used for storing toilet paper. Some of the inner wood has small cracks and losses, but the commode is strongly built and overall it is in very good condition. Even as a piece of antique furniture, it is a rarity. The commode remained with Mrs. Lincoln until her death in 1882 and eventually passed to her great niece Mary Edwards Brown. Subsequently acquired by Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt, it was featured in her article about the Brown family mementoes in Life magazine, 9 February 1959. Together with a notarized affidavit signed by Mrs. Brown, 1957, describing the commode, and some later Kunhardt family letters that concern it. A highly unusual and intimate relic, with perfect documentation.

    Provenance:
    Mary Todd Lincoln; Ninian Edwards family, to Mary Edwards Brown; Kunhardt, lot 91; purchased post-auction from the Kunhardt estate by Dr. Lattimer.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,519

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