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    Abraham Lincoln: Perhaps the Most Evocative Mourning Relics We Have Ever Offered. The lot consists of two silver Victorian jewelry pieces, a large engraved locket type pendant and a pinback brooch. Each has the same device, an expertly-fashioned image of Lincoln's birthplace log cabin--formed of strands of his own hair. Both pieces have a mother of pearl background which has been painted to depict grass and a tree, and the brooch is festooned with a border of pearls and what appears to be rubies. They measure 2.5" x 1.5" and 1" x .75" respectively.

    Inside the cover of the locket under glass (now cracked) is neatly lettered: "Sketch of ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIRTHPLACE, HARDING, KY. Feb. 12, 1809. Made from a lock of Lincoln's hair secured by Dr. Sabin Taft on the night of the assassination. April 14, 1865. Washington." On the back of the brooch is engraved in script "Lincoln / Apl. 14 / 1865."

    The hair was taken from one of the most famous Lincoln locks, clipped by Dr. Charles Sabin Taft during the slain president's autopsy. Taft, one of three surgeons to attend Lincoln after he was shot, was in the audience at Ford's Theatre and rushed to the stricken president's box. He remained with Lincoln until his death and throughout the post-mortem. He would later recall, "During the post-mortem examination Mrs. Lincoln sent in a messenger with a request for a lock of hair. Dr. Stone clipped one from the region of the wound and sent it to her. I extended my hand to him in mute appeal, and received a lock stained with blood, and other surgeons also received one" (Taft, Abraham Lincoln's Last Hours, 1934). The Taft lock now resides in the collection of leading hair expert John Reznikoff, who has made a microscopic comparison of the hairs used in the jewelry with those of the Taft lock. His conclusion is that the hairs appear to match precisely.

    The locket and brooch were acquired from a Connecticut family descended from Abraham Pierson, one of the founders of Yale College. These pieces may have come into their possession through Julia Taft Bayne (1845-1933); Charles' sister, who married John S. Bayne, a Congregational minister, in 1869. Julia was a childhood playmate of Willie and Tad Lincoln in the White House until Willie's tragic death cast a pall over the presidential mansion.

    Preserving a loved one or famous person's hair was a widespread custom in Victorian times, and it was often incorporated into rings, bracelets, lockets, etc. However, this is the only example of which we are aware that incorporated the hair of our sixteenth president. A unique and affecting manifestation of the grief which overwhelmed the nation in the weeks and months following the events of April 14-15, 1865.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    17th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,378

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