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    Rail-Splitting Maul Owned, and Probably Made, by Lincoln. As both history and legend record, the young Abraham Lincoln was "the railsplitter." Rail making was a task accomplished by splitting a log lengthwise by driving an iron wedge into it with a wooden maul. Each successive segment was likewise split until one had rails of the desired size; these, when overlapped in zig-zag fashion, made a durable, serviceable, cheap, and easily repaired fence, saving the cost of nails or millwork. Mauls were sometimes made from a single piece of wood, head and handle being a continuous piece. This maul is so made, and may not only have been used, but carved out, by Lincoln. While mauls had numerous uses, they were invaluable for railsplitting. In 1860 Lincoln's youthful occupation became the main motif of his presidential campaign, enthusiastically embraced across the north, and 150 years later "The Railsplitter" remains one of his most recognized nicknames. This maul was exhibited for many years in Lincoln's Springfield tomb by caretaker and collector Herbert Wells Fay, who acquired it in 1894 from C. L. Elliott. It is accompanied by an affidavit signed by Elliott and Fay, 27 August 1894, in which Elliott states that "This maul was used by Abraham Lincoln at New Salem, Menard Co., Ill. It came into my possession in 1868, well authenticated." Together with a small snapshot of "Hilton Park, evangelist", holding the maul, probably on the Lincoln tomb grounds; penciled 1930 identification by Fay on verso. The maul itself is very battered and well used, the handle splitting, but all portions still present. Rustic and rough-hewn Lincolniana that would make a superior display item.

    : H.W. Fay collection, sold by Riba-Mobley Auctions, South Glastonbury, Conn., 26 October 1985, lot 161.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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