Lincoln Presidential Library Weighs Auctioning Artifacts to Pay Off Debt

The gloves Lincoln wore the night of his assassination could be among the relics sold.

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, in Springfield, Illinois. (Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Back in 2007, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALMPLM) in Springfield, Illinois, acquired a number of precious artifacts connected to the 16th president. But, to finance the purchase, the foundation that runs the library took out a $23 million loan that it has been unable to repay in full. So to resolve the debt, the foundation is considering a radical step: sell some of the items in the collection that they acquired using the loan. With that money, the foundation had bought the privately held Barry and Louise Taper Collection, which included a notebook Lincoln wrote calculations in during his childhood, as well as a fan belonging to Mary Todd Lincoln and bloodstained gloves that Lincoln wore the night of his assassination.

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Stovepipe hat believed to have belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the bloodstained gloves he carried on the night of his assassination. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum)

Historians at the ALMPLM asked the foundation to acquire these relics 11 years ago so they could “broaden the ALPLM’s holdings and once purchased, ensure [the collection] would be made available to the public in perpetuity,” according to a GoFundMe page set up by the foundation. The foundation has privately raised $13.3 million over the past 11 years to repay the loan but the remaining $9.7 million comes due in Oct. 2019. The foundation is doing everything it can to avoid selling the relics, including the auctioning off of several Marilyn Monroe items that were also acquired in the 2007 purchase.

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