First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s Hair (Plus Honest Abe’s John Hancock) Set for Auction

November 29, 2016 5:00 am
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, circa 1863 (Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln's Family
The Lincoln family in 1864: (from right), President Abraham Lincoln, his sons Thaddeus (a.k.a. Tad) and Robert and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. (MPI/Getty Images)


Clearly, hair was a valuable keepsake to some back in the day. Case in point: We recently covered an auction selling the historically fated pair of Abraham Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth. Now, you can add Lincoln’s wife and first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, into the mix.

In Heritage Auctions’ Dec. 3 “American and Political” grand format auction, there’s a curious lot that includes two locks of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s dark brown hair specked with grey. The two sizable locks (see image below) accompany an envelope from an Illinois insurance company, with a short note that the locks are, indeed, Mrs. Lincoln’s. And even if you’re not a hair collector, the lot also includes a historic scrap of paper, featuring 11 words written by her husband the president and signed by him, too. (It’s worth noting that what’s keeping the lot’s minimum bid at $5,000 is the Lincoln signature, but don’t let that scare you hair collectors away from bidding on it.)

Mary Todd Lincoln's Hair and Abraham Lincoln's Autograph
(Heritage Auctions)


According to the auction house, the autograph and locks originated with a Mrs. Fowler, who was a neighbor of Mrs. Lincoln’s in Chicago. How she wound up with Honest Abe’s autograph and her friend’s hair remains a mystery, though.

Like we said, the lot has a minimum initial bid of $5,000. Click here to bid on it. To browse the entire auction, click here. Not sold on the hair trade? Watch a 2008 video below from the Wall Street Journal, featuring noted hair collector and expert John Reznikoff to get a better idea of the historical hair market.

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