Lincoln 1860

Lincoln 1860

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Abraham Lincoln and eBay

One of my favorite activities (my wife would call it an addiction) is to head to the land of eBay and seek out Abraham Lincoln collectibles. I've been an eBay member since its earliest days, before it was even called "eBay" (it was then known as "Auction Web"), beginning in the summer of 1997. I've had transactions with fellow members from around the world and I love the thrill of the hunt, so to speak. Now that Brian Birck has regrettably halted his outstanding "A. Lincoln Blog" I suppose it will be OK if I take over for him and occasionally post links to fun Lincoln items I spot on eBay. I always enjoyed those postings of his titled "Abe on eBay."

At any given time there are roughly 800 to 1,000 Abe Lincoln collectibles on eBay, ranging from cheap trinkets like fridge magnets and postcards to truly astounding items such as authenticated Lincoln autographs, letters, and rare campaign items which bring thousands of dollars. I typically search only for "Abraham Lincoln" because it finds the most items, but some sellers list items as "Abe Lincoln" and those searches return 200-300 items.

Without further adieu, here is the first batch of Lincoln items I'd like to share:

  • An 1860 biography in rough condition. I include this here because it was published as campaign literature prior to the election of 1860. It also includes information about Lincoln's first vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin. It's fairly common. Please note that this is NOT the first Lincoln biography, however. That distinction belongs to the famous "Wigwam Edition" published during the Republican Convention at the Wigwam in Chicago. Lincoln was such an unknown even at that point that the biography is titled "Honorable Abram Lincoln", getting his first name wrong. Those biographies are quite scarce, but you can occasionally find one on eBay, as I did a few years ago. I fortunately won the bid and it is the cornerstone of my Lincoln collection.
  • A lock of Old Abe's hair. The seller states authenticity and it may well be real. I'm not an expert, but I've seen so many supposed locks of hair from Lincoln listed on eBay that if they were ALL authentic, then Lincoln was surely bald-headed when he was buried. I'd be careful.
  • Here's a very nice campaign item featuring Abe and a top hat. Seller says it's an 1864 campaign item, but again, I'd be careful. It very well could be from a later Republican campaign or from the Lincoln centennial in 1909. I've not seen one of these before and I'm watching the auction closely, but will not bid.
  • This signed legal document is in Lincoln's handwriting and dates from 1853. I would trust this item with no hesitation as the seller is extremely reputable. I've purchased from them previously and they have impeccable service. This item is authenticated by a trustworthy outfit as well. Bid is already over $2500, so I don't think I'll be buying it.
  • A nice souvenir of the centennial of his birth is this small medallion. At just $2.58 currently, this is a cool and affordable item.
  • An ashtray showing a representation of the Derringer which shot Lincoln. This is weird.
  • An old print from 1866 titled "The Death Bed Of Lincoln." This looks authentic. I believe it's a Currier and Ives print. The actual room at the house where Lincoln died is much smaller than shown in the print and all of the people couldn't have possibly fit there at once.
  • How about a piece of a brick from Abe's house? These were available after the renovation of Lincoln's home in Springfield.
  • Here is another 1864 campaign item, a good looking photo pin. This I believe to be real.
  • Finally, let's close for now with an original newspaper containing the news of Lincoln's assassination. This item appears to be legitimate, based on the seller's history and the high current price of $660.00. Please be careful when purchasing supposed historical newspapers, especially if you see the famous New York Herald edition of the assassination for sale. The Herald edition of April 15, 1865 is a highly valuable newspaper, but it has been reprinted countless times. You have to know what you're doing so you don't get taken in by one of these reprints. Always buy from a reputable seller! I own a copy of my hometown's paper trumpeting the tragic news. I purchased it from Wes Cowan's "Historic Americana" auctions. He's highly respected and is an expert appraiser on Antiques Roadshow.

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