Friday, August 15, 2008

Lincoln Artifacts Soaring In Price And Demand


The Voice of America (VOA) website has an interesting report on its website today about the growing interest and prices in Lincoln artifacts. On the webpage I provided, you'll find a link to a video report (at the top of the VOA webpage) from the VOA discussing the recent sale of incredibly rare Lincoln letters and signatures at Sotheby's. I posted about this sale back on April 3, 2008 talking about the one letter which brought $3.4 million! The video report interviews the Sotheby's archivist in charge of the auction, a gentleman who has also appeared on the Antiques Road Show. The owner of the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop in Chicago is also interviewed. If you ever get a chance to visit the Bookshop, you should do so, as it's an incredible treasure trove of Lincoln books, signatures, photos, and other artifacts. All are for sale and all are extremely expensive. I provide a link to the Bookshop under "Lincoln And History Links."

I can attest to the stunning prices in Lincoln collectibles, although on a far lower scale. In recent weeks on eBay, I've seen a rare carte-de-visite (CDV) photo of Mary Todd Lincoln and two of her sons fetch over $2,300; a Fremont-Lincoln campaign ribbon from 1856 bring $1,7000; and an incredibly rare signed photo of Lincoln sold for an astounding $180,000 (not including the buyer's premium!). Even fairly common Lincoln biographies from the 1860's are now selling easily for more than $150 or so.

No doubt these prices are skyrocketing thanks to growing interest in the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. I can attest to the interest in artifacts about Lincoln thanks to the increasing number of hits on this blog from people searching for information about them. Additionally, I'm a collector of Lincoln items, but certainly not at the level of these prices. I own a copy of the first Lincoln biography (The Wigwam Edition); a complete set of the 1890 10-volume biography of Lincoln written by his private secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay; and some other old and rare books. But to be able to buy the truly rare items I previously mentioned would take far more money than I have to blow on "junk" as my wife calls it. :-)

2 comments:

Timo said...

My great, great grandfather was the head of the Board of Alderman of New York City during 1858-1860. I inherited from him and subsequent generations a fairly vast collection of books. Within the last year I was paging through one of the books entitled "Lincoln Obsequies" when I came across a piece of fabric pinned to one of the pages. Written on it in old brown ink was a statement indicating that it was a piece of the sleeve of the shirt worn by Lincoln at the time of his assassination. There is further writing stating "Presented by Captain Thomas". Ford's Theatre Museum indicated to me that they do not have the shirt and that it was put in the plain coffin used to transport Lincoln's body to the undertaker. I am trying to determine the identity of Captain Thomas. One source has verbally conveyed to me (without documentation) that Captain Thomas was one of the individuals who accompanied Lincoln from Ford's Theatre to the rooming house. Does anyone know what happened to Lincoln's shirt and/or who Captain Thomas might be?

Harold said...

According to a documentary titled "the search for john wilkes both" on the History Channel. President Lincolns shirt was left in the "coffin" the soldiers used to carry his body from the house to the White House. it was discovered by some soldiers who obtained permission from their superior officer to cut it up and take as souvenirs. A search online seems to support this as some reputable auctions sites have pieces for sale. (http://historical.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=6014&Lot_No=61150). IMO it is likely you have an extremely valuable piece of history in possesion. Hope this helps.

 
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