Hundreds of presidential memorabilia, including a ticket to Abraham Lincoln’s funeral, a college cardigan that belonged to John F. Kennedy, and the pen with which Warren G. Harding signed the First World War Peace Resolution , are offered at the RR Boston auction. . Online sales includes 285 lots, including documents, photographs and ephemera of all stripes related to presidents from George Washington to Joe Biden.
Items belonging to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Franklin D. Roosevelt tend to be the most sought after among presidential item collectors; of the most modern presidents, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan may have the most avid fundraising bases.
One of the main lots in the sale, estimated at over $ 75,000, is a large albumen portrait of Abraham Lincoln with his young son Tad, who died at the age of 18. The popular and widely reproduced photograph was taken by Anthony Berger in the Matthew Brady photo. studio in 1864. Over a century later, in 1984, the US Postal Service presented the image somewhat deceptively on a stamp titled “A Nation of Readers”; although Lincoln and his son may appear to be reading a book together in the picture – and in some forged versions, reading a Bible – they were actually looking at a photo album.
The other prominent lot, also valued at $ 75,000, is a shadowbox display with engraved images of George and Martha Washington, as well as cuts of their hair. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was common to give locks of hair to loved ones as souvenirs; often the hair was worn in a locket. The locks of hair – Martha’s are looser – are contained in two ornamental catkins, separated by a golden American bald eagle wearing a thirteen star and thirteen striped shield, all on a blue velvet base.
A Lincoln haircut tied with white ribbon is also featured in the sale, priced at a more moderate $ 20,000. Last year, the auction house sold a lock of Lincoln’s hair during his autopsy, along with a bloody telegram about the president’s assassination, for $ 81,000.
“Some of the most valuable presidential artifacts are presidential hair” RR Auction Vice President Bobby Livingston told WBZ. Passionate presidential hair collectors have been around for quite some time, as evidenced by a framed exhibition of hair from the first 14 presidents, systematically collected by Smithsonian curator John Varden in the mid-1800s, in the collection of the National Museum of American History.
For the more sartorial, the auction includes a crimson Harvard sweater that belonged to John F. Kennedy, with “Kennedy” embroidered in a tag in the collar with red thread. CBS cameraman Herman Lang was filming an outdoor interview with Jacqueline Kennedy in 1964 when he mentioned he was catching a cold. A Kennedy staff member loaned him the late President’s sweater. When Lang tried to return it after the shoot, he was told to keep it as a memento. The wool cardigan is valued at over $ 35,000.
There are several other Kennedy-related items in the sale, including a brooch that Jacqueline Kennedy gave to her personal secretary for Christmas in 1960, with a note, valued at $ 3,500; books signed by John and Jacqueline, each valued at $ 2,000; and a vintage photograph of John signing the 1961 Space Bill, which, valued at $ 100, is among the cheapest items on offer.
In a statement, auction house representative Mike Graff said “RR Auction’s February presidential sale honors esteemed commanders-in-chief of the United States.” He continued, “From the founding of the nation to modern times, it is the leaders who have guided the United States in times of war and peace. Their lives and heritage are embodied in these nearly 300 objects. The sale will run until tomorrow, February 18.