The “Business” of Lincoln Artifacts

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I was reminded the other day of how historical artifacts are “big business” in today’s world. The Macomb Daily ran an article December 2, 2010: “JFK Assassin’s Coffin to be auctioned.” It describes an upcoming auction (which will be closed December 16, 2010) of Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin. It seems that the casket Oswald was buried in for 18 years was removed in 1981 as part of an investigation to determine if the body in it was really Oswald’s. Turns out that the corpse was, indeed, Lee Harvey Oswald. Afterward, the body was not reburied in the original coffin but in a new casket. Thus, Oswald’s pine casket-the first one he was buried in- is now up for grabs for the highest bidder.  The owners hope to fetch a winning bid of around $100,000. They don’t expect a shortage of interested bidders.

Historical items related to JFK and Abraham Lincoln have a special interest to folks. Probably because they were both assassinated presidents. Also, they both are still very popular historical figures in our culture. Names related to their lives: Mary Todd, Jackie, John John, Tad…need hardly no explanation. We all know who they were. Ford’s Theatre brings to mind Lincoln’s death. So does John Wilkes Booth. So does John Wilkes Booth’s gun. The “grassy knoll” is forever a JFK associated term. And of course there is Lee Harvey Oswald and his rifle.

Lincoln artifacts have brought in big bucks to folks as well. Just for fun check out Ebay any day of the week and check out Lincoln historical items up for bid. Some documents I have seen posted are starting in the multi-thousands. I don’t know if the items are authentic or not. I suppose some of them are. I’m always amazed to find so many sellers putting strands of Lincoln’s hair up for bid. How much hair did they cut off Lincoln’s corpse anyway? And how did so many people got hold of his hair? Passed down the family through the generations?  Last week I saw where one person was selling a piece of brick from Lincoln’s home in Springfield. I guess it could be authentic-who knows? There are, of course, other auction venues to purchase Lincoln items. One of the Lincoln signed 13th Amendments sold in 2006 for a total of $1.9 million. It was sold by an auction house in North Carolina. Certainly out of the league of most people!

So it seems that the interest in these historical items has no bounds. Personally, I enjoy finding out what’s being offered for sale. Obviously I’m not alone. So don’t be surprised at what you might see or read about “out there” in your journeys-just don’t always believe it’s real. Lincoln only had so much hair–ok?

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