There was an important auction this week of Lincoln and assassination memorabilia. I was surprised by this discrepancy:
The lock of hair, taken by Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes shortly after Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, sold for $25,000.
An 1861 letter written by Booth to a friend boasting about his career and value as an actor sold for $30,000.
You’d have thought anything of Lincoln’s, much less his actual hair clipped by the doctor on site for his autopsy would be worth more than a simple letter by JWB. Thankfully, the article followed up with a handy explanation:
"The public was so disgusted by Booth’s atrocity that most all letters, signatures and documents mentioning him were destroyed after Lincoln’s death, making any that survive 150 years later exceedingly rare and valuable," said Don Ackerman, Consignment Director for Historical Americana at Heritage Auctions.