A lock of George Washington’s hair has been discovered inside an 18th century almanac in Union College’s Schaffer Library in New York.
The curious find was made during a routine inventory of the university’s archive – within the temptingly titled “Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the year 1793”, which contains information on the coinage of the early colonies.
It had been some time since the book was last opened.
The hair was found in an envelope, along with a note reading: “Washington’s hair, L.S.S. & (scratched out) GBS from James A. Hamilton given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.”
It’s believed to have been a gift from James Hamilton (the son of Declaration of Independence signee Alexander Hamilton) to Philip J Schuyler – whose father had served as a general in the Continental Army and later founded Union College.
The elder Hamilton (and wife Eliza) had been close friends with George and Martha Washington.
Expert Susan Holloway Scott explained: “In an era when people frequently exchanged hair as a keepsake, it’s quite probable that Martha had given Eliza some of George’s hair, which in turn was given to their son, James, who later distributed it, strand by strand, as a precious memento to close friends and family members.”
The college contacted renowned authenticator and star of Pawn Stars, John Reznikoff, who proclaimed: “Without DNA, you’re never positive, but I believe it’s 100 percent authentic.
“It’s not hugely valuable, maybe two to three thousand dollars for the strands you have, but it’s undoubtedly George Washington’s.”
Union College plans to put the hair on display along with the almanac at some point in the near future.