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Records tumble in $2.4 million Abraham Lincoln sale at Heritage

A sale dedicated to the life and times of Abraham Lincoln has set new records at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.
Held in conjunction with The Rail Splitter, a publication for enthusiasts of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, the sale brought a final tally of $2.4 million.

“This was indeed one of the most important Lincoln auctions of the last 50 years,” said Tom Slater, Director of Americana Auctions at Heritage. “Never have I been so impressed and amazed at both the quality of the material and the passion of Lincoln collectors from all over the globe.”

Leading the sale was a solid gold medal presented to Henry Clay, the Kentucky statesman whom Lincoln described as “my ideal of a great man”. Clay served as both Speaker of the House of Representatives and Secretary of State during his long career, and was presented with the medal by a group of prominent Whig Party members during the final days of his life.

Struck in the U.S mint in 1852 using 30 ounces of solid California gold, the medal has passed down through Clay’s family ever since, and sold after strong bidding for ¬£346,000.

Intimate mementoes from Lincoln himself included a highly rare love letter written in 1836 to his first fianc√© Mary Owena, one of three such letters, which sold for $137,500; and a piece of Lincoln’s bloodstained coat collar from the night of his assassination on April 14, 1865, which sold for $18,750.

There was also a stunning new record set for any piece of Mary Lincoln memorabilia, when the First Lady’s extraordinary jet black silk mourning dress ensemble sold for $100,000.

Rare photographs of Lincoln included a signed carte-de-visite card which attracted competition from seven bidders on its way to a world record price of $175,000; and another signed carte-de-visite featuring a different Lincoln portrait which sold for $75,000.

The sale featured a wealth of campaign memorabilia topped by a portrait flag featuring Lincoln’s political rival Stephen A. Douglass, against whom he ran in the 1860 election, which sold for $93,750.

There were also good results for an 1860 Portrait Campaign Flag depicting Lincoln without a beard, which realized $75,000; a unique 1864 silk parade flag featuring Lincoln and his running mate Andrew Johnson, which brought $52,500.

Further historical highlights included a life mask of a beardless Lincoln which sold for $16,250; a single, 9-inch China dinner plate created for the Lincoln White House, which sold for $16,250; and a rare lock of hair from the head of John Wilkes Booth, snipped during his autopsy, which sold for $31,250.

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