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January 24, 2015

Lock of Lincoln's hair auctions for $25k

A trove of Lincoln memorabilia went up for auction in Dallas on Saturday

History Abraham Lincoln
01.23.15_Lincolnhair AP Photo /for PhillyVoice

Lincoln's 150-year-old lock of hair was part of a collection related to the president's assassination

Dallas - A lock of slain U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's hair was among the items sold at an auction that netted $803,889 on Saturday. Items connected to the assassin of America's sixteenth president were top sellers among the major  private collection of Lincoln memorabilia.

The lock of Lincoln's hair, removed by Surgeon General Joseph Barnes shortly after Lincoln was shot by actor and Confederacy supporter John Wilkes Booth, fetched $25,000.  The incident at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. occurred on April 14, 1865. Lincoln died the next day.

About 300 items that belonged to the late Fort Worth, Texas history buff Donald Dow were up for auction on Saturday. Dow's collection is considered one of the best private Lincoln memorabilia collections known to exist, according to Heritage Auction officials.

Dow built the collection over five decades, beginning in 1963 with the purchase of a box of books, according to his son Greg Dow, who is selling the collection. The elder Dow died in 2009.

"He started collecting because of his interest in the Civil War and military history," Greg Dow said prior to the auction. "But then he became interested in Lincoln and the assassination."

The items auctioned on Saturday included a letter to a friend written and signed by Booth in 1861, which sold for $30,000, and two separate eyewitness accounts of the assassination that went for $27,500 and $14,375.

The military arrest warrant for Booth landed $21,250, while a framed compilation of autographs by Lincoln, Booth and Boston Corbett, the Union officer credited with fatally shooting Booth, sold for $30,000.

A fragment of a letter Lincoln wrote to a Baltimore attorney in 1862, containing a rare admission that the Civil War was not going well for the north, went unbought.

"Considering Mr. Dow's effort to document the assassination and the nation's reaction, it's fitting the collection is offered during its sesquicentennial year," said Tom Slate, director of Americana Auctions for Heritage.

Greg Dow said the time was right for him to sell the collection. "I want other collectors to have a chance to enjoy it," he said.

The identities of buyers were not available.