The Voice of America (VOA) website has an interesting report on its website today about the growing interest and prices in Lincoln artifacts. On the webpage I provided, you’ll find a link to a video report (at the top of the VOA webpage) from the VOA discussing the recent sale of incredibly rare Lincoln letters and signatures at Sotheby’s. I posted about this sale back on April 3, 2008 talking about the one letter which brought $3.4 million! The video report interviews the Sotheby’s archivist in charge of the auction, a gentleman who has also appeared on the Antiques Road Show. The owner of the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop in Chicago is also interviewed. If you ever get a chance to visit the Bookshop, you should do so, as it’s an incredible treasure trove of Lincoln books, signatures, photos, and other artifacts. All are for sale and all are extremely expensive. I provide a link to the Bookshop under “Lincoln And History Links.”
I can attest to the stunning prices in Lincoln collectibles, although on a far lower scale. In recent weeks on eBay, I’ve seen a rare carte–de–visite (CDV) photo of Mary Todd Lincoln and two of her sons fetch over $2,300; a Fremont-Lincoln campaign ribbon from 1856 bring $1,7000; and an incredibly rare signed photo of Lincoln sold for an astounding $180,000 (not including the buyer’s premium!). Even fairly common Lincoln biographies from the 1860’s are now selling easily for more than $150 or so.
No doubt these prices are skyrocketing thanks to growing interest in the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. I can attest to the interest in artifacts about Lincoln thanks to the increasing number of hits on this blog from people searching for information about them. Additionally, I’m a collector of Lincoln items, but certainly not at the level of these prices. I own a copy of the first Lincoln biography (The Wigwam Edition); a complete set of the 1890 10-volume biography of Lincoln written by his private secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay; and some other old and rare books. But to be able to buy the truly rare items I previously mentioned would take far more money than I have to blow on “junk” as my wife calls it. 🙂