by Dr. Lori Verderame
The antiques, art, memorabilia, and collectibles associated with President Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809-died April 15, 1865) range in diversity and time period from the era of his boyhood to his leadership during the Civil War serving as our 16th President of the United States from 1861-65 until his untimely death.
Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer who served as the President of the United States from March of 1861 until he was assassinated at a theatre in April of 1865. He served the country during the American Civil War and preserved the Union while abolishing slavery by pushing through Congress the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. He also served to modernize the American economy and increase the power and importance of the US Federal Government.
Born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln was largely self-educated. As a boy, he lived in Western Kentucky, Indiana, and later, Illinois. He was elected to the Illinois state house and then to the House of Representatives as a Congressman from Illinois. He rivaled Stephen A. Douglas in a series of debates in the 1850s and lost a Senate seat to Douglas. In 1860, Lincoln received the nomination of the Republican party. He went on to win the Northern states and Lincoln won the presidency in 1860 with his running mate, Hannibal Hamlin.
Lincoln and the Civil War
Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 victory prompted seven southern states that allowed slavery to unite as the Confederacy. Then, a Confederate attack on Fort Sumter prompted the Northern states to rally behind Lincoln and the Union. Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address which was an important endorsement of nationalism, republicanism, and equal rights. Lincoln selected Civil War generals including Ulysses S. Grant and contributed to military strategy such as the naval blockade that shut down the South’s ability to trade, using the Army to protect escaped slaves, and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1864, Lincoln ran with Andrew Johnson and won re-election. At this time, with the end of the war in sight, Lincoln tried to reunite the nation quickly via Reconstruction.
On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was taking in a play at a theatre in Washington, DC which was only days after the Confederacy’s top General, Robert E. Lee, had surrendered, Lincoln was assassinated. Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate follower and Lincoln died from his wounds the next day, April 15, 1865.
Watch video of Dr. Lori appraising this estate sale find of a Lincoln Memorial maquette as she reveals its value. It was only $20 at the estate sale.
The wide variety of Lincoln antiques and collectibles is fascinating and highly valued in the marketplace. The President’s interesting life and his major impact on American politics and history resulted in the demand for Lincoln memorabilia. Some of the most popular Lincoln items are Lincoln mourning medals and ribbons, watch fobs made by the Illinois Watch Company, etchings, engravings, prints and paintings of Lincoln’s likeness, cigar lighters, personal effects such as locks of hair, autographs, White House china from the Lincoln service, furniture associated with Lincoln’s time in the White House, historical documents including letters, poems, notes, busts, pocket watches, paperweights, figurines, glass decanters, commemorative plates, meerschaum pipes, bookends, carte de visite featuring Lincoln’s image, 1860 Lincoln/Hamlin campaign buttons, tintype photographs, 1864 Lincoln/Johnson election tickets, and objects associated or owned by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, Lincoln’s children, and Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
What to Look For
Authenticity is a major issue when it comes to Abraham Lincoln collectibles. Many people wanting to capitalize on the popularity of President Lincoln produced objects that were not authentic or owned by Lincoln and tried to market them as authentic or worth money. Lincoln was known to write extensively and sign autographs to fans both before and during his time in office. Thus, written documents by President Lincoln remain highly sought after. Read how to identify authentic autographs.
Photographs, prints, and paintings of Lincoln are the most common objects that I see at my antique appraisal events and many are reproductions from the 1900s rather than 1800s originals. Images of Lincoln were produced in large numbers in the 20th Century in various media. Original works of art and prints depicting Lincoln’s unmistakable likeness are popular with collectors of 19th Century antiques and Presidential memorabilia.
Depending on the authenticity, condition, and type of object, Abraham Lincoln memorabilia can range in value from $500 to more than $5 Million dollars for a single high quality Lincoln antique object.
Get an online appraisal of your Lincoln collectible or Lincoln memorabilia from Dr. Lori.