Abraham Lincoln's glasses auction for $84,500 at Nate D Sanders

A pair of glasses that once belonged to US president Abraham Lincoln have sold through Nate D Sanders.

Abraham Lincoln spectacles
With fantastic provenance, the spectacles were destined to sell well

The spectacles began the sale with a modest minimum bid of just $2,500, but soon climbed to $84,422 last night (June 27) after only six bids.

They can be seen in a photograph of the president taken by Alexander Gardner in Washington DC in 1865 - the year that the US civil war ended.

An affidavit and deed of gift written by Lincoln's great grandson, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, accompanied the glasses. It explains:

"'I, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith of Washington, D.C., certify that among the contents of a trunk located and unopened until recently, and placed in the attic of Hildene, the estate of my grandfather Robert Todd Lincoln, Manchester, Vermont, by my grandmother Mary Harlan Lincoln (Mrs. Robert Todd Lincoln)... were found two pair of eye glasses which had belonged to my great grandfather President Abraham Lincoln, and so marked by my grandmother Mary Harlan Lincoln."

The pair at auction were given to Margaret Fristoe, who Beckwith married two years after writing the letter in 1977. After Fristoe died, they were passed to her daughter, Lenora Fristoe Hoverson.

The second pair was presented to James T Hickey, curator of the Lincoln Collection of the Illinois State Historical Library, where they remain today.

Also attesting to the spectacles' authenticity is a signed letter from an optician that states the prescription as +2.12, a match to Lincoln's known prescription strength, which was in the 2.00 range.

Paul Fraser Collectibles also has a great personal item from Abraham Lincoln - fragments of the wallpaper from his bedroom.

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