John Wilkes Booth hair realises $31,000

A lock of John Wilkes Booth's hair made $31,250 in Heritage Auctions and the Railsplitter Museum's September 17 sale of Lincoln memorabilia.

It was clipped from the presidential assassin's head during his autopsy in 1865.

Wilkes Booth hair
John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln in 1865 

Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln while the president watched a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC in 1865. After a couple of weeks on the run, he and his accomplices were apprehended and hanged.

The hair has exceptional provenance.

It was originally snipped by Dr John M B Peddicord, who explained how he came by it in a 1903 article in the Washington Post.

He writes that all of the medical staff were expressly forbidden to take souvenirs from the body by the chief surgeon general Barnes, but: "While the steward wiped the instruments and replaced them in the case I picked up the scissors and cut from about the top of Booth's head a lock of hair.

"Gen. Barnes heard the grating of the scissors and turned sharply around, but I evaded him by attempting to drive some sailors back who had crowded too close out of curiosity.

"The steward who saw me clip the lock of hair kept his own council and I have that grim memento unto this day."

Memorabilia associated with Wilkes Booth is extremely rare as Eric Bradley of Heritage Auctions explained to the Daily Beast: "Shortly after Lincoln's assassination, society and culture was purged of any mention of John Wilkes Booth, so anything of his is always desirable."

We have a wide selection of celebrity hair for sale, click here to take a look.

Other lots in the sale included an important signed photo of Lincoln that made $175,000.

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