PRESIDENT JEFFERSON DAVIS (CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA) - EPHEMERA UNSIGNED - HFSID 250640
Sale Price $2,040.00
Jefferson Davis' Hair
Seven authenticated strands of Jefferson Davis' hair mounted on an 81/2x11 page containing facsimile reproductions of an engraving of Davis and the following handwritten statement under which the original lock of hair had been affixed with a pin and framed with the letter: "Montreal. Saturday, September 21, 1867. Mrs Howell gave me this lock of hair to day in the presence of President Jefferson Davis - It was cut from his head during his confinement in Fortress Monroe-Mrs Howell is the mother in law of President Davis. Mrs Jefferson Davis was also present at the time. Thos Placide." provenance: Accompanied by a photostatic copy of a four-page letter by William C. Floyd who conducts Historical and Genealogical Research out of Edgewater, Maryland. Mr. Floyd's letter dated September 13, 1997 is addressed to Mr. Phillip B. Lamb of Phillip B. Lamb, Ltd, New Orleans. In 1997 Mr. Lamb had the original framed presentation which he sent to Mr. Floyd for examination. Mr. Floyd returned it with the above referenced letter. At some point between September of 1997 until these strands came into the possession of the Gallery of History in June of 1999, the original lock and its framed presentation were sold. The strands of the lock were dispersed. these hairs came from the world's largest collector of famous people's hair. his collection is documented in the guiness 1999 book of records. The letter of research in part: "I am returning by registered mail the framed presentation with a lock of hair from Jefferson Davis and the attached letter from the American actor, Thomas Placide. I have examined this material carefully. While I did not open the frame to inspect the lock of hair, I did view the strands carefully under high magnification and then compared them to the hair displayed in various photographs of Jefferson Davis in the National Archives. It appears obvious, that based upon physical comparison and other evidence presented later in this report, that this indeed is the hair of Davis. Upon your suggestion, I contacted the previous owner of this item and received very satisfactory answers to the pertinent questions about the provenance of this exceptional presentation. As you pointed out, this item has not been altered or tampered with by the previous owner or the person from whom he obtained it some years ago. Furthermore, I visually examined the paper to which the hair is attached and found it consistent with the paper produced in the United States in the immediate post-Civil War years. This paper has the correct fiber content and bears the age marks consistent with writing material of the late 1860's...Though I am not a specialist in external aspect, the pin appears original, as does the thread used to bind the lock of hair. The facts presented in the letter written by Placide are identical to those found in the important reference works on Davis. I was unable to locate any handwriting examples of Thomas Placide and it is unlikely that any have survived. However, my informed opinion is that the ink on this letter is from the period, appropriately aged and shows no signs of fabrication or alteration. It is simply honest, unaffected penmanship entirely consistent with the historical facts. I summarize my relevant historical research below. Jefferson Finis Davis was captured on May 10, 1865...He was released from Fortress Monroe on May 13, 1867, and proceeded to Richmond, where he was placed on bail pending trial for treason and complicity in the Lincoln assassination...The summer heat and humidity of Richmond harshly impacted Davis, already sickened and weak from his grueling confinement in Fort Monroe. Davis decided to take his family to Montreal, Canada, and shortly after his arrival, he received an invitation to visit the home of James Murray Mason in the village of Niagara, near Toronto. Mason, former Confederate ambassador to England, along with Davis' wife, Varina...Mason and Charles Helm, former CSA agent in Havana, traveled to Montreal to fetch Davis...Davis stayed in Toronto approximately two months, August until the end of September, 1867. He then returned to Montreal and stayed there until the beginning of 1868...The dates of Davis' travels in Canada exactly match the date which Placide places on the letter to which is attached the lock of hair, September 21, 1869...Thomas Placide...has been described as a boisterous performer who never achieved major roles or more than passing fame. He was most successful portraying servants and footmen, roles...Thomas Placide's theatrical experience also included managing theaters in New Orleans from 1850 to 1854...It may have been during this period that he became friends with Davis...In 1856, Placide joined Wallack's theater in New York...Placide was known to have appeared in Richmond and Washington, D.C., another point of possible contact with Davis, who served as Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce from 1853 to 1857...It is not known whether Placide served in any covert role for the Confederate government...Finally, it should be observed that samples of hair, along with photographs, jewelry, books and other personal items, were among the gifts exchanged among friends and relatives during the Civil War years as symbols of love and admiration...In summary, my thorough examination of all aspects of your presentation convince me that this lock of hair was a genuine gift from Jefferson Davis and his mother-in-law, and that the historical context of the letter penned by actor Thomas Placide is entirely original and accurate in time frame and all relevant details. It is possible that the lock of hair was cut by Davis to be sent to his wife or other relatives while in Fortress Monroe, but that failing health or mail restrictions made it impossible for him to send this special gift from his damp, dark cell in the federal fort on the coast of Virginia near Norfolk. Thus, the postwar retreat to Toronto well may have been the first special occasion that Jefferson Davis had openly to present gifts and share thoughts and emotions with family members and close friends...." Fine condition.
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