A lock of former President George Washington’s hair is up for auction with a starting bid of $1,000.
Leland’s Auctions claims the historic hair is “well-documented” to have been authentic and was removed from Washington’s head in 1799, the year he died at Mount Vernon.
The hair is contained in a handmade brass and glass locket and includes a hand-written letter. As of Saturday, seven private bids have increased the price to $1,771. The auction ends April 2 at 11 p.m.
As Leland’s describes the item:
These multiple strands of George Washington’s hair have been thoughtfully stored in this hand made brass and glass locket measuring roughly 1.75×2.5″ for many years. Believed to have been removed from our First President close to or after his death in 1799, this well documented specimen is is accompanied by a handwritten letter stating “General Washington’s hair – cut from his head in the year 1799 by Mr. John Pierie of Philadelphia, from whom I received it, Fr. Hopkinson, Philada: June 28th, 1836.” Artifacts associated with the nation’s first president are highly coveted by museums, history buffs, and memorabilia collectors alike.
A spokesperson for Lelands claims the auction house anticipates the hair to sell for between $4,000 and $6,000, according to The Hill. Another lock of Washington’s hair auctioned off by Lelands sold for more than $35,000 in 2019, according to the New York Post.
That particular founding follicle was attached to a letter sent by one of Alexander Hamilton’s sons on March 20, 1871, to a woman named Eleanor G. Collins. In 2018, it was found by an archivist surveying Union College’s library in Schenectady, New York. The book had been owned by Philip J. Schuyler, who was the brother-in-law of Alexander Hamilton and the son of Gen. Philip Schuyler, a New York senator.
A natural redhead, Washington did not wear a wig contrary to popular belief, but rather powdered his hair white according to the style of the time. His hair had grayed by the time he became president in 1789 at the age of 57.
Other chunks of Washington’s hair exist elsewhere. As reported by The Philly Voice:
Another lock of Washington’s hair, with a similar origin story, is also owned by the State Museum of Pennsylvania. A note accompanying that lock says Washington allowed Pierie, a “barber surgeon,” to keep “a pretty good portion” of the hair he had trimmed from the president’s head during his final visit to Philly in 1797. Pierie then distributed the trimmings to “a select few of his old customer + friends.
However, the Harrisburg museum says its hard to know how true that story is. There is record that Washington visited Philly during that time, but not much is known about Pierie.
“While verifying the veracity of such a story is difficult, the tale is consistent with historical events,” the museum says.