Auction Action Gets Hairy in Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Kentucky -Items associated with and attributed to military leaders often bring top dollar at auction. But, one recent auction took things a little further and sold what can only be deemed a very personal item. In fact, it might not even really be George Washington’s hair _ but it still sold for $17,000.

    Four strands reportedly clipped from the first U.S. president were sold at auction recently to a Richmond man who declined to give his name.

    Colorado resident Christa Allen said her father, a Philadelphia attorney, had given her the hair, which was pressed under glass in a locket and accompanied by a watch.

    Allen told potential buyers that the hair had been handed down since it was clipped from Washington’s head. The Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, inspected Allen’s evidence and gave her its backing.

    Jamie Bates, owner of Thompson & Riley, which auctioned the hair, had hoped it would bring at least $75,000.

    “I’ve never sold George Washington’s hair before; I don’t know,” Bates said before the auction.

    The hair is believed to have been snipped from Washington when he was briefly disinterred in 1837.

    While presidential hair sales are rare, its not unheard of.

    In the 18th and 19th centuries, celebrity hair procurement was common: People collected snippets of hair as remembrances, making hair wreaths or hair jewelry from the locks of the departed.

    But, handicapping a hair sale is tough. Confirming the root of the hair — particularly hair as old as Washington’s — is an exacting process borrowing in equal parts from history, heredity and luck.

    Allen said she’s holding on to a few strands of Washington’s locks. However, she didn’t give a heads up as to what she planned to do with the hair.

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