The origins of Abraham lincoln’s top hat
When you picture Abraham Lincoln, that great hat that he always wears inevitably comes to mind. We want to learn more about his iconic head-wear, so we talked with a number of experts to learn a little more about
It would be a $6.5 million hat—but maybe not. WBEZ reports that the crown jewel of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the collection of the Museum, Lincoln’s hat, one of only three thought to still exist, could not have belonged to the 16th president.
Two reports obtained by the station found insufficient evidence to tie it to Lincoln. One 2013 report written by the top curators with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Chicago History Museum, which tried to make the historical origin: Springfield, Ill., the museum had maintained that Lincoln gave the hat to a farmer in Illinois in 1858, but a century later, a descendant said the hat was given in 1861 during a visit to DC.
The report concluded that “the current documentation is insufficient to support the story and enabled the museum to “soften the claims” or even try to return the hat.
It was acquired in 2007 as part of a mammoth $25 million purchase of Lincoln items by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, which runs separately from the museum.
The foundation, in 2014, asked the FBI to see if DNA analysis would enable a tie to Lincoln. The appeal to the DNA of Lincoln’s hair and the blood-spattered objects of his murder but a limited amount of remaining DNA data” in the hat, most of what is being restored”, in accordance with the contemporary DNA of a person who had recently handled the post.” The story is more complicated: Alan Lowe—the museum’s executive director since July of 2016, according to the Chicago Sun-Times—only recently learned about the reports, a timeline he called “unacceptable” in a letter to the foundation.
The foundation itself is stuck in the financial problems tied to its 2007 purchase, which currently has $9.7 million in debt.
This article originally appeared on Newser: They Spent Millions on a Hat That Can be Worth Nothing