One would think finding hair in your book would give you the same disgust as hair in your food, but if that hair is actually a lock of President George Washington’s iconic grey hair, all bets are off.
Archivists at Schenectady’s Union College in New York found the artifact in an 18th-century almanac titled Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the year 1793. The almanac was found on top of a bookshelf at the college’s Schaffer Library.
Inside the book was an envelope that read “Washington’s hair, L.S.S. & [scratched out] GSB from James A. Hamilton, given him by his mother, Aug. 10, 1871.” The hair was tied with a thread within the envelope.
Image Via Matt Milless, Union College
So how did this rare artifact of American history make it to this library? The book belonged to Philip J. Schuyler, son of college founder Gen. Philip Schuyler, who was a friend of Washington’s. Historians are suggesting that Martha Washington gave the hair to Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, the wife of Alexander Hamilton, and the hair and the almanac became a family heirloom.
While the college admits it can’t definitively prove the hair was Washington’s, manuscript dealer John Reznikoff believes it to be “100% authentic” and worth between $2,000 and $3,000.
India Spartz, Union College’s head of special collections and archives said, “As an archivist, we come across interesting material all of the time, but this is such a treasure for the campus.” The college plans to preserve the lock of hair and put it on display.
Featured Image via Miller Center.