A centerpiece of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is receiving increased scrutiny over it’s authenticity and how it was obtained.
A new study has found no evidence to corroborate that a beaver-skin stovepipe hat, displayed at the museum, ever actually belonged to the 16th U.S. President.
The 16-month study was conducted by Illinois State Historian Samuel Wheeler, following continued questioning of the hats provenance.
Wheeler’s findings were detailed in a 54 page report that includes both study of the history and of the hat itself. The hat, which was at one point appraised at $6.5 million, does not appear to be in Lincoln’s size, and a “distinguishing mark” advertised by the museum as that of a Springfield hat maker, could not be verified as ever being used by the company.
The study also criticized a lack of due diligence to verify any link between the hat and Lincoln before it was purchased from the collection of Louise Taper in 2007. The hat was the center piece of a total collection purchased for approximately $25 million by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.
Questions have surrounded the purchase for years since the purchase from Taper who at the time, was a member of the Foundation Board of Directors.
Wheeler concluded his report by saying he had not been able to make a final determination as to whether Abraham Lincoln ever actually owned the hat. Instead, he said more research is “abundantly warranted.”
Chairman of the presidential library board and former federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says “We look forward to working with the foundation to explore continued research and ultimately decide how the hat can best be used to educate museum visitors.”