Stephen Pradier sent a link to a Wall Street Journal article on the interesting history of an important check - believed to be the last one signed by Abraham Lincoln. Thanks - it's a good article with an interesting story.
When Huntington Bancshares Inc. facilities employee Peggy Draeger uncovered an 1865 check by Abraham Lincoln in a long-forgotten box, she rekindled not only the odd story of how the check came to be written but also of its chain of custody.
The first story begins some 24 hours or so before John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, when the president likely set about his routine of ensuring his family's monthly expenses were set. The nation's 16th president wrote himself an $800 check on April 13, 1865, made out to "Self." It's the last known check he ever signed—as rare a piece of Lincolniana there is, according to experts. He was shot on April 14.
Each month Lincoln wrote a check for about $800, according to Daniel Stowell, the director and editor of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. "This was probably groceries and necessaries," Mr. Stowell said. "He obviously didn't pay any rent, but he did have horses to maintain for carriage and they had to be fed, so that's perhaps the equivalent of a car payment."
The Lincoln check is rare not just because of its timing but also because he wrote only two checks from First National Bank. Lincoln was a banking client of Riggs & Co., Mr. Stowell said. But his August 1864 paycheck, for $1,981,66, was deposited in First National Bank, probably a mistake by the assistant secretary of the treasury who handled Lincoln's finances.
Given the mistake, the April 13, 1865, check is just the second withdrawal Lincoln made from the First National account, according to the bank's ledger. The balance was delivered to the Lincoln estate after his death.
The second story picks up in 1927, when the New York Times reported that Thomas F. Madigan, an autograph collector, turned up the check for the first time.
"Lincoln's handwriting is typical of the man—rugged, virile, unpretentious, suggesting strength and simplicity," Mr. Madigan would write later in his book "Word Shadows of the Great: The Lure of Autograph Collecting."
The bank put the checks in the trove on display in Cleveland in 1976, as part of the country's bicentennial celebration.
Enter Huntington, which acquired Union Commerce in a hostile takeover in 1983. The checks almost came public after Huntington offered them to an Ohio historical society to exhibit, but they were never displayed and were returned to the bank.
There they sat until Huntington's Ms. Draeger opened the box last year. The bank had the checks appraised and considered auctioning them off, but public interest prompted the bank to cancel the auction and instead put the checks on display at banks around the country.
As for the Lincoln check, it is currently on display in Cleveland—in the old Union Commerce headquarters.
The bank's collection includes a large number of historically important checks. Here's one written by George Washington in 1799.
To read the complete article, see:
The Quirky Story Behind the Lincoln Check and Its Journey
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