Abe collects attention at SC antiques show

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With Feb. 12 marking the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of America's 16th president, an exhibit focusing on Abraham Lincoln collectibles was well-attended Sunday at the Spring Fox Valley Antiques Show.

The two-day event began Saturday and drew more than 1,000 visitors, said Virginia Larsen, chair of the Chicago Suburban Antique Dealers Association show.

Presenting rare finds -- ranging from an original bust of Lincoln, dated in 1865, to a steel engraved Lincoln portrait and a vintage beaver-felt top hat similar to those worn by the president -- Ray McCaskey presented "Collecting Lincoln" and explained the types of items that typically comprise a collection.

"Sometimes, collectors actually set out to acquire particular items, and other times, collections just happen," said McCaskey, a member of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum Foundation board in Springfield. "The prime types of collectibles are things the person handwrote or actually used, while other items in a collection might be things that represent what a person might have used."

He discussed books and newspaper articles about Lincoln, as well as commemorative items such as a campaign fob about the size of a nickel, with Lincoln's portrait on one side and vice presidential running mate Andrew Johnson's on the other, and a campaign booklet introducing Lincoln as a presidential candidate.

Original documents bearing the president's signature also are coveted items for the collection, he said. One exhibit included an original pass issued to a soldier for a temporary leave, along with one of President Lincoln's hand-signed calling cards given to the soldier during a chance meeting with Lincoln. Plaster casts of Lincoln's hands, possibly created from the original set of molds, were also part of the collection. McCaskey also had a few novelty items on hand, pointing out a plastic aftershave bottle shaped like Lincoln, and a Lincoln-themed plastic candy dispenser.

At the show, 55 vendors displayed antiques from the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. The Garfield Farm Museum in LaFox sponsored the event.

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