- From the Publisher
- A Cup Half-Empty
- Who Were the Lincoln Life Guards?
- Kepi Controversy
- Primary Source Material: Manuscripts
- Overlooked Evidence: Lincoln in Pioneer Chicago
- “THE UNION Is DISSOLVED” The Charleston Mercury Broadside: Points of Authenticity and Variations
- Lincoln Letter Fraud on Ebay
- What He Really Thought of Lincoln: The Discovery of an Unpublished Letter by William F. Herndon
- The Sanitary Fair’s Gifts to President Lincoln
- Behind the Scenes At Federal Hall
- In The Marketplace
- LINCOLNPHILE (book reviews)
- The Annotated Lincoln
- Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies
- Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History
- “Lincoln” Hits the Screens
- We Have The War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861
- Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War
- President James Buchanan and the Crisis of National Leadership
- Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln
- Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President.
- Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness.
- Letters to the Editor
- The Obvious Lincoln
- DeWitt Deaccession Debate
- Fake Lincoln Endorsement
- Historical inaccuracies found in CDV
- More on the Lincoln Avengers
- Cartoon Artist Identified
- Kepi Commentary
- An Item in Search of a Story
- Show & Tell
- Replicas For Sale
- Dueling Blogs
- Lincoln Artwork or Just Artwork?
- Devil with a Blue Dress On
- Breyer Model Horses
- Kudos on the new site!
- This daguerreotype looks like Lincoln, but is it Lincoln?
- What Is Lincoln’s Embalmer Worth?
- New Lincoln Stuff on the Market
- Rail Splinters
- Suspect Lincoln
- A Note from the Great Beyond
- ‘A. Lincoln’ Money Pit
- Added Cachet Value
- A Constant Flow of Fakes
- Problematic Copy Images
- Fraudulent Tintype
- If Only It Were Real!
- Rip-Off Ribbons
- Bogus Ballot
- “Ay, tear her tattered ensign down”
- Legit and Illegitimate Theater: The Ford’s Theatre Ticket
- Implausible Provenance
- Twice As [Not] Nice
- These Have Age, But Not Enough
- The Real and the Unreal
- Great Finds!
Dear Rail Splitter:
Let me begin by saying the descriptions of individual items you have on your website along with a picture is about as good as it gets. Extremely informative. Now to my reason for contacting you. I have one of these kepis that was sold to me many years ago and like the one you have shown was given provenance based on the article about Al Fostell in North-South Trader Magazine. I paid around $500 dollars and you can tell it is an old kepi. In reading your article, you didn’t come right out and give your opinion, which I would like to know. You appear to be a “true” collector of Lincoln items, and I am not. It’s hard for me to think a collector such as Fostell (based on what I have read about him) would intentionally try to deceive someone. I know mistakes get made, and I could name you a few that I know about over the years with Civil War artifacts, but like yourself with the Lincoln items, don’t you think that Fostell did some research on these items? I guess my question to you, which I feel you are an authority on Lincoln items: Does this kepi have any value? Also, if you ever run across any further info about these kepis, I would like to hear about it.
Thank you for your time.
Editor: Obviously, attributions are in flux. As new data becomes available, we are often forced to re-assess past attributions and revise them to conform with current known facts. A lot of times, we are presented with historical artifacts that have inadequate documentation. Often, there is an old note that accompanies the piece. That is sometimes all we have to go on. In those cases, there must be a “leap of faith” on the part of the collector. Either they dismiss the item as lacking provenance, or give it the benefit of the doubt and accept it on face value, assuming there are no glaring discrepancies.
I think most of today’s collectors are skeptics. They look to poke holes in items. This is understandable, giving the value of collectibles and the proliferation of fakes.
Fostell obviously lived in an age of limited scholarship and research resources. He also collected at a time when many of the people who sold him things were alive when Lincoln was president. That fact should account for something. I don’t know if he would purposely add false documentation to an object, simply to enhance its value or make it display-worthy for his traveling museum. However, that remains a distinct possibility.
Regarding the two kepis from the Fostell Collection offered by Heritage, I think the red, white and blue example with the affixed sticker is probably legit, but I wouldn’t pay a lot of money for it because the possibility exists that the label was added after 1860, by parties unknown, and may not be accurate. It’s the type of kepi used in 1860, but the provenance is mighty thin. The other kepi, which I seem to recall is black & brown, is definitely not a Wide Awake kepi.
I assume your kepi is the red, white and blue example marked “Salem, NY” on the interior that recently was offered on eBay. It may be a Wide Awake kepi, but it may have been worn by Bell, Douglas or Breckinridge partisans, or it may have been used in post-Civil War campaigns. If I was offering it for sale, I would represent it as a political campaign kepi, of the type used in the 1860-1880 period, possibly worn by a member of the Wide Awakes in 1860. There is just nothing there to connect it to Lincoln. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. It certainly has value as a political item but, as a Lincoln collector, I wouldn’t want to put it in my collection just based on speculation.
Thanks for your compliments on our on-line journal.
NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE RAIL SPLITTER PRESS:
Book Review Archive
- Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War.
- The Dark Intrigue: The True Story of a Civil War Conspiracy.
- President Lincoln: the Duty of a Statesman.
- Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries.
- The Lincoln’s: Portrait of a Marriage.
- The Madness of Mary Lincoln.
- Lincoln the Inventor.
- Lincoln and New York.
Rail Splinters Archive
- Stereo view photographs of Abraham Lincoln statue damaged in 1906 San Francisco earthquake
- Lincoln in Film
- John Wilkes Booth? Probably not.
- Answer to the question “Whatever became of the Gillett collection?”
- What happened to the Gillette Collection?
- This Train is Bound for Glory
- Lincoln Ballots 1834-1864
- Lincoln Museum in Boise
- Lincoln at the Abolition Ball
- Where East Meets West
- A Prince of a Guy
- In Memoriam: C. Peter Scanlan
- Portrait of Lincoln Legal Associate Unearthed
- Thomas T. Eckert Archive: Telegraphic History of the Civil War
- Beethoven’s medium channels news of Lincoln’s Death by composing “The Funeral March”
- Where is Mary Todd Lincoln’s 1861 Inaugural Ball dress?
- The Meatball does The Sauceman (and The Rail Splitter) proud
- Lincoln “apparently not” a sexist
- Campaign woodcuts in illustrated magazines, symbolism or adornment?
- 1890 Wide-Awake Reunion program
- Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention Highlights
Past Print Issues