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Letters to the Editor

Show & Tell

December 2, 2020

Dear Railsplitter:

I purchased this magnificent stained glass window on May 2, 2010 from a Rock Island gun auction where it went completely unnoticed by the gun collectors bidding on 5,000 guns over a two-day period. The previous owner was a 14-year-old boy in 1952 in Champagne, Illinois where the courthouse burned down. He went kicking through the rubble the next day and found this window and dragged it home. It had no frame which cost about $2,500 to custom make . I think it was made during Lincoln’s lifetime as the glass is the appropriate age according to the restorer who re-leaded it in parts and because it has no mourning black or ribbons to denote it was a memorial tribute. In any event, it is quite rare. I know of only three other Lincoln windows.

Three years later, I purchased this sign from Cowan’s Auction. It was painted an ugly blue /gray with white paint drips like it had been used as an exterior sign but the catalog referred to it as a “tin” folk sign. When we went to attach it to the deck off my back yard, the installer scraped the sign with his screwdriver by accident and discovered it was copper! We then had it professionally cleaned and now my $1,200 purchase is the highlight of my yard. I also own the Booth jerkin, inkstand, and blood–stained shirt collar from the Latimer Collection.  

Michael Plummer

Editor: Thanks for sending pictures. You apparently have eclectic tastes. While Lincoln windows are certainly rare, I have never seen any that were produced during his lifetime. I think your example was made in the early twentieth-century, perhaps around the time of World War One. Some research into the history of the courthouse that burned down might “shed light” on its origin. Regarding the copper sign, I’m thinking two things. It is either an advertisement for a restaurant called the “Copper Penny” or it is a gong used to called patrons to dinner. Did it come with a felt-head mallet?