LINCOLN, MARY, First Lady. Autograph letter signed in full and with intialled postscript at top of first page, to Caroline R. Wright ("My Dear Mrs. Wright"), Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., 15 February 1865. 1 1/2 pages, 8vo, written on pages 1 and 3 of a four-page sheet, page one with black mourning border.
FRIENDLY GREETINGS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE
A warm, conversational letter, thanking Mrs. Wright for a piece of hair jewelry (a Victorian form of endearment), probably made by Mrs. Wright herself. "It is almost painful for me to remember how long since you wrote me & that your kind & acceptable letter, still remains unanswered -- The beautiful wreath of hair has been very much admired & will always be retained in our family, almost, as a sacred relic. We have had a very busy winter, it is now however drawing rapidly to a close. Owing to some changes & repairs being made in the upper part of the establishment [the White House], not to speak of the painting going on, which is particularly offensive, we will be deprived of several charming visitors, yourselves included on the 1st of March. Yet if you locate yourselves at Willard's [the hotel] or elsewhere, we will be very happy, to have you dine with us & see you frequently. I am interrupted & must close. With kind regards for Gov. [Joseph A.] Wright & I remain truly yours...." In a short addition at the tope of page one, Mrs. Lincoln adds: "I take the liberty of enclosing you a notice of our last dinner. M.L."
It was a common Victorian pastime to work hair clippings from family members and friends into delicately interwoven decorative jewelry, sometimes incorporating beads, shells or small photographs. Often these had a memorial or funerary purpose, but in many cases simply served as reminders of a friend or loved one. Interestingly, Caroline Wright's gift of a hair wreath to Mary may be related to her collection of hair clippings of Lincoln, Mary and various other political figures (see lot 285). Perhaps it was her intention to work those clippings into another piece of hair jewelry with political significance. For details on Caroline Wright and her husband, Joseph A. Wright, Governor of Indiana, see next lot. This letter is apparently unpublished; not in Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters, ed. Justin G. Turner and Linda Levitt Turner, New York, 1987.