Lock of President George Washington's hair, housed in a modern frame under glass. These strands were part of a larger lock of hair that was collected during the 1837 reinterment of George Washington while his body was being transferred from a wood, lead-lined coffin to a new, white marble sarcophagus at Mount Vernon. During this process, Joseph Cartledge took a lock of Washington's hair. Cartledge was a stone mason and sculptor who moved from England to the United States in 1833 to work at Girard College in Philadelphia, PA. In 1835, he went to work for stonecutter John Struthers, who was commissioned to design and carve Washington's new coffin in 1837. Cartledge was responsible for carving the word WASHINGTON on the lid of the new marble sarcophagus.
Subsequently, Joseph returned to Philadelphia and started Cartledge Memorials. Upon his death, the lock of hair was passed down to Joseph's son Stephen, also an accomplished stonecutter that produced a carving on the Washington Monument, who in turn passed it down to his son, William. In 1951, the hair was handed down to William J. Cartledge, Jr., then to William R., and lastly to his son, the current owner.
Approx. one third of the lock of hair was purchased by the Museum of Mourning Art in Drexel Hill, PA, and the lot is accompanied by a letter from the museum's curator discussing the purchase of the hair and outlining its provenance. The lot also includes photocopies of paperwork regarding the hair and its history, as well as the history of the Cartledge family.