LINCOLN OR UNCLE SAM TOP HAT OF MACERATED GREENBACKS- NAMED MAKER

$195.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1202-139

Shipping: Determined by Method & Location of buyer

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Call 717-334-0347,
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This is a miniature top hat molded from macerated U.S. currency, a genre of tourist souvenir popular in Washington, D.C., from about 1875 into the 1920s. The hat has a bit of a flare to it, so it may be more a reference to Uncle Sam, along with the red, white, and blue ribbon, than to Lincoln, but when push came to shove, it was whatever the customer wanted. This still shows many tiny bits of green. The underside of the brim has pasted a label reading: “Made of United States Bank Notes. Redeemed and macerated at / U.S. Treasury, Washington, D.C. / Estimated at $3,000. Made by R.F. Buchanan.”

Instead of burning old currency taken out of circulation, which still left some fragments floating around that might be found and redeemed, the government switched to maceration in 1874, which ground it while wet into pulp. The prospect of seeing many  thousands of dollars destroyed was a novelty and the resulting pulp itself, containing small bits of paper and traces of ink, became the medium for molded souvenirs for sale to tourists of the Capital, with several producers creating portrait busts of notables, patriotic Lincoln or Uncle Sam top hats, miniature buildings like the Washington Monument, but also a wide variety of knickknacks like small animals, shoes, etc. They remained for sale in souvenir shops well into the 1920s, but lost a lot of appeal after 1908 when the government added chemicals to the pulp, destroying the bits of color, though a few entrepreneurs then added their own bits of paper.

This is a nice example of the genre, unusual in having the maker’s name on the label, and  still showing flecks of green, retaining its small ribbon, and with the dollar amount on the label indicating the value of the currency destroyed in making the batch of pulp from which it was molded, increasing the novelty of the memento.    [sr][ph:m]

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