LINCOLN STOVEPIPE HAT OF MACERATED U.S. CURRENCY BY O. DUKE

$175.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1202-140

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Souvenirs made of macerated U.S. currency were popular among tourists of  Washington, D.C., from about 1875 into the 1920s. This is a top hat molded with the relatively straight sides of the stovepipe style in a clear allusion to Lincoln. The hat still shows some tiny bits green and has a paper label it pasted to it has some minor losses, but reads: “Made of U.S. National Green-/backs redeemed  and macerated at the U.S. / Treasury. Estimated at $[….00.] / Made by O. DUKE / [715] 14th St. N.W. Washington, D. C.”

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.

Duke was one of several makes and his labels show up in a couple of different forms. The amount referred to the value of batch of currency destroyed to make the pulp from which this was made, of course, adding to its value as a novelty and souvenir.    [sr][ph:m]

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