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Lock of George Washington's hair found in old book

Press Trust of India  |  New York 

Experts have discovered a rare lock of hair belonging to the first US George Washington, which was hidden inside a long-forgotten book at a college library.

The discovery was made during an ongoing inventory of archival collections of the at the in the US.

This is a very significant treasure. Its a tremendous testament to history and our connection to some of the most important historical figures, said India Spartz, and Archives at the library.

While surveying some of the oldest books and records, Daniel Michelson, a historical records project archivist, spotted on a shelf a compact, leather book, Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the year 1793.

The popular almanac, which includes population estimates for the American colonies and comparisons of various coins and currencies, is believed to have belonged to Philip J Schuyler, the son of Philip Schuyler, of the

The eldest was also a close friend and supporter of Washington, served under him during the Revolutionary War, and later became a US from Albany.

Examination of the almanac by John Myers, catalogue and metadata librarian, uncovered a slender yellowed envelope tucked inside.

It was inscribed: Washington's hair, L S S & (scratched out) GBS from James A given him by his mother, Aug 10, 1871.

The envelope contained several strands of gray or whitening hair, neatly tied together by a single thread.

The envelope also has an 1804 letter to the younger

A grandson of Schuyler, James was the third son of Alexander and Eliza

served as a in the Revolutionary War under Washington and later joined his cabinet as the of the Treasury when Washington was elected the first US

According to Prize-winning biography of Hamilton, George and were close to the much younger Alexander and Eliza. Washington died in 1799.

In an era when people frequently exchanged hair as a keepsake, it's quite probable that Martha had given Eliza some of George's hair, which in turn was given to their son, James, who later distributed it, strand by strand, as a precious memento to close friends and family members, said Susan Holloway Scott, an independent scholar.

A lack of documentation on clear custody of the material found in Unions archives or DNA testing makes it difficult to verify that the strands of hair are Washingtons.

Without DNA, youre never positive, but I believe its 100 per cent authentic, said John Reznikoff, a prominent

Its not hugely valuable, maybe two to three thousand dollars for the strands you have, but its undoubtedly George Washingtons, said Reznikoff who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the Largest Collection of Hair from Historical Figures.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 15 2018. 14:35 IST