Would you pay $22,800 for George Washington's Hair?
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MY PALM BEACH POST, February 9, 2016--
Was George Washington an early adopter of the man-bun?
Not exactly, but he did sometimes wear his pony-tailed hair in a silk man-bag that would dangle at the back of his neck, writes biographer Ron Chernow in his Pulitzer Prize-winning "Washington: A Life."
Called a "queue," it was a military-style "do favored by European and British officers as well as American colonials such as Washington who grew their locks to Fabio lengths, then tied them with a piece of twine or, on fancy occasions, ribbon.
And it was all his own, albeit, powdered hair, with the loose side pieces coaxed and oiled into the famous roll we know from Washington portraits.
Now, a few strands of those once reddish-brown locks can be yours for the kind of dough most people would happily cross the Delaware for: $22,800 from New Orleans' M.S. Rau Antiques.
A plaque with a few strands of Washington's hair and some scrapings from the red cedar case containing his casket is one of the most unusual items for sale at the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show, which opens Thursday at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in downtown West Palm Beach.
The relic also includes a replica of Washington's signature and a likeness of the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait.
Although no DNA testing has been conducted on the hair, according to M.S. Rau marketing manager, Shae Chambers, authenticity was established through provenance, letters from original owners and memorabilia experts.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, hair of a loved one was a prized sentimental object. Mourning jewelry was frequently made from the deceased's hair.
In Washington's case, the strands came from a larger lock of hair given to a man named Thomas Farmer in 1845 by a woman hired to braid Washington's and Andrew Jackson's hair into a piece of mourning jewelry.
The scrapings from Washington's funerary case were part of a larger piece given to Congressman Timothy Hedges in 1831, according to the antique dealer.
More than 170 dealers of art, silver, fine jewelry, porcelain and furniture are expected to be in the show, which runs through Monday.