University Archives

Description: Mary Todd Lincoln Signed & Inscribed Mourning Envelope

A mourning envelope signed by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882) as "Mrs. Lincoln" in the lower left corner, and also inscribed by her with the name of her recipient, "Mrs Bloomfield Moore." N.d., but accompanied by a photocopy of a Mary Todd Lincoln letter from Washington, D.C. dated December 16, 1862 that was presumably enclosed within this very envelope. An embossed "L" seal is partially present on the envelope flap verso. Letter-opened at the top and left. Isolated areas of black touch-up to the mourning bands, else near fine. 4.25" x 2.5." Also accompanied by several newspaper clippings containing obituaries of Adolph Borie (1809-1880), who briefly served as Secretary of the Navy during the Grant administration. (Perhaps these articles were also preserved among the treasures of fellow Philadelphian Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, in addition to this envelope?)

Mary Todd Lincoln addressed this envelope to "Mrs Bloomfield Moore," almost certainly referring to Clara Jessup Moore (1824-1899), the American writer and philanthropist from Philadelphia. It is possible that the two women knew each other through Union war relief efforts. Clara Moore served as corresponding secretary of the Women's Pennsylvania Branch of the wartime Sanitary Commission, and also organized a hospital relief committee.

The December 16, 1862 letter that we posit was once contained within this envelope was among those of a cache of eleven previously unpublished letters which were discovered by historians Thomas F. Schwartz and Anne V. Shaughnessy ("Unpublished Mary Lincoln Letters," Vol. 11, Issue 1, "Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association," 1990.) Schwartz and Shaughnessy provided a full transcript of the original letter in their article; its first and last lines correspond with the truncated halves of the photocopied letter which we have. (Please refer to the attached image to see the full content of Mary Todd Lincoln's December 16, 1862 letter to Mrs. Moore.)

This mourning envelope was probably in recognition of Willie Lincoln (1850-1862), the Lincolns' third youngest son, who had died ten months earlier, in February 1862. Victorian mourning customs dictated one year of mourning for the death of a child.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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