Hamlin’s estate sold at auction


BANGOR, Maine (AP) – The great-great-grandson of President Lincoln’s first vice president was among those placing bids as Hannibal Hamlin’s estate was auctioned off.

Cyrus Hamlin, 71, bought books, family photos and a bust of Hannibal Hamlin’s first cousin, also named Cyrus Hamlin, a seminary graduate who served as president of Middlebury College.

“I don’t think in terms of scholarly interest there’s anything of great value being sold,” he said. “People are here more out of a sentimental interest and curiosity.”

Hannibal Hamlin’s house and its contents were donated in 1933 to the Bangor Theological Seminary, where it was used by seminary presidents for more than 70 years.

The auction, which grossed more than $100,000 over the weekend, came as the seminary prepares to sell the remainder of its assets.

Among items up for bid were an upright spinet piano, Victorian couches and chairs, a mirror, lamps, Oriental rugs, a grandfather clock, books from Hamlin’s personal library and a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Hamlin, who lived from 1809 to 1891, was a state lawmaker, member of Congress and governor before he was elected as Abraham Lincoln’s running mate in the 1860 presidential election. He was dropped from the ticket for the 1864 election.

Travis McClure, a member of the Friends of Hannibal Hamlin, paid $600 for Hamlin’s top hat and its travel box, which will be worn by a member when he assumes the former vice president’s persona for historical and school events.

“This will complete the garb… We have some photos of (Hamlin) wearing the hat, so we’re quite sure it’s authentic,” said McClure.

Many seminary graduates and faculty joined antiques collectors and dealers at the auction, which also featured other items from seminary’s former classroom buildings, chapel and library.

“Bangor Seminary has to continue, but it’s tough to see strangers take things, although I think all the publicity is good for the school,” said Deb Carney, an Episcopalian who earned her master’s degree in 1986 and her doctorate in 2003 from the seminary.

Seminary President William Imes on Saturday called the auction “bittersweet.” Bangor Theological Seminary moved its campus to Husson College two years ago, downsizing from 70,000 to 10,000 square feet of space, Imes said.

“It’s been a challenge letting go of this spot,” he said. “We believe this is good stewardship, and we’re pleased that so many people have purchased a part of it.”