History buffs and watch lovers alike will be intrigued by a very special pocket watch coming up for sale this week that was purchased in 1841 by Abraham Lincoln as a wedding gift for Mary Todd. While Todd never received the watch, you can — if you go to the Baltimore Art & Antiques Show (August 25-28) where it is being put up for sale for $175,000.
The 18-karat gold and blue enamel pocket watch is studded with diamonds and is a solid example of mid-19th century matchmaking. Currently owned by Gotta Have It! Collectibles Inc., the watch has had several owners over the years and is being sold with documentation showing its provenance, as well as a gift letter, original box and key.
When Lincoln and Mary Todd were to be married, he purchased the watch as a gift for her and had the inside back cover engraved with the words: “To Miss Mary Todd from A.L. 1841.” However, their original engagement was broken and he later gave the watch to a friend, Mary Curtis, in an impromptu gesture.
Curtis took the watch home thinking Lincoln bought it for her and then saw the inscription. The recounting of the events note that Curtis was heartbroken and put the watch in a trunk, where it remained for 30 years. Near death, she gifted it to a friend in 1872. The watch has sold several times since, each time rising in the price paid. It is a grand example of how timepieces with provenance hold and increase their value.