June 10th, 2013
Provenance (pronounced prov-uh-nuhns or prov-uh-nahns), a guiding principle in the archives field, refers to the information regarding origin, custody, and ownership of an item or collection. Knowing the provenance of an item or collection helps archivists assess authenticity and enduring value. However, we do not always know provenance. In some cases, donors are unaware of the custodial history of their materials. In other cases, items are donated anonymously. One such item with unknown provenance is an interesting piece of art, the history of which is lost.
This three-dimensional relief bust sculpture of Abraham Lincoln (A&M 3930) looks to be similar in composition to papier-mâché. It was allegedly made from an estimated $5000 worth of redeemed U.S. banknotes. The framed sculpture is said to have hung for many years in the room where Lincoln died, across the street from Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The name of the creator and date of creation remain a mystery.
Blog entry by Jane Metters.