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For Sale: Milwaukee Man Claims To Have Letter From Lincoln

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Sep 22, 2012 8:00PM

For weeks, a 74-year-old man sat on a stool on a corner in Milwaukee next to a sign that said "For Sale - Letter from President Abraham Lincoln." He's asking for $10,000, which he says is a bargain for this letter written by Lincoln to Major Gen. Philip Sheridan on Sept. 20, 1864. It says, "Have just heard of your great victory. God bless you all, officers and men. Strongly inclined to come up and see you." Signed: "A. Lincoln."

A reporter at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was curious and visited Ron Barczynski on his usual street corner who told him he'd found the letter tucked into the back of a picture frame that he bought 40 years ago at a resale shop. Barczynski swore it was an original, an authentic, and he wants to sell it off since he's getting old. The Journal-Sentinel writes:

So here he is, perched on a Spider-Man stool, having a Coke and a smoke, and waiting for a Lincoln buff to come along and make him an offer. The retired chimney builder, who wears his gray hair in a pony tail, sounds discouraged as he wonders aloud whether people can even read the sign or know whom Lincoln was.

He lives nearby, and he usually doesn't bring the letter with him to the sales corner for fear of someone stealing it. When I met him Monday, he told me to come back Tuesday and he would have the letter there to show me. He has it displayed in an old frame held together with a rubber band.

So is it real? Drum roll... no. A worker at the Library of Congress found the original letter safe and sound in their archives.

"Mr. Barczynski owns one of what were probably many facsimiles, and the facsimiles have little or no monetary value," according to Daniel Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln research division of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

Sorry, Ron, no dough. The expert told the Journal-Sentinel that "Barczynski's price was way too low for an original, and way too high for a copy never touched by Lincoln." The reporter found Barczynski on his usual corner and broke the news to him.

"God, it's always something," Barczynski told him. "How could something that looked so good not be good?"