02/15/2013 10:17 am ET

Lincoln Hat DNA: Panel Calls For Testing To Prove Iconic Stovepipe Hat Was Really Worn By Honest Abe

The tall stovepipe hat is the most iconic accessory to be associated with Abraham Lincoln, but members of a state historic panel that oversees the Abraham Lincoln presidential museum in Springfield, Ill. want DNA evidence to be sure.

“I really think we have a credibility gap with this hat,” said Tony Leone, a member of the state Historic Preservation Agency Board.

The Sun-Times reported Wednesday that Leone wants the hat tested by the Illinois State Police’s forensic lab to establish whether it really belonged to Honest Abe.

The museum has long stood by the authenticity of its prized showpiece (it's reportedly valued at $6.5 million) and called the controversy a "dead issue."

The paper first broached the story last April when it reported the people running Lincoln's presidential museum and library in Springfield admitted "they can’t pin down how, more than 150 years ago, a farmer acquired the stovepipe hat."

Despite the debate over its authenticity, the hat —one of just three in existence — went on display in January as part of a celebration honoring Lincoln's 204th birthday.

When reached for comment, the museum told Fox News, "There's no deception at all."

James Cornelius, curator for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, told the Illinois Times the question of conducting DNA tests on the hat comes up regularly, but that no hairs were even found in the hat and more probing tests could damage the artifact.

Leone has mentioned DNA could be gathered from dandruff or skin cells from the cap's lining, but Cornelius said even if such material was recovered from the hat, no DNA profile has ever been developed for the 16th president.

The Sun-Times said the matter of the hat's authenticity could get a more thorough look when the board next meets in June.

The museum suffered an embarrassment last year when it was revealed a portrait it had received of Mary Todd Lincoln was hoax. The New York Times admitted it was fooled by the painting, along with the Chicago Tribune and National Geographic.



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