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A House Divided
Posted at 10:54 AM ET, 12/14/2012

Check Civil War museums for unusual gifts

Finding the right gift for a Civil War enthusiast can be a difficult undertaking, particularly if a book is top of your list. Thousands of titles that are available and there’s a possibility your special someone already has a copy of almost everything.

Books are wonderful but the safer bet may be choosing something from a Civil War museum gift shop. Not the usual bobble heads, t-shirts, baseball caps, toy cannons or key chains but a copy of an Abraham Lincoln life mask, an authentic 12-pound Bormann shell, or a 10-foot copy of the original Confederate Constitution. These things are on the pricey side, but they represent only a small portion of what the shops offer.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. is the place to find the life mask, a copy of the original made by Clark Mills in 1865. It is approximately 12 inches tall, weighs a bit more than 11 pounds and is priced at $4,500. Also available from the shop’s original historic artifacts section is a medal minted in honor the exhibit of Richmond’s Libby Prison, which was moved to Chicago for the 1892 World’s Fair. It costs $875.

A 12-pound Bormann shell will be a great show-off piece and it is available at the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg, Ala. It could be yours for $385 plus shipping. Or you could consider some authentic and extra fine New York Infantry uniform buttons—six of them—for $300.

Ignore the problem of how someone will exhibit a 10-foot copy of the original Confederate Constitution and buy it for $250 from the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va. It will arrive wound on a large wooden roller.

Another possibility is a custom-made belt embroidered with your selection of flags from the museum’s collection. The artist is the museum’s multi-talented president and CEO, Waite Rawls. This won’t be ready for the upcoming holidays—it will take 90 to 120 days—but plan ahead and have the $350 belt on hand.

He will also make a custom needlework image of the White House of the Confederacy, located next to the museum. The art work will measure 9.75 by 12.5 inches and is yours for $790 but the same waiting period applies.

You can have an annual membership at the Lincoln Library and Museum as an individual for $70 or as a family for $85. The Old Court House Museum charges an entrance fee of $5 for adults, $4.50 for those 65 and above and $3 for students in grades 1 to 12.

The Museum of the Confederacy offers annual memberships for $40 for an individual, $55 for a family and for those 62 or older, a single membership is $30 and a couple is $35. A full time student pays $20.

By Linda Wheeler  |  10:54 AM ET, 12/14/2012

 
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