Sculpture of Lincoln’s Hand Goes Missing From Museum

The sculpture is about the size of an 8- to 10-pound ham.

George Gray Bernard's sculpture of Lincoln's hand.Photo: Kankakee Police Department, via Facebook.
George Gray Bernard's sculpture of Lincoln's hand.
Photo: Kankakee Police Department, via Facebook.
Abraham Lincoln in 1863.<br>Photo: via Wikipedia.

Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
Photo: via Wikipedia.

In a town that venerates the Great Emancipator, its native son, the desire to own a part of Abraham Lincoln appears to have overcome a visitor to the Kankakee County Museum. A plaster cast of the hand of the 16th president of the United States, which museum officials describe as well over 150 years old and about the size of an 8- to 10-pound ham, recently went missing from a shelf at the museum, according to a December 14 Facebook post by the Kankakee police department.

George Gray Bernard's sculpture of Lincoln's hand.<br>Photo: Kankakee Police Department, via Facebook.

George Gray Bernard’s sculpture of Lincoln’s hand.
Photo: Kankakee Police Department, via Facebook.

In an editorial headlined “Hand the Lincoln Sculpture Back Over,” the local Daily-Journal called on an unlikely literary source to appeal for the return of the sculpture, which is the work of artist George Gray Bernard, who lived in Kankakee as a child. “There is a verse in the Quran which calls for a thief’s hands to be cut off as punishment for his or her crime,” says the paper, adding that the Islamic religious text also recommends clemency for thieves who repent.

No one is quite sure when the hand went missing. The theft was reported to the museum by a custodian who noticed the vacant spot on the shelf where the hand resided. It had been on display since at least 1991, the museum’s executive director, Connie Licon, told the New York Times. No one knows exactly when the theft took place.

George Gray Bernard's sculpture of Lincoln's hand.<br>Photo: Kankakee Police Department, via Facebook.

George Gray Bernard’s sculpture of Lincoln’s hand.
Photo: Kankakee Police Department, via Facebook.

The police estimate the piece’s value at $5,000, but the Daily-Journal notes that art collectors would be unlikely to shell out anything for a stolen artwork.

Art collectors, the paper notes, “tend to be decent and upstanding, and aren’t likely to add ill-gotten booty to their collection.” Considering the lively market for antiquities looted by ISIS from archaeological sites, we’re not so sure about that claim, but that’s a debate for another time.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the hand is asked to call the police investigations bureau at 815-933-0426.


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