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Historical checks on display at Carnegie library

| Thursday, June 15, 2017, 3:33 p.m.
Bernadette Kazmarski, a freelance graphic artist who does work for the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, takes a photograph of checks on display in the library's Lincoln Gallery on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including Abraham Lincoln and other United States presidents. The Lincoln check displayed is said to be the last document signed by him before his assassination.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Bernadette Kazmarski, a freelance graphic artist who does work for the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, takes a photograph of checks on display in the library's Lincoln Gallery on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including Abraham Lincoln and other United States presidents. The Lincoln check displayed is said to be the last document signed by him before his assassination.
A check from author Mark Twain sits on display at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including Abraham Lincoln and other United States presidents.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A check from author Mark Twain sits on display at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including Abraham Lincoln and other United States presidents.
A check from President Abraham Lincoln sits on display at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including the Lincoln check which is said to be the last document signed by him before his assassination.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A check from President Abraham Lincoln sits on display at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including the Lincoln check which is said to be the last document signed by him before his assassination.
A check from President William Henry Harrison sits on display at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including Abraham Lincoln and other United States presidents.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A check from President William Henry Harrison sits on display at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie on Thursday, June 15, 2017. The library displayed 13 historical checks owned by Huntington Bank from figures who had ties to the Civil War including Abraham Lincoln and other United States presidents.

Minutes before Abraham Lincoln left for Ford's Theatre, where he ultimately was shot, he signed an $800 check to himself.

That 1865 signed check and 12 other checks with ties to the Civil War were displayed in the Lincoln Gallery of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie on June 15 as part of an event with Huntington Bank, who owns the checks.

"Anything signed by Abraham Lincoln is amazing to me," library and music hall Executive Director Maggie Forbes said.

The check was made payable to himself and was never cashed, she said. Today, that $800 check would be worth about $11,500.

"It's one of those neat things that will raise question and get you pondering," Forbes said. "It raises all sorts of interesting questions about his finances. This is a 100 percent authentic Lincoln artifact. This is the first significant [Lincoln] artifact that has visited the library."

Being able to display the checks "says something very special about the Free Library & Music Hall," Forbes said.

The Free Library & Music Hall is home to the Capt. Thomas Espy Post 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic — one of about six remaining out of nearly 7,000 that had been created.

"Lincoln's check was the last piece of paper he touched before he left for the theater and was assassinated," said William Eiler, the regional public relations vice president for Huntington Bank.

"I was getting goose bumps touching the same piece of paper that Abraham Lincoln did."

Huntington Bank came into 70 historically significant checks — including the 13 displayed in Carnegie — in 1982 when the Columbus, Ohio-based bank purchased Union Commerce bank in Cleveland.

Kristina Serafini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at kserafini@tribweb.com or on Twitter at @KristinaS_trib. Bobby Cherry is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rcherry@tribweb.com and on Twitter at @bc_trib.

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