Extensive private collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia auctioned off in Texas
Abraham Lincoln, November 1863 (Alexander Gardner)

DALLAS (Reuters) - A collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, including a lock of the 16th U.S president's hair, will be up for auction in Dallas on Saturday, months before the United States marks 150 years since the end of the Civil War and Lincoln's assassination.

The collection of more than 300 items, with a combined estimated value of about $400,000, belonged to a Fort Worth history buff and is considered to be one of the best private Lincoln collections known to exist, according to Heritage Auction officials.

The late Fort Worth art gallery owner Donald Dow built the collection over five decades, beginning in 1963 with the purchase of a box of books, according to his son Greg Dow, who is selling the collection. The elder Dow died in 2009.

"He started collecting because of his interest in the Civil War and military history," Greg Dow said. "But then he became interested in Lincoln and the assassination."

Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and supporter of the Confederacy. He died the next day.

Highlights of the collection include a fragment of a letter Lincoln wrote to a Baltimore attorney in 1862, containing a rare admission that Civil War was not going well for the north but rejecting surrender. The fragment is projected to sell for about $25,000.

Papers endorsed by Lincoln arranging a prisoner swap between a Union soldier in Confederate custody and the son of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who was being held by the Union, is estimated to sell for $10,000.

The items up for auction include the arrest warrant for Booth, estimated to sell for $4,000, and two eyewitness accounts of the assassination, expected to fetch $6,000 and $8,000.

Greg Dow said the time is right for him to sell the collection.

"I want other collectors to have a chance to enjoy it," Dow said.

(Reporting by Marice Richter; Editing by David Bailey and Mohammad Zargham)