Conversation with a Lincoln Collector: Ethan Afshani From New York

The Harlan-Lincoln House hosted a very special guest on Monday. An event held at the Union Block of Mount Pleasant saw a young man from Buffalo, New York, share his vast knowledge on a subject he cares deeply about.

So, what is it that a 21-year-old man is so interested in? Typically, you might expect cars, the stock market, or maybe a sports team. This is not the case for Ethan Afshani. He has a vast knowledge and collection of the 16th president of the United States Abraham Lincoln memorabilia.

Ethan Afshani began collecting Lincoln memorabilia on his 17th birthday, and it has turned into an insatiable hunger. He recently contacted the Harlan-Lincoln House to ask about a pair of glasses belonging to the Lincoln family at one point. As fate would have it, the young man from New York would be in a town just a 3-and-a-half-hour drive away on Saturday. After more conversation, it was determined that he could share a presentation in Mount Pleasant.

Many people sat in awe as Ethan shared different items of his collection and dove into the history behind them. A white house dining room chair from Lincoln’s time, a pair of his reading glasses, and even 5 hairs from the late president, were just some of the items he shared today.

Ethan spoke about the process of proving what is from Lincoln and what is fraud. Apparently, there are more fake items than real items. When asked if he had ever purchased a forgery when he was younger, he responded “I couldn’t afford it!” He stated that many forgeries are around the same price as real items.

He now owns a chair that the Lincoln family brought to the White House. It then went to Abraham’s wife, then his son, before it was sent to a businessman. After that, a school owned the chair before trading it to an antique dealer, where it circulated through multiple antiques dealers before landing in Ethan’s collection. He doesn’t plan on seeing it go through so many hands anymore, as he commented, “I’m taking it to the grave.”

His collection of around 60 items is impressive, yet he would love to continue to watch it grow. The Harlan-Lincoln house has a wide variety of items related to the 16th president. According to Ethan, the glasses on display that were owned by Robert Todd Lincoln are very rare and historic, as he has only seen one or two others.

The Harlan-Lincoln House will resume regular hours in March. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit