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People in the 18th and 19th centuries collected hair as a keepsake to remind them of loved ones, much as religious people have long kept skull and bone fragments as holy relics. In the world of collecting, what’s old is new again: Hair, clothes and other ephemera belonging to celebrities are hot.

“It’s an old hobby that is making a comeback, and collectors are taking it very seriously,” observes Adrian Roose, a specialist with the London-based auction house Paul Fraser Collectibles. “A one-inch strand of Elvis Presley’s hair will typically sell for $1,600 at auction. The most expensive hair was a clump from the head of Che Guevara—that sold for more than $100,000 a few years back.”

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