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Effort to buy McKinley's wife's tiara from pawn shop puts Ohio museum on fundraising blitz

The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in northeast Ohio is hurriedly fundraising in hopes of buying a tiara that once belonged to President William McKinley's wife.

The owners of Ida McKinley's diamond-accented headpiece sold it to Gold & Silver Pawn, the Las Vegas pawn shop featured in the History Channel show "Pawn Stars," the Akron Beacon Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1eec7yg ). Shop co-owner Rick Harrison has offered to sell the piece to the Canton museum for $43,000, the amount he paid for it.

"It's been appraised at $75,000, so it's a good deal," museum curator Kim Kenney said. The piece has a metal band with detachable diamond wings that could be worn instead as brooches.

The catch is that the offer expires June 24. The nonprofit museum is not a federally funded presidential library, and it does not have a budget for acquisitions, so it is soliciting donations in an effort to purchase the tiara.

The facility had borrowed the tiara previously to display for special events but was caught off guard by the sale to the pawn shop and initially was told the shop wouldn't sell the headpiece, Kenney said.

She said Harrison then called last month offering to sell it, and the museum hasn't yet hashed out exactly how to go about the urgent fundraising blitz.

"We never do this," Kenney said. "This is extraordinary for us."

Ida McKinley, a Canton native, died in 1907, and the headpiece was then passed down in her sister's family, the newspaper said.

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Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, http://www.ohio.com

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