Just in time for the election, the Lincoln Bedroom is back in the news. An immense Gothic Revival bedstead reportedly commissioned for the bedroom in 1844 (before Lincoln even slept in it) has just been acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art for $450,000. It will be on view after Thanksgiving.

"This is an incredible price for a piece of 19th-century American furniture," said Margaret Caldwell, a dealer in Manhattan who specializes in the field. "You have to remember, this is still only 19th-century furniture. You would be hard-pressed to sell many other pieces for so much."

The Dallas Museum defended its purchase. "This is as close as we've ever gotten to having a state bed in America," said Stephen Harrison, the museum's associate curator of decorative arts. "I know of no other American bed of its scale, and there is nothing like it in any American museum."

The bed is more than 13 feet tall, with elaborate pinnacles, a huge high-backed headboard and a tester whose interior is carved into pyramids. "It originally came with a crimson cover and state pillows," Harrison said. "It's the kind of bed you see in English country houses, saved for a visit from the king or queen."

The bed never made it to the White House. According to Harrison, it was commissioned for the president's bedroom by loyal Whig Party supporters of Henry Clay, who was then running for president. Known as "the Great Compromiser," Clay helped to delay the war between the North and the South for about a decade.

"The Whig Party paid $1,300 for the bed," Harrison said. "Clay was a wonderful orator and senator who ran for the presidency three times. He was a shoo-in in 1844 but managed to lose the election in the final weeks due to his opposition to the annexation of the republic of Texas by the United States."

The bed was part of large suite of Gothic Revival furniture that included a dressing table, an armoire, a cheval mirror, two marble-topped washstands and six chairs. New Orleans Auction Galleries is selling part of the suite — the armoire, washstands and mirror — on Nov. 18. (For information, call 1-800-501-0277.) The seller is Gene Slivka, who until recently owned Rosedown Plantation, a huge estate in St. Francisville, La., where the furniture has been since 1845, Harrison said.

The suite was made for the Lincoln Bedroom, which was then, of course, simply the president's bedroom. "It has 14-foot ceilings," Harrison said. "It's called the Lincoln Bedroom because that's where he slept." (Mary Todd Lincoln bought a Belter bed from Philadelphia for it; that bed is still there.)

The Gothic Revival suite was made by a journeyman Philadelphia cabinetmaker by the name of Crawford Riddell. Riddell is not widely known, even among experts in American furniture of the period. Seth Thayer, a Chicago-based museum consultant who once worked at the Art Institute of Chicago, said: "We don't know that much about him. He was a cabinetmaker who owned a space that he also rented out to other cabinetmakers. They may have helped him on this suite."

Thayer was asked by Slivka to appraise the suite two years ago. He explained that when it did not go to the White House, it was sold to Clay's friend Daniel Turnbull, a wealthy cotton planter who owned Rosedown.

Rosedown Plantation is one of the most historically important houses in the country because it remained intact and in the original family from 1835 to the 1950s. "It makes sense the Turnbulls would have bought the suite, because Martha Turnbull was from Philadelphia, and they spent summers there," Thayer said. "The plantation is 1,000 acres and has 28 acres of historically formal gardens. There used to be a large full-time staff and some 40 gardeners."

When the estate was private but open to the public, some 17,000 people visited it annually. The state of Louisiana recently bought the plantation, which is to be reopened next year after an inventory of its contents is completed.