Getty Images/Nate D. Sanders Auctions
- A “wanted” poster for Abraham Lincoln’s killers, including John Wilkes Booth, was sold at auction.
- It was printed on April 20, 1865, six days after Lincoln died, and advertises a $100,000 reward.
- It’s the first time the poster has been sold, with the winning bidder paying $166,375 Thursday.
A rare “wanted” poster advertising cash rewards for Abraham Lincoln’s killers sold for just over $166,375 at auction Thursday.
Bids started at $100,000 with only four people making offers, according to a press release by Nate D. Sanders Auctions.
Printed by the War Department on April 20, 1865, the poster advertises a total of $100,000 (about $1.8 million today) in reward for the capture of those responsible for killing Lincoln six days earlier.
John Wilkes Booth fatally shot the president at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, with the help of two accomplices.
For Booth’s capture, the department would pay $50,000. For his accomplices, John Surratt and David Herold (misspelled as “Harold”), it offered an additional $25,000 each for their capture.
Booth is described as “Five Feet 7 or 8 inches high” with a “slender build” and “a heavy black moustache.” Surrat is described as “a slim man” with “hair rather thin and dark” and “eyes rather light.” Herold is described as “a little chunky man” with a “thin moustache.”
John Wilkes Booth.
Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress
A Union soldier found Booth hiding in a barn in northern Virginia and shot him six days after the poster was printed. Herold surrendered and was sentenced to death by hanging. Surrat, who fled to Canada, then Europe and Egypt, was extradited but it led to a mistrial and he was released.
The poster was passed down in the same family, and had never been sold. The auction house described the poster as a “museum-worthy piece.”
“Let the stain of innocent blood be removed from the land by the arrest and punishment of the murderers,” the poster stated. “All good citizens are exhorted to aid public justice on this occasion. Every man should consider his own conscience charged with this solemn duty, and rest neither night nor day until it be accomplished.”
It was signed by Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War at the time.