Abraham Lincoln Wanted Poster on Sale

October 3, 2006 at 1:49 pm 15 comments

One of the two surviving wanted posters that were issued after the murder of Abraham Lincoln, failed to sell on EBay even after bidding reached $4,150. The poster was issued in 1856 by the War Department of the United States, five days after the president was assassinated. The reward for capture of John Wilkes Booth was set at $100,000; while lesser rewards are offered for his accomplices.

Bidding for the poster started at $5, and hotted up before the end of the sale, but unfortunately failed to reach the seller’s reserve price. I guess if anyone is still interested, they could approach the seller directly. The details of the attempted sale can be found here.


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Online Bookselling British Museum to police EBay

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul Romaine  |  October 9, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    Oy! (As we say in New York.) “1-powerseller” is going to have one of only two War Department reward broadsides? Where were the big auction houses and dealers? Shouldn’t they be beating down the door? Oh and get this: the seller guarantees the authenticity and then limits the guarantee (“WE WILL GIVE THE WINNING BIDDER 14 DAYS TO GET AUTHENTICATED OR 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEED!”) If it takes longer than 14 days, I guess you’re out of luck. I see that 1-powerseller’s stock in trade is usually signed sports memorabilia.

    I’m not an expert in the Lincoln reward broadsides, but I’ve seen catalog descriptions in Sothebys-New York and Christies-New York. There are many more than two copies; many versions have space for the photographs of the assassins (typically cartes de visite). They are rare and valuable but not terribly scarce (i.e., you’ll see a copy in good condition selling every 2-4 years). More to the point, the sheet of those broadsides is larger than legal size and the paper usually looks better than this sheet. I think the eBay item is a 20th C facsimile worth about $4-50. (I believe that I saw facsimiles like this one at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.) One of the genuine broadsides can sell for $40,000-170,000, depending on rarity, whether there are photographs, and overall condition.

    It’s a shame that bidding went so high for what appears to be a later facsimile.

  • 2. rarebookblog  |  October 9, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for your comments Paul! Being more of a techie than a dealer does mean that I’m not the hottest bookie when it comes to finding rare artefacts online. Its really good to have some professional feedback on this sort of information as I’ll be a lot more careful about the way that I word future articles like this! 😉

    It also serves as a lesson to anybody out there that is readily trading on ebay. Just because something looks like a great deal doesn’t mean a whole lot. Its good to get a professional opinion before you dive in.

  • 3. Paul Romaine  |  October 10, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    As buyers we learn by listening, reading and socializing, and eventually you learn. (I pick up an amazing amount of information when socializing at exhibit openings or going to book fairs–people say things that they would never, ever write on the net.) Despite costs, I do think the new collector really should meet the established dealers and attend book fairs and read the dealer and auction catalogues carefully. Join the membership groups like the bibliophile or manuscript or subject collectors and learn the gossip. A lot of that information is not online (and when it is online, it’s restricted to members-only–like the ABAA listserv–but you might hear things from members.) It never hurts to look for comparables in the auction catalogues. (American Book Prices Current, soon to end its run of volumes and CD-ROMs, is still a good way to check prices and then locate items in auction catalogues. Then a trip to a rare book library holding those catalogues.)

    eBay isn’t the only source of fakes and facsimiles. A prominent and respected New York Auction house sometimes turns up forgeries in its Americana (they’re *very* good fakes, so even dealers are sometimes confused), but a knowledge of forgers and of facsimile will immediately make a person suspicious, so it pays to read the older literature: in Americana, Charles Hamilton, Kenneth Rendell, Joe Nickel, Tom Taylor (for Texana/western Americana) and the voluminous books on the Mormon forger Mark Hoffman (possibly the best American manuscript forger since the 1920s) among others, and the Library of Congress bulletin on common facsimiles of famous documents and newspapers. (There’s an extended article by Leonard Rappaport [I beleive] in American Archivist, 1970 or 1972, findable in many libraries.)

    Incidentally, many librarians will refuse to authenticate documents because they feel that they cannot place either their employer or themselves in jeopardy if the seller threatens legal action. (It’s happened.)


  • 4. jerry thompson  |  February 3, 2007 at 1:04 am

    i have a poster of the same but no pics on top real april 14 1865 i want to sell it has some damage but clean and crisp also have other 1860’s posters abe poster approx 12″x20″

  • 5. markofando  |  October 2, 2007 at 7:56 am

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    Check out the video they have on the page.


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  • 6. elaine  |  April 23, 2008 at 12:57 am

    i know someone with a wanted poster for john wilkes booth but it has no pictures but it does have acopy of the program at the side . is it worth anything?

  • 7. robin speaker  |  April 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I found a wanted poster for john wilkes booth and on the bottom it says from the chicago historicl society.??

  • 8. wttailhunter  |  April 26, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I have a wanted poster that has the copy of the program from fords theatre on the left side. the poster is complete and crisp. it has no markings from any historical society or anything of the sort I would just like to find out how to find out if it is infact the real thing. It was found in the wall of a house i purchased. the place was built in the late 1800s. so im curious.

  • 9. George  |  February 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Hello my name is George and I currently live in Texas, I was wondering how I can go about seeing if the wanted poster I have has any value to it. I bought it about 16 yr’s ago and ever since I’ve had it with me. Could you tell me if the one I have is real or not, is there anything I should look at to determine if it’s real?

    Your welcome to e-mail me anytime and let me know if or what I should do with it.

    George (Texas)

    • 10. robert miller  |  March 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      hi george,if the size is other than about 12×22.5 its fake
      if the text differs from the one in the national musem[viewable online] its a fake
      if it apears to be parchment..its a fake
      if the letters T and E do not have verticle returns its a fake
      if the paper is dark and crumpling it is a fake

  • 11. Amanda hart  |  May 29, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Robert miller my name is Amanda hart I. Think we might have an original 1865 Lincoln reward poster its been in the family for years please email me at Amanda_n_jesse1987@hotmail.com and I will send you a picture maybe you can help me figure out if it’d real thanks

  • 12. David Arnold  |  July 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I have an old Billy the Kid poster as well as some great color broadsides. I am thinking about selling one or more does anyone have any suggestions

  • 13. tom  |  December 23, 2014 at 5:26 am

    I have a copy of the wanted poster that is being describe here and mine is so old that it looks just like the constatuition of the united states and I know for a fact that mine aint a fake I found it in a wall in a old barn like structure with a date 1862 on the stone foundation 5 miles from the civil war train tunnel hill in Coshocton county Coshocton ohio,,

  • 14. shane  |  June 5, 2015 at 3:47 am

    he died april 15,1865,not 1856,the guy on pawn stars had one of the originals,he wanted,$180.000

  • 15. Gary l. Finks  |  October 29, 2015 at 1:58 am

    I myself just recently acquired and now is in my posetion along with a (Mulligan’s brigade! last chance to avoid the draft!) Poster I think it’s real . not in the most perfect condition 80-85% fully intact minus the separation it to half’s it from being folded and stored so many times and the paper is so frale it seems like its just gonna start crumbling .so if you can help me get these to the right people so my mom and I can can live a somewhat better life than now please respond o r send someone to 1540 west baseline street sanbernardino California 92411 apartment #301 god willing you see this and whaist no time contacting me at 909 676 0085 and Email me at gflynation2006@gmail.com . thank you.


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