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Tickets to Ford’s Theatre on night of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination sell for $262,500, Boston-based auction house says

Front-row balcony tickets to Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln, were sold at auction for $262,500, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, according to RR Auction.Nikki Brickett/Associated Press

A Boston-based auction house sold a pair of tickets to a performance that President Abraham Lincoln attended on the night of his assassination in 1865 for $262,500, the company said.

RR Auction said on its website that the recent sale easily outpaced the presale estimate of $100,000-plus. The buyer was not identified.

The tickets were “original front-row balcony tickets” for the April 14, 1865, performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Lincoln was in attendance that night when he was fatally shot by actor John Wilkes Booth.

“The tickets are in very good condition, with fragile central vertical folds, some light creasing, and one with a chipped lower corner,” the company said in a statement. “The circular April 14th-dated stamp is an exact match to those seen on known, authentic tickets: foremost, a used ticket stub in the collection of Harvard University’s Houghton Library, bequest by Evert Jansen Wendell in 1918.”

The ticket holders would have had a clear view of Lincoln’s slaying, the company said.

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“The holders of these tickets, seated more or less directly across from the president’s box, would have had a perfect view of the harrowing events,” the auction house said. “During the third act, Booth entered the president’s box from the rear, fired a bullet into the back of his head, and vaulted over the railing onto the stage.”

After a medical examination by Dr. Charles Leale, Lincoln’s body was carried to a bedroom in the nearby Petersen House, where the president was pronounced dead at 7:22 the following morning, according to the Library of Congress.

“At his bedside, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton remarks, ‘Now he belongs to the ages,’” the Library of Congress says on its website.

Booth died 12 days later at a Virginia farm, which authorities had set ablaze in an effort to make him surrender.

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Ford’s Theater tickets from the night of Lincoln’s death aren’t widely available, the company said.

“This type of Ford’s Theatre ticket for April 14, 1865, is exceedingly rare—auction records reveal no other examples offered since their original sale as part of the Forbes Collection in 2002,” the company said.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.