SEARCH FOR AN ASSASSIN: BROADSIDES ADVERTISED CHASE FOR LINCOLN'S KILLER
Lincoln Assassination Reward broadside sold for $17,152. Photo courtesy of Provenance Auctioneers
The gunshot howled into a room filled with laughter. Some people heard it. Some did not. The derringer was pointed at the back of Lincoln’s head between his left ear and spine.
He never moved. Only his head inclined a bit forward toward his chest. His wife sat laughing in the theater box beside him and turned to look.
At that moment the assassin forced his way between the president and his wife. Maj. Rathbone, sitting next to Mrs. Lincoln jumped up and lunged for the gun. The slayer dropped the weapon and pulled out his knife.
The two men clashed and the attacker bolted to the ledge of the box. “Revenge for the South,” he shouted, jumping to the stage and out the back door.
Mrs. Lincoln screamed. The audience knew something grisly happened.
In a few seconds it was over and history would take an alternate voyage through time. The actor and assassin John Wilkes Booth’s attempt at vindicating the South changed nothing and everything.
After Lincoln died, people demanded the killer be caught. Wanted posters hung throughout the area coaxing help from anyone and everyone.
Eleven days after the assassination and less than 60 miles from Washington, Booth was found behind a weather-beaten tobacco barn. Troops formed a tight ring around the barn and were instructed to fire only if absolutely necessary.
“We’ll give you just five minutes to surrender,” screamed a soldier, “then we’ll set the barn on fire.”
They waited and then torched the barn. Flames cracked and enveloped the building. From outside a shot could be heard and soldiers found a Lt. Baker standing over Booth inside the barn, “He shot himself.”
They laid the body outside on the grass underneath a locust tree. Booth died as the sun rose on Wednesday, April 26, the day the Confederate force, under Gen. Joe Johnston surrendered.
Did he die by his own hand? Was he killed? No one seemed to know for sure until a member of the troop stationed at the rear of the barn spoke up:
“I did it, sir. I shot John Wilkes Booth.” Why did he shoot after being instructed not to? “Providence, sir,” he replied. “Providence directed me to do it. I heard the voice of God.”
A John Wilkes Booth Reward broadside surfaced about 15 years ago in the estate of an old-time Long Island collector. There have been no recent auction appearances of this particular variation until now. Two Midwest collectors battled in Wallington, N.J., at Provenance Auctioneers until the hammer fell on the broadside, $17,152.
This type of ephemeral printing is actually older than book printing. Historians believe that broadsides paint a true picture of the past. It’s a firsthand look, uninterrupted by the historian’s voice, the photographer’s flash or the painter’s brush.
Q. How about old comic books? I came across seven issues of Pizazz, a comic book from 1978. They published a few issues and then went out of business. Can you help? E.S. DeBlander, Cranberry, Pa.
A. Reading about superhuman heroes and funny nincompoops fits into the world of kids ranging in age from 4 to 94. The comic book compulsion often starts early and stays late.
The funnies help us relive the past. They force us grin at imperfection, and sometimes ease the sting of a life filled with too much reality.
Like many collectibles, age is a big consideration. The “Early” period starts with the invention of the newspaper comic strip in 1895. Names like Hogan’s Alley featuring the Yellow Kid-a motley tike in what looks like a yellow nightshirt. Copies of yellowed newspapers featuring these strips are hard to come by today, but choice.
The modern paperbound comic book most of us are familiar with started as an advertising giveaway by Procter and Gamble in 1933. They were called Funnies on Parade. In 1934, newspaper racks started carrying comic books priced at a dime each. This was the Famous Funnies series featuring strips like Joe Palooka. These comic books ran monthly over a 20-year period.
Many collectors prefer the comics dating from the Golden Age that began in 1938 with Action Comics No. 1. Names like Superman and Captain Marvel top the list of this series.
The Silver age comes next featuring the ghouls and super heroes like Spider-Man. Your comic books are worth about $5-10 a piece in good condition.
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