Two tickets to the infamous performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre on the night that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated were recently sold at auction. The green paper tickets, creased and clipped in the corner, bear the seat numbers D 41 and 42. Estimated to sell for over $100,000, the tickets ended up being purchased for an impressive $262,500 by an anonymous buyer. These tickets, along with another ticket in a collection at Harvard, are believed to be the only three surviving tickets from that evening. All of them bear the faint stamp reading “Ford’s Theatre, APR 14, 1865, This Night Only.” Although it’s unknown who the tickets belonged to, they were marked as complimentary in the envelope that held them.
The front-row tickets would not have allowed the original theatergoers to witness John Wilkes Booth shooting Lincoln, but they would have seen him escape by leaping from the box onto the stage. According to Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, these seats “allowed the original theatergoers to witness a tragic performance that changed the course of our nation.” The tickets were last sold in 2002 as part of a collection owned by Malcolm Forbes, the late publisher of Forbes magazine. At that time, they fetched a price of $83,650.
In addition to the tickets, another piece of Lincoln memorabilia sold at the auction for an even higher price. A first edition book containing the 1858 debates between Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, signed by Lincoln himself for his former law apprentice, sold for $593,750. The auction house is honored to have been part of preserving and sharing these remarkable pieces of American history.