President Lincoln's Assassination Opera Glasses
President Lincoln's Assassination Opera Glasses President Lincoln's Assassination Opera Glasses President Lincoln's Assassination Opera Glasses President Lincoln's Assassination Opera Glasses
President Lincoln's Assassination Opera Glasses

President Lincoln's Assassination Opera Glasses

  • These are the opera glasses President Lincoln used the night he was assassinated
  • The glasses are a perfect fit to the opera glass case currently held at Ford's Theater museum
  • A complete provenance and documentation accompany this historical artifact
  • These glasses are the most important presidential artifact not currently in a museum
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Item No. 30-8528
$795,000
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description
The final personal belonging to be touched by President Abraham Lincoln, these opera glasses were used by our nation's 16th Commander-in-Chief the ill-fated evening he was assassinated at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.

The glasses are believed to have been in the President's hands or lap the moment members of the Washington City Guard carried the wounded leader from the theater to the room in the Peterson House across the street where he died. One of the first people to reach Lincoln after the fatal shot was Guard member Captain James M. McCamly. When he helped pick up the President from his theater box, he had noticed something fell from Lincoln's body and hit the ground, and the Captain instinctively picked it up and placed it in his pocket in order to attend to Lincoln. The object was these glasses.

McCamly had intended to return the glasses, but that seemed trivial compared to the loss of the nation's President in the midst of Civil War, and the historical significance of the glasses were soon lost for a period of time. The glasses were passed through the McCamly family for several generations, beginning with the Captain's widow who gave them to her granddaughter, Mrs. Sarah M. Hartt. Mrs. Hartt then passed them to her son, Robert C. Hartt, who sold them in 1968 to the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago. It would be at this time the investigation would begin into the glasses' history and provenance, which is incredibly well documented.

Margaret Klapthor, the then-Associate Curator of Political History at the Smithsonian, validated the age, materials and style of the opera glasses, proving they were the same used by gentlemen of Lincoln's period. Permission was soon secured to compare the glasses to the original carrying case held by Ford's Theater Museum. Upon examination, these opera glasses fit the case perfectly, proving these were indeed Lincoln's opera glasses.

The glasses were then sold to collector Malcolm Forbes, who prominently displayed them at his Fifth Avenue museum in New York. In 2002, they were sold at a Christie's auction (with commissions, taxes, insurance, etc.) for a total of $515,000 to the private collector from whom we have acquired these fascinating relics.

Accompanied by their complete provenance and extensive documentation, these glasses are the most important Lincoln artifact in existence that's not presently in a museum. Iconic, intriguing and chilling, these opera glasses tell the story of the last moments of President Lincoln's legendary life.

The glasses are housed in a protective glass-dome display with a plaque inscribed: "President Abraham Lincoln's Opera-Glasses / Which he used on the night of his / Assassination at Ford's Theater, April 14, 1865"

The glasses are stamped “Gebruder Strausshof Optiker Berlin”

German, 19th Century

Display: 10" diameter x 13" high
specifications
Period: 19th Century
Origin:America
Type:Historical Memorabilia
Diameter:10 Inches
Height:13 Inches
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