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Lincoln assassination balcony tickets sell for $262k at auction

By Jake Beardslee · September 26, 2023

In brief…

  • Two balcony tickets from the night of Abraham Lincoln's assassination were auctiohed for $262,500 this weekend.
  • The tickets' seats offered a clear view of the president's box across the theater.
  • A Lincoln-signed book from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates was also auctioned for nearly $594,000.
Ford Theater tickets from the night of 1865 Lincoln's assassination in 1865 and a signed Lincoln book were auctioned for total of nearly $1 million.  RR Auction/

Two front-row balcony tickets from the fateful night of April 14, 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, sold this weekend at auction for $262,500.

The tickets are for seats 41 and 42 in the dress circle section of Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C., where Lincoln was shot by Confederate holdout John Wilkes Booth while watching a performance of “Our American Cousin.”

The trapezoid-shaped tickets, which are believed to have had a corner clipped off when taken at admission, offered the patrons an unobstructed view of the president’s seat from across the theater, according to the Associated Press.

“The Presidential box occupied by the Lincolns was also located on the dress circle, more or less directly across from the front row seats represented by these two tickets,” according to the auction house RR Auction.

The tickets last sold at auction in 2002 for $83,650. RR Auction said this type of ticket from the fateful performance is “exceedingly rare.” No other examples have appeared at auction since 2002.

The authenticity of the tickets was verified by comparing them to another rare ticket from that night, which is housed at Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

The $262,500 tickets were not the most expensive seats in the theater that night. Orchestra seats went for $1 each, while the dress circle tickets cost 75 cents. Family circle tickets were a steal at 25 cents a piece.

After shooting Lincoln at point-blank range, Booth jumped onto the stage, broke his leg, and shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” - Thus always to tyrants! in Latin - before escaping on horseback. He was hunted down and killed 12 days later.

The assassination was part of a larger plot to murder Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward. Booth was the only conspirator who completed his homicidal mission.

In addition to the Lincoln assassination tickets, a Lincoln-autographed first edition of the Lincoln-Douglas debates sold at Saturday’s auction for nearly $594,000.