A rare letter written by John Wilkes Booth broke all sorts of records at Skinner’s books and manuscripts sale this past Sunday, November 21, when it sold for $79,900. The letter, dated February 9, 1865, written from Washington, D.C., to Orlando Tompkins of Boston, discussed a range of minor matters including a request for a picture of himself in a black cravat that was later used in his wanted poster. He also noted in closing that he “will get any letter sent to Ford’s Theatre.”
The letter was consigned from Boston area collectors Richard and Kelley Dutman who bought it at Goodspeed’s book shop and it sold to the West Coast dealer Joe Maddalena of Profiles in History. The previous record for a Booth letter was $38,000 set at Christies in 1997.