How much would you pay for two tickets to the April 14, 1865 performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre?
That was the question of the moment when auction house RR Auction put the historical tickets up for bidding. It is believed that there are only three existing ticket stubs from the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in the theater’s presidential box, so these two tickets were expected to draw lots of attention…and high bids.
And they did. The tickets ended up going to an anonymous buyer for $262,500. The green paper tickets are clipped on the side (possibly by the doorman who took the tickets as the unknown guests arrived at the theater), and they are for front-row balcony seats D 41 and 42 in the theater’s dress circle.
This means that the owners of these tickets would have been at the same level as the presidential box where Lincoln was sitting beside his wife Mary Todd and other guests. According to RR Auction, the angle of the seats mean the ticket holders would not have witnessed the shooting as it occurred, but they would have likely seen shooter John Wilkes Booth as he leapt from the second box onto the stage below.
“These front-row seats to history allowed the original theatergoers to witness a tragic performance that changed the course of our nation. We’re honored to have played a part in preserving and sharing this remarkable piece of American history,” said RR’s executive vice president Bobby Livingston in a statement.
The only other known Ford’s Theatre ticket from the night Lincoln was assassinated resides in the Houghton Library at Harvard University.
In addition to the Ford’s Theatre tickets, a historical first edition of the Lincoln-Douglas debates was also auctioned. The book was signed by none other than President Lincoln himself and was sold for a winning bid of $593,750.
Craving your own brush with history? You can take a virtual tour of Ford’s Theatre here.
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