Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “What Autographs Are Worth: An Interview with Walter R. Benjamin”
Date of publication: October 1912
Volume number: 7
Issue number: 10
Pagination: 967-72 (excerpt below includes only pages 971-72)
|“What Autographs Are Worth: An Interview with Walter R. Benjamin.” Americana Oct. 1912 v7n10: pp. 967-72.|
|Leon Czolgosz (popular culture).|
|John Wilkes Booth; Charlotte Corday; Leon Czolgosz; Charles J. Guiteau; Abraham Lincoln; John Boyd Thacher.|
What Autographs Are Worth: An Interview with Walter R. Benjamin [excerpt]
“There has been a slump in all
autographs of that period, though the best ones will probably be higher in the
future. Even Wilkes Booth has gone down from the $100 which would have been
paid twenty years ago for one of his letters to the $50 it would bring to-day.
I have one in my possession now from which the signature has been cut. It was
written two or three months before the assassination of Lincoln. When that tragedy
occurred it wasn’t exactly healthy for a man to be suspected of intimacy with
Booth, so the recipient of this letter evidently cut the signature off and destroyed
it. There’s an interesting thing in connection with Wilkes Booth autographs,
and that is that some collectors won’t have one of his signatures in their possession.
They seem to have too deep a hatred of him.
“As for the two other assassins with which this country has been afflicted, you can buy Guiteau’s signature for $10, but you can’t get that of Czolgosz at any price. Guiteau used to write his autograph and sell it for a dollar while he was in jail. Kept himself in pocket money that way. But Czolgosz was kept absolutely secluded. He was not allowed to write anything. He  really was too ignorant to do much of it anyway. After his execution every scrap of his belongings was destroyed. People tried all sorts of schemes to secure something over his signature but the only person to succeed, so far as I know, was the late John Boyd Thacher of Albany. He got something through one of the wardens I think. The Thacher collection had another valuable letter that might come in the same class. It was written by Charlotte Corday and brought $500.