MBA Seattle to auction rare 1865 Lincoln assassination reward poster

One of approximately 50 surviving examples of a Lincoln assassination reward poster issued in 1865. It may be the only extant example of its type issued by the State of Maryland. Auction estimate: $10,000-$20,000. MBA Seattle Auction image


SEATTLE – MBA Seattle will auction an extraordinary historical rarity on July 20, an original 1865 wanted poster advertising a $100,000 total reward for the capture of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and his accomplices.

Originally distributed by all existing states to their counties following a telegraphic order from Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, broadsides of this type announced that $50,000 would be paid for Booth’s apprehension and $25,000 each for G.A. Atzerot, aka “Port Tobacco,” and David C. Harold.

One of approximately 50 known examples to have survived the last 152 years, the broadside in MBA Seattle’s sale was among those distributed on April 20, 1865 by the State of Maryland’s Executive Department in Annapolis. It may be the only one of its type issued by Maryland that is still in existence.

“We have full provenance linking it to the sheriff to whom it was originally given in 1865,” said Michael Mroczek, owner of MBA Seattle. “It comes directly from a family that has owned it for several successive generations by descent.”

The Maryland connection is significant, Mroczek said. “That’s the state Booth ran to after the assassination. He was captured six days after this poster was issued.”

The broadside measures 19.25 x 12 inches and is inscribed in ink on verso: “To Shff McMahan.” McMahan held several government positions during his career, including postmaster of Fowling Creek, Caroline County, Md., in 1862; and postmaster of New Hope, Caroline County, Md., in 1869. Documents verifying McMahan’s employment are included in the group lot containing the reward poster.

Absentee and Internet live bidding are available through The pre-sale estimate is $10,000-$20,000.