[LINCOLN, Abraham -- ASSASSINATION]. War Department, Washington, April 20, 1865. $100,000 Reward! The Murderer of our Late Beloved President, Abraham Lincoln, is still at large. $50,000 Reward will be paid $25,000 Reward Will be paid for the apprehension of John H. Surratt, one of Booth's Accomplices. $25,000 Reward will be paid for... David C. Herold, another of Booth's accomplices. ...Let the stain of innocent blood be removed from the land by the arrest and punishment of the murderers.. [signed:] Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. [Washington, D.C.], 20 April 1865. (Kunhardt & Kunhardt, Twenty Days, p.106; Swanson and Weinberg, Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution, p. 50, fig.38).
Folio (22 x 12 in.), three albumen photos (Surratt, Booth, Herold, each 3¼ x 2¼ in.), backed with paper, wrinkled, torn and worn at edges with loss of two words ("THOUSAND DOLLARS") at bottom, other small losses at folds.
"LET THE STAIN OF INNOCENT BLOOD BE REMOVED FROM THE LAND". When this--the most famous reward poster in American history--was circulated, days after the first presidential assassination, only John Wilkes Booth, Herold and Surratt had been positively identified as conspirators in the murderous plot. Herold escaped with Booth to Virginia, where, six days after this poster, they were surrounded by a detachment of Union soldiers in a tobacco barn. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused to give himself up and was fatally shot. (Herold was subsequently tried, convicted and executed with other conspirators on 6 June 1865. Surratt escaped to Europe but was brought back for trial in 1867.)
The broadside is known in two separate printings (the present corresponds to the second printing, first issue). All were printed within a very brief time. Many copies lack the albumen photographs of the conspirators.
THE THREE KNOWN FORMS OF THIS HISTORIC POSTER
First printing. No provision for mounted photographs at the top. The description of Booth reads "and wears a heavy black mustache"; of Herold reads "a little, chunky man, quite a youth, and wears a very thin moustache."
Second printing, first issue: From a new setting of type, with three-sided woodcut frames at top for photographs. Description of Booth, still reads "and wears a heavy, black moustache." The description of "David C. Harold" (sic) is more detailed, requiring three lines. A two-line "Notice" regarding other rewards is added at the bottom.
Second printing, second issue. Same setting of type as the preceding, but Booth's description reads: "and wears a mustache, which there is some reason to believe has been shaved off."
The most recent copy of this dramatic assassination poster at auction was Christie's, 14 June 2005, lot 337, $72,000.