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    [John Wilkes Booth] Collapsing Stage Dagger, Owned and Used by John Wilkes Booth. Consists of a large, round, hollow hilt, made of two joined pieces of what appears to be brass-washed tin, with a wide brass guard and iron knife blade; the hilt is designed to have an inner spring mechanism that allows the blade to retreat into it, thus making it appear to an audience that the blade is actually sinking into a victim. While realistic, the springs in such daggers sometimes failed, giving both actors and audience more of a thrill than they bargained for.

    This dagger descended in the family of Wilkes's youngest brother, Joseph A. Booth, and is said to have been used not only by Wilkes but by their famous father, Junius Brutus Booth. Its somewhat unsophisticated manufacture argues for an early date and thus its origin with the elder Booth. With a typed letter of provenance signed by Franklyn Lenthall, curator of the Boothbay Theatre Museum in Boothbay, Maine transferring ownership to Dr. John K. Lattimer. The dagger is listed thus: "The Booth Family claim this dagger was definitely used by John Wilkes and possibly by the father..."

    Provenance: Franklyn Lenthall, curator of the Boothbay (Maine) Theatre Museum, 1988.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,652

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