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    Extremely Rare War-Date John Wilkes Booth Autograph Letter Signed, "J. Wilkes Booth," Four pages, 5" x 8", St. Joseph, Missouri, January 2, 1864, to "Kim"-- likely Moses Kimball of New York, an entertainment entrepreneur and a Booth family friend. This chatty, apolitical letter reveals that benign aspect of Booth's personality which was probably reserved for his intimates. Writing in Missouri while on a frigid mid-winter theatrical tour, Booth devotes the main body of his letter to a colorful account of the loss and destruction of his beloved whiskey flask. It reads in full: "Dear Kim Here I am snowed in again. And God knows when I shall be able to get away. I have telegraphed St. Louis for them not to expect me. It seems to me that some of my old luck has returned to hunt me down. I hope you passed a delightful New Year. You and your kind lady, but I fear not. I will give you a slight glimpse of mine. I arrived at Fort with one ear frost-bitten. I saw our friends there had a ---, well, I won't say what. And then after giving my boy my flask to keep for me, I started for a run and made the river (four miles) on foot. I ran without a stop, all the way. I then found my boy had lost that treasured flask. I had to pay five dollars for a bare-backed horse to hunt for it. I returned within sight of the Fort and judge of my dismay upon arriving to see a waggon just crush my best friend, but I kissed him in his last moments by pressing the snow, to my lips, over which he had spilled his noble blood. I got back to the river in time to help cut the ice that the boat might come to the shore. And after a sea of troubles, reached this Hotel a dead man. Got to bed as soon as I could where I have been ever since. Am better now though and will I expect get up tomorrow. You must excuse this scrawl. I am the worst letter writer alive, and I am trying to get through this on a cold bed. Give my best wishes to Mrs. Kimbal and ask her to forgive me for keeping her husband out so late at night. I guess she is glad I am gone. We may get away from here Monday or tomorrow, we can-not tell. Hope you will remember me to all my friends, and that you will look over this poorly written letter. I remain Yours truly,". John Wilkes Booth, although a non-combatant during the Civil War, was pathologically devoted to the Confederate cause and yearned to strike a blow on Dixie's behalf. His fanciful schemes culminated, of course, in the very real assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Letters written by Booth are quite rare with this one being especially desirable given its late date, bold signature and overall theatrical tone. The letter also has an excellent provenance as it was sold in 1978 by Sotheby Parke Bernet when that firm liquidated the fabulous Sang Collection of Americana. Even light toning, a few small areas of ink pooling (one with a partial fingerprint!), and a very few minute edge splits. Mailing folds as expected, else fine condition.

    ‡ The owner placed a late bid on this unreserved lot and repurchased it, subject to applicable commission.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2006
    1st-2nd Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 10,016

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