Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Henry Rathbone Autograph Signature, "H. R. Rathbone / Bvt Major U.S.A.", on a slip about 2.25" x 6". A fine-looking example which bears a period identification inked underneath. Identification reads "This man was in the box at the theatre with President Lincoln the night he was assassinated". Major Rathbone was a stepson of Lincoln's friend, Senator Ira Harris of New York, and stepbrother to the senator's daughter Clara. The two young people accompanied President and Mrs. Lincoln to Ford's Theatre on the night of 14 April 1865 when other invitees had declined. A moment after the fatal shot Rathbone tried to seize Booth, who used a dagger to severely slash his arm. Nevertheless Rathbone managed to escort Mary Lincoln over to the Petersen House, where he fainted from loss of blood. Rathbone married Clara in 1867, was discharged from the army at his own request soon after, and became U.S. Consul at Hanover, Germany, in 1882. Just before Christmas 1883 he shot Clara, stabbed her to death, then stabbed himself in the chest. Convicted of murder, he spent his remaining days in a German asylum for the criminally insane, where he died in 1911. Rathbone is said to have suffered from the thought that he might have saved Lincoln's life and exhibited erratic behavior for some years. His personal tragedy was certainly a reflection, and may in some degree have been a consequence, of the public one into which he had been thrust years before. Near very fine.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,749

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold on Nov 20, 2008 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 October 20 Manuscripts Signature Auction.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage has gone above and beyond my expectations in handling all of my transactions in a thoroughly professional manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone worldwide for the exemplary auction and valuation services they provide.
    Richard H.,
    Corsicana, TX
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search