Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    The Earliest Known Signature of John Wilkes Booth, penned in his copy of The History of Peter the Great . . . from the French of Voltaire, by Smollett (New York: 1847), 16mo, original green-and-black-patterned blindstamped cloth, gilt title on spine; Volume I (only). The book is boldly signed in full on the inside front cover "John Wilkes Booth / Sept 1848" in two lines, both sketchily underlined for emphasis. We know of no earlier autograph of the future actor and assassin; this example was written at the age of 10-1/2, and displays youthful exuberance as well as a seeming pride in possession. Wilkes had somewhat indifferent schooling, did not take to such as he had, and to a great extent was self-taught from his father's extensive library. Miscellaneous pencil markings and words scattered through the text appear to have been made by Mary Ann Booth, Wilkes's mother. The ticket of A. P. Burt's Cheap Bookstore, Baltimore, is pasted in the upper left corner of the inside front cover, which also bears three blobs of wax and paper remnants (one near, but all clear, of Booth's very fine, dark signature). Spine ends chipped and frayed, corners bumped, but very good and sound. This volume is said to have come into the hands of a Mrs. Sasse, a friend of Mary Ann Booth, and descended in her family.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,136

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

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    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 2020 June 7 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage Auctions and Mr. Chad Reingold were...professional and courteous in all transactions and provided outstanding service in answering my many emails. I recommend them at the highest level.
    Killy M.,
    Melbourne Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 8 Civil War, Militaria, Arms & Armor Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 8 Civil War, Militaria, Arms & Armor Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $950,931