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    Did John Dillinger only have $7.81 on him when he was killed by the FBI?

    John Dillinger: A Blood-stained One Dollar Bill Taken from His Remains with Original Envelope Given to the Family by the FBI. A $1 Silver Certificate, Series 1928B, serial number D20718635B with three small areas of bloodstaining. This note has written vertically in ink on the verso, along the left border, "7-22-34 - Johnie", likely by a family member. This was the date of his death and he was known to his family as Johnnie. Accompanying this item is the original 6" x 3.25" kraft envelope, notated as follows in green ink on the front: "John. Dillinger/ 7-23-34/ $7.81", in which the money he had on his person was returned to his father. The dollar bill is in fine condition with several original folds. The envelope is well worn. The balance of the nearly eight dollars was apparently dispersed to various family members through the years. Based on Dillinger's very lucrative bank-robbing career, it is hard to believe that this is all the money he carried with him during a night out on the town. This question is addressed in a letter of provenance for several lots written by his half-sister Frances Helen Dillinger Thompson, included with this lot, in full:

    "This is the watch that John/ H. Dillinger had on him when/ he was killed in Chicago on/ July 22, 1934./ Along with the watch the/ federal men gave my dad,/ An envelope with $7.81/ stating that was all the money/ he had on him./ My father received many/ letters from people that were/ at the scene of the killing,/ and stated there was a large/ amount of money taken off/ the remains by the FBI./ The FBI also gave my/ father a bullet covered almost/ completely red with dried/ blood, and with many/ bullet holes, (white shirt),/ Gray slacks, shoes/ etc. that he had on/ when killed./ The watch box I/ placed this in, was a/ Hamilton watch I gave/ my husband many years/ ago. I put John's watch/ in this box to protect it./ Frances H. Dillinger Thompson (Johns' half-sister)/ Aug, 24, 1997"

    Everyone knows the story of the FBI's killing of John Dillinger outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago and how he was betrayed by the "lady in red," etc. The movie playing that night was Manhattan Melodrama starring Myrna Loy, William Powell, and Clark Gable. Near the end of the film, there is a dramatic scene where Clark Gable's criminal character "Blackie" is being led to the electric chair. He gives advice to another prisoner on the way, "Die the way you lived, all of a sudden. Don't drag it out. Living like that doesn't mean a thing." Those were some of the last words Dillinger heard before his death. It seems likely that he himself might well have subscribed to a similar attitude.

    For more information on the history of this Dillinger lot, please click here.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2009
    12th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 12,761

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