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    John Wilkes Booth's Sleeveless Leather Jacket. Technically known as a "jerkin" -- a close-fitting, hip-length jacket -- this was part of the actor's theatrical wardrobe. Jerkins were common garb in the 17th and 18th centuries, the time setting of a number of the roles in which Booth played. The jerkin is hand sewn and still bears five of its original metal ornamental buttons. It is accompanied by a small card bearing an autograph note signed by McKee Rankin stating that "This leather 'Hawbuck' or jacket was worn in several characters by John Wilkes Booth and came into my possession after his death and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln." Rankin (1844-1914), a prominent Canadian-born actor, manager, acting teacher, and playwright (one of his works was Abraham Lincoln) married Kitty Blanchard, who as a member of the company acted with Booth during his engagement in Louisville, Kentucky, in January 1864. Her extensive reminiscences of him were published in the American Magazine for January 1909. Rather worn, with some tears and small losses, but basically very fine for a garment of this material, age and use, and an incredibly rare survival. Some years after John Wilkes's death his brother Edwin managed to gain possession of - and completely incinerate -- his personal effects, including virtually all of his theatrical wardrobe. This may be the only, and it is certainly the best authenticated, piece of John Wilkes Booth's stage clothing in existence.

    : Rankin; subsequently in the "Davenport collection"; Turner, lot 91.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,976

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