The Opera Glasses owned and held by Abraham Lincoln at the hour of his assassination on 14 April 1865 at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. are going under auction next week. Los Angeles-based auctioneer Nate D. Sanders estimated that they might fetch $500,000 to $700,000. Lincoln carried the opera glasses to a showing of the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington on 14th April, 1865, when John Wilkes Booth burst into the president’s theater box and shot him in the head with a pistol at close range.
Made with black enamel and gold, the German-manufactured opera glasses were recovered by Captain James M McCamly, a Washington City Guard while helping transport the fatally injured president to nearby Petersen House, where he died.
The glasses remained in McCamly’s family for three generations, the auction house said in a press release. In 1968, the Ford’s Theatre National Park Collection informed McCamly’s great-grandson that they housed the carrying case into which these glasses fit ‘precisely. Magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes Sr. bought them in 1979.
Gebruder Strausshof Optiker, Berlin magnification glasses measure 1.5” high, 4” across at their widest point, and 3.75” in length when fully extended. Each ocular tube contains a pair of glass lenses measuring .5” and 1.5” in diameter with a late-turned threaded eyepiece. Central spindle contains focus adjustment wheel.
The auction will be held on April 30, and bids can be placed by phone or online. The current bid is just above $250,000 according to the auction house website.