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'Abraham Lincoln assassination' opera glasses sell at auction

Mary Todd Lincoln opera glasses Image copyright Reeman Dansie Auctions
Image caption The opera glasses, since engraved, were supposedly those used by Mary Todd Lincoln on the night of her husband Abraham Lincoln's assassination

A pair of opera glasses reportedly used by former US president Abraham Lincoln's wife on the night he was assassinated have been sold at auction.

Mary Todd Lincoln's engraved ivory binoculars dating to 1865 sold for £9,000.

They were rediscovered as auctioneers cleared items from a house in Suffolk, but their full background is unknown.

Daniel Wright of Reeman Dansie Auctions said they were "a relic of one of the major events of US history".

Image copyright Reeman Dansie Auctions
Image caption The engraving refers to Lincoln as "our beloved President and Leader"

Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC on 14 April 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, while attending a play with his wife.

He was rushed to a nearby hotel with the help of William Kent, who returned to the theatre to discover the murder weapon and - according to the inscription - Mrs Lincoln's opera glasses.

It reads: "Mrs Mary Lincoln left these glasses in the box at Ford's Theatre, Good Friday, April 14th, 1865, when our beloved President and Leader was cruelly assassinated, found by William Kent Esq."

Image copyright Reeman Dansie Auctions
Image caption At least two other pairs of glasses are purported to be those used by Mrs Lincoln

Mr Wright said there were "at least two other pairs" of opera glasses supposedly used by Mrs Lincoln on that night.

With no conclusive proof these are the authentic pair, auctioneers have consulted experts for their views.

Lincoln scholar and author Ed Steers wrote: "There is no doubt in my mind that the inscription is authentic and of the period, leading me to conclude that if the piece is a fabrication it was done a century ago quite cleverly.

"Having seen or handled dozens of alleged artefacts associated with Lincoln and his assassination, all bogus, I have a different feeling about [this] item."

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