Dear Helaine and Joe:
Hello. I came across a page from the New York Herald announcing the assassination of Abe Lincoln. I have included several pictures of the item. I would like to know about it and its value.
Dear M. B.
We answered a similar question some 7 1/2 years ago, but think we can revisit the subject without being redundant. While doing our research, we discovered a specialist in the area who noted he had seen 10,000 of the New York Herald newspapers and not one of them was genuine.
During our career, we have seen more than a few of these ourselves and none of them have been the real thing either. The New York Herald did not have circulation much beyond New York City, so surviving copies can be hard to find.
The newspaper was printed on good rag-based stock, which some think was confiscated from a Confederate ship trying to run the blockade at Wilmington, N.C. It does not yellow or crumble with age, while the reprints were generally printed on newsprint stock, which does yellow, crumble and split with age. The first reprint is said to have been done in 1871, which makes it almost 150 years old.
Reprints were made regularly through 1908 and from there to the present time where they can be purchased at the Ford's Theater – the site of the Lincoln assassination – gift shop. But the early reprints have often been passed down through families as the genuine article.
We hear many stories about how the newspaper belonged to great-great-grandaddy who fought in the Civil War so it must be genuine, but it turns out to be a reprint worth somewhere between $50 and $150 according to auction results. Interestingly, there were a number of editions of the New York Herald on April 15, 1865.
The first was the 2 a.m. regular edition, followed by the 3 a.m. special edition, the 10 a.m. special edition and the 2 p.m. Inauguration edition that chronicled the Inauguration of Andrew Johnson. Reportedly, there was also a 10 a.m. record edition and a 3:30 p.m. special edition.
But there was no 8:10 edition like the one in today's question. In addition, there was no edition of the New York Herald that had a drawing of a beardless Abraham Lincoln on the front page. All these are fakes.
Other signs of fakes include a notation near the top of the page that reads, "Whole Number 10459." Originals have "Whole Number 10456." Some reprints do have the correct 10456 number on them, but if the number is 10459, it is definitely a fake.
The 8:10 edition M. B. owns was thought to be genuine for some time, but in 1972, the Library of Congress declared it to be bogus. Earlier, we reported a $50 to $150 price at auction, but the prices may have been realized due to confusion about authenticity and may not be replicable when the facts are known.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you'd like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at email@example.com. If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus, with your inquiry.