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Abraham Lincoln Glasses Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction

Opera Glasses
The pair of opera glasses held by Abraham Lincoln during his assassination in 1865. They are offered by online auction company Nate D. Sanders. Estimate: $500,000-$700,000. Source: Nate D. Sanders via Bloomberg

The opera glasses held by Abraham Lincoln when he was assassinated 147 years ago are coming to the auction block next week.

Los Angeles-based auctioneer Nate D. Sanders estimated that they might fetch $500,000 to $700,000.

Lincoln was fatally shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington on April 14, 1865, while attending “Our American Cousin,” a play starring Laura Keene. During the comedy, actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth entered Lincoln’s box and shot him in the head.

The president’s black enameled and gold glasses were picked up on the street by Captain James M. McCamly, a Washington City Guard who was helping transport Lincoln from the theater to the Petersen House, where the president died hours later.

“You can imagine all the commotion,” said Laura Yntema, auction manager at Sanders. “They probably just fell down as he was being moved across the street to the hospital. They are very well documented. We have James McCamly’s military records and a notarized letter from the McCamly’s family as well.”

Made by German company Gebruder Strausshof Optiker Berlin, the glasses remained in McCamly’s family for three generations.

Magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes Sr. bought them in 1979. The current owner is anonymous. The glasses last came up for sale at Sotheby’s in June 2011, with the estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. There were no takers.

Bids can be placed online or by phone at +1-310-440-2982 through April 30 at 5 p.m. PDT. The current bid is $19,263, according to the auction house website.

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