Fine Books & Collections

This month marked the 199th anniversary of Abraham Lincolnís birth. Inspired by the milestone, Scott Brown, the editor of Fine Books & Collections magazine, has selected a rare book about Lincolnís tragic assassination as the pick of the month.

The Assassination and History of the Conspiracy

The Assassination and History of the Conspiracy, a Complete Digest of the Whole Affair from Its Inception to Its Culmination, Sketches of the Principal Characters, Reports of the Obsequies, etc.

A very near fine copy, preserving the original wrappers (paper covers).

Publisher: Cincinnati: J. R. Hawley & Co.
Publication Date: 1865
Binding: Paper wrappers, with a protective leatherette cover
Edition: First Edition

Find this Copy

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, shocked the people of the United States. Newspapers printed black borders around their front pages and mementos of the great man were issues all over the Northern states. (His death was greeted with less sorrow in the South.) One of the first books published about the assassination appeared in Cincinnati under the title The Assassination and History of the Conspiracy. A second edition (though not labeled as such) came out during the same year, as did a translation into German, presumably for the immigrant population in the Midwest.

John LaPine, of Printers Row Fine and Rare Books in Chicago, Illinois, has a copy of the first edition. He observes that "this book bears all the production hallmarks of a piece that was cobbled together quickly to satisfy an immediate market demand." It is badly printedó"the signatures are oversewn; the register is poorly aligned; the full-page engravings are integral leaves; and the deep bite of the type suggests that the paper was not properly dampened before printing." The page numbering is off, too, a frequent hazard when setting type by hand too quickly. LaPine notes that the introduction offers insight into how Lincoln was seen in his own day: "The common sense of the people will force them to view this damning act only as the grand culmination of the teachings of secession. The mighty pilot who guided our nation's bark through the perilous storm in safety, is cold in his grave, and the genius of liberty will ever mourne the irreparable loss. Let us profit by his great example, and strive to imitate his virtues."

As early as 1945, Ernest Wessen, a noted dealer in Americana, was describing this book as a "major rarity." The last copy of the first edition to appear at auction sold in 1977.

Other Copies

First Edition of The Assassination and History of the Conspiracy

First Edition

1965 Edition of The Assassination and History of the Conspiracy

Reprint Edition (1965)


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