Variations on Booth’s Photos

In 1979, Richard and Kellie Gutman published their compendium of known Booth photographs. John Wilkes Booth Himself contains over 40 images of the assassin. Since the book’s publication, several other images of Booth have been discovered, demonstrating the idea that treasures are still out there waiting to be found.

Due to space constraints, the Gutmans were not able to include all the variations that exist for their numbered photographs of John Wilkes Booth. The following are two such examples of the minor variations that exist in even the well-known photos of Booth. See if you can spot the differences:

This first image was probably taken with a multi-lens or stereograph camera. The stereograph image would be used to create a 3-D image when developed as a stereoview card and viewed with a stereoscope. The second image of the Booth brothers preparing for their Shakespeare statue benefit, is a different, but similar, pose from the original.

John Wilkes Booth loved having his picture taken and by taking notice of the specific details in his pictures we can learn more about his self image and vanity.

John Wilkes Booth Himself by Richard and Kellie Gutman

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “Variations on Booth’s Photos

  1. Richard Sloan

    by either flipping or dissolving (can you do it on your site?) out of the variants that are nuances (not incl. the Booth bros.pic), one can bring Booth to life. It’s so effective.

  2. Carolyn

    I have a copy of this book. I know it was out as a limited edition. I cant remember how much I paid for it. There’s one selling on eBay for $500. I also have several cdvs of john, Edwin and junius Jr, some rare ones.

    • Only 1000 copies were published making them a commodity today. I actually don’t own a copy myself due to how expensive it is. Someday I’ll have to bite the bullet and purchase it, especially for the references of when and where each picture was taken.

      I look forward to seeing more of your images of the Booth family on the Spirits of Tudor Hall page.

      • I lucked out. I thinki only spent a little less than $100. I first got it, I didn’t know at the time it was a limited edition. I have a blog I started a whole back. Here’s the link if I have more time I will definitely upload some of my collections. Right now they are all in boxes which is a waste since I would love to show case these items. I may will some of them to the Spirits of Tudor Hall or the Players.

        • Carolyn,

          I had a strong feeling that you were the author of the ebooth blog. It is so well done and I’ve referenced it many times when doing research. You’re certainly a busy and devoted lady. Keep it up!


  3. By positioning yourself at eye-level with the stereo image at a distance of about two feet, you can slowly cross your eyes until the images merge, creating a perfect three-dimentional view. Warning: Not recommended for those with existing vision problems!

    • Thanks for the tip, Cliff. I’m not sure
      if your method will work on the picture I posted though because it isn’t an image from a stereocard. I just took two CDVs and put them next to each other. Sadly I have a hard enough time getting regular stereoviewers to work for me, so I doubt I’ll be able to see Booth in 3-D.

      • Hi Dave! I assumed they were stereo views because the only variation I could see was what appeared to be a very slight turning of Booth’s head, which suggested to me a second lens, just to one side of the other, showing slightly more of the side of the head. Aside from the head, the two photographs appear identical in every way. Did I miss something? By the way, when I merged the two images with my eyes, the result was the same as with a true stereo, a clear 3-D view of Booth. Amazing!

  4. The left-hand photo showing the three brothers is not only the better posed, but also the best quality print of this grouping that I’ve ever seen. Any chance you could supply a high-resolution version of this photo?

    • Here you go, Cliff:

      This is the largest and best quality version of this photo that I have. It comes from Brown University.

      • Thanks a lot, Dave. I’ve been searching for a decent version of this photo for years! It’s an important view because it’s the only known photograph of the adult Booth without his mustache, closer to what he must have looked like when he was shot.

  5. Pingback: New Gallery – John Wilkes Booth Photographs | BoothieBarn

  6. After a bit of work I was able to animate the first Booth photos pretty well:

    Pretty sure they are diagonal images from a four or more image plate taken with a four or more lens stereoscopic camera.

    • Thank you for sharing these! Your work is very well done and animating them really makes the image come to life.

      • Thanks, I have also done a few other Booth-related animations you might be interested in:

        Do you have any idea who the chaps posing with Booth are? I have assumed that they are fellow actors but cannot really find any more information.

        • Again, great job chubachus. I love your work. While the identity of the civilian included in Gutman 8 – 16 is not known, the officers are. The bearded man seated in the set you animated is Henry M. Day, Lieutenant Colonel of the 91st Illinois Infantry. The soldier with the mustache who joins them in Gutman 15 ( and then replaces Day in Gutman 16 ( is Major Charles C. Cambell of the 1st Illinois Light Artillery. Booth posed with these gentlemen in January of 1862 when he was acting in St. Louis. Some have suggested that the last man in the pictures is Ben DeBar who managed theaters in St. Louis and was connected, through the marriage of his sister to Junius Brutus Booth Jr., to the Booth family. While it’s plausible, I have yet to see a picture of DeBar at a younger age to verify.

          • Ah, thanks for the information, it is really fascinating to me. I’ve been on the lookout for the Gutman’s book since reading about it on your site, but I’m not really prepared to pay 100 buck for it, yet. I’m really intrigued that Booth was photographed with the Union officers given what came to pass as well as how the existence of the series of photographs of Booth with those men doesn’t seem to be very well known. I’m pretty sure I saw them on this site for the first time.

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