“Scan every face”

In the days following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the entire country was on the lookout for the assassin and his conspirators. The wanted posters for Booth, Herold, and Surratt offered generous sums and were allegedly the first in the nation to use photographs:


But these wanted posters and broadsides were not the only means put forth to help identify and find the criminals. Quickly stationary store owners sprang into action. They were already producing memorial envelopes (called covers to stamp collectors) to the fallen President:


In short order one Washington D.C. stationary maker named C. H. Anderson created an envelope containing the image of John Wilkes Booth:


The idea was that covers like this would serve as traveling wanted posters, reminding postal workers and citizens to keep a watchful eye for the assassin. The description under the engraving of Booth gives the following instructions:

“Hunt the villain down. Scatter this likeness in every section of the country; scan every face, particularly if it shuns you; observe closely the features which cannot change; make due allowance for the beard to grow, the mustache shaved off, and the hair cut. It may be by your means that a benignant Government shall mete out justice to one for whom there should be no mercy.”

While a good idea, in the end, Booth was brought down by the cavalry, not a cover.

Lincoln Covers Auction

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on ““Scan every face”

  1. Rich smyth

    Hi Dave, at the auction site they note “Ex Risvold” below two of the covers. What does the “Ex” stand for? I wonder if they were part of Floyd Risvold’s collection?

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