In April of 1980, Americana magazine published an article about Richard and Kellie Gutman. The pair had just completed their groundbreaking study on all of the known photographs of John Wilkes Booth. Their final product was the volume John Wilkes Booth Himself. The article highlighted the Gutmans’ six year search for Booth photographs in collections around the nation and also discussed some of the Gutmans’ own personal Booth treasures. Coincidentally, one item that formerly belonged to the Gutmans was an over-sized autograph of John Wilkes Booth to his brother Junius, which sold at auction for $14,000 ($17,500 after the 25% buyer’s premium) on January 24th.
The article was well written and helped bring awareness of “Boothophiles” (as the article termed them), like the Gutmans, to a wider audience. Even back then, Richard Gutman expertly explained what it meant to be a Boothophile/Boothie/BoothBuff stating:
“We’re not apologists for Booth. The enormity of his deed precludes that. But we are fascinated by Booth as a romantic, enigmatic character – by how a talented actor became unhinged enough to assassinate Lincoln.”
If you have a couple minutes to spare, I would highly recommend reading the three page article about the Gutmans which can be found here.
Due to the inclusion of the Booth article, the man in charge of creating the crossword puzzle for that issue of Americana decided to make the puzzle John Wilkes Booth themed. While not every clue is related to John Wilkes Booth, I thought it might be entertaining to post the crossword puzzle here for you all to print out and try on your own. Consider it another bit of levity and a nice rainy day Boothie activity like the coloring page I posted awhile back.
Have fun and let me know how you do!
P.S. How times have changed. At the end of the Gutman article was the following box of information:
While the Surratt Society still puts on their excellent John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tours (BERTs), the price has gone up in the 35 years since this article was published. The price is now $80 for Surratt Society members and $85 for non-members. Also, I would have loved to have been around to pick up multiple copies of John Wilkes Booth Himself for the original price of $18.50. Nowadays, the asking price for this book is about $300 and up. It just goes to show you, forget buying stocks and bonds, the best long term investments are in Booths!
A Booth letter going for $14K is surely a sign of our economic times. It wasn’t that long ago that one set a record of (I think) 80K.