Remarkable 8.75 x 6.75 albumen photograph of the public execution of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, affixed to an 11.75 x 10 mount, featuring a contemporaneously penned caption on the mount in bold ink, “Preparing for the Execution of President Lincoln’s Conspirat[ors], Jail yard Washington, D. C. July 7th 1865.” The image shows the preparations for the hanging of Mary Surratt (who kept a boarding house where the conspirators met), George Atzerodt (charged with the attempted assassination of Vice President Johnson), David Herold (who assisted Booth on his flight from Washington), and Lewis Payne (who attempted to assassinate Secretary of War Stanton). Most importantly, the photograph itself is in exceptionally fine condition; the mount is in very good condition, with some border imperfections and tiny tear to last letter of caption (all of which could potentially be matted out). A print of an unidentified older gentleman is affixed to the reverse.
Entitled ‘Adjusting the Ropes,’ this famous photograph is one of a series of ten images, ‘Hanging of the Lincoln Conspirators,’ captured by Alexander Gardner (assisted by Timothy O'Sullivan) on July 7, 1865, representing the official record of the execution at the Washington Penitentiary. The Scottish-born photographer was the sole photographer permitted to document the execution, but the photographs were considered too graphic for public consumption and were recreated as illustrations for Harper's Weekly. Gardner’s vivid series of images retelling this event was an important development in the craft of photojournalism, a precursor to the longer picture-story format that would increase in popularity over the ensuing decades. A scarce and supremely desirable oversized example of this important historical photograph.
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