Samuel Mudd Marquetry Box
What we have is a box, one apparently of three, that was built by Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was one of the indicted co-conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
And of course everybody who's read American history, or should have read American history, knows that Mudd was indicted for setting the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth on the night of April 14, 1865, as Booth was trying to get out of Washington. How did you come by this box? And I'm going to lift it up so people can see the lid a little bit here.
This was a gift to me, almost 20 years ago now, by a very dear friend who had owned it for, apparently, about 50 years. As she was getting late in years, she said she had to dispose of her property, knew that I was a Lincoln fanatic, and wished to give it to me if I wanted it.
The outside is this beautiful marquetry, but what's really neat, of course, is when you open it up and you see this marvelous wreath of seaweed with the inscription that was apparently written by W. Butler Bach of the 5th Artillery U.S. Army, who presumably was a guard at Fort Jefferson.
Saying that it was made by Dr. Samuel Mudd in prison at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, which of course are about 65 miles from Key West, Florida, where Mudd was sent when he was imprisoned. And it was apparently made from driftwood that he picked up on the beach. Carl Sandberg, in his book The Lincoln Collector, describes one of the other three boxes, one that was made for Mudd's own daughter. And Dr. Richard Mudd, who has led the fight for his grandfather's exoneration, has come down two or three times to look at it, and he's acknowledged that, "Wow, this is one of the ones my grandfather made." If I were to put this in an auction, I would estimate its value at somewhere between $10,000 to $15,000 or $15,000 to $20,000.
Hm! Wow, that is impressive. I must tell you that it's among the possessions I would least like to dispose of.
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