Signed Lincoln Document Discovered in a Locked Desk Drawer

“A New Find”: A document from President Abraham Lincoln’s final days, signed and dated on April 11, 1865, was recently found in a collector’s desk 


Several decades ago, a collector of historical autographs and ephemera put a signed Abraham Lincoln document in his desk and locked it. He subsequently passed away. The document, dated April 11, 1865, recorded one of President Lincoln’s final acts before his assassination four days later. It was one of the last things signed by Lincoln, a memento of the days and hours before he was killed, when his business continued without knowledge of the impending plot against him and others.

In 2023, the widow of that collector discovered this document in her late husband’s desk, exactly where he had left it, along with a handful of letters from the late and previous owner of the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop, Ralph Newman, offering to acquire it and attesting to its rarity. Her husband had kept this one Lincoln document next to a handful of stamps of George Washington, in a sleeve that had protected it. She was unaware all that time that she was the keeper of such an important historical document. 

A few months later, she brought the document into our offices, fresh from its discovery in the desk drawer, an exciting and poignant relic from the final few momentous days of a giant of the American presidency.

This document had escaped scholarly detection in all that time, as well. While a copy was made by the government and filed with the National Archives, the original had been thought lost and went unrecorded by the Lincoln Papers Project. Daniel Worthington, the director of that project at the Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, run through the state of Illinois, confirmed this was a “new find” to which they had “never had access.” 

Lincoln Historical Documents & Autographs 

To learn more about rare Lincoln letters, documents, and photographs, visit our dedicated Abraham Lincoln page

More From the Newswire

Join Us

Stay informed about new historical documents, historical discoveries, and information for the educated collector.

Collect. Be Inspired.