May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 288

Price Realized: $ 594
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(LAW.) Pair of cartes-de-visite of the "West Auburn Murderers," Luther Verrill and Clifton Harris. Albumen photographs, each 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches, on original printed mounts; moderate dampstaining, mounts cropped with loss of credit line, Harris card creased through image, Verrill's card marked in pencil on verso in an unknown hand: "You ought to die." [Maine, 1867]

Additional Details

In January 1867, two elderly women were robbed, raped, and murdered in West Auburn, Maine. A young African-American man named Clifton Harris confessed to his involvement, but insisted that an older white man named Luther Verrill planned the crime and committed the actual murders. Verrill never confessed, and Harris alone was hung for the crimes in 1869. The decision was widely regarded as a racially motivated injustice even at the time. These photographs are captioned "Clifton Haries [sic], the West Auburn Murderer" and "Luther S. Verrill, the Supposed West Auburn Murderer." Other examples of these photographs are copyrighted by C.C. Condon of Maine, presumably the photographer.