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Rail Splinters

He Tooted for Lincoln

December 28, 2019

We recently were contacted by a collector in Hawaii who has this 1866 military discharge. Such documents normally have modest value, having been issued in the tens or hundreds of thousands. The name of the soldier was unusual… Peter Taltavull. He served a couple of hitches in the Marine Corps and played in the Marine Corps Band. As such, he likely serenaded President Lincoln on several occasions, such as the presidential inaugurations. He also owned the Star Saloon, situated next to Ford’s Theatre and had the dubious distinction of serving a shot of liquor to John Wilkes Booth on the night of the assassination. After the assassination, he was questioned as a possible conspirator, but no charges were filed. No doubt, it is a prohibitively rare signature. He “tooted for Lincoln” and “wet John Wilkes Booth’s whistle!”