ATLANTA — The bookstore at the Gettysburg National Military Park has decided that it’s not such a great idea to sell a bobblehead of John Wilkes Booth, the notorious Confederate sympathizer and assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.
The dolls were on sale for about a week, then pulled from the shelf Saturday after Park Superintendent Bob Kirby, and Gettysburg Foundation President Joanne Hanley considered criticisms of the doll and agreed that selling a wacky figurine of a guy who murdered one of the nation’s most revered public figures was more or less unbecoming.
“After review, the superintendent and I agreed the item was inappropriate and that we should pull the Item from the shelves, and our store manager of course agreed to do so,” Hanley said in a statement.
If the bobblehead wasn’t brandishing a pistol — and standing on a pedestal featuring his name — it would be difficult for all but the most passionate Civil War buff to identify the thing as Booth: With its unkempt coif and droopy, vintage mustache, it could just as well be a likeness of some guy in Brooklyn who graduated from a second-tier indie rock band and now makes artisanal salumi.
Still, it managed to rankle. The flames of the controversy were fanned by a report Saturday in the Evening Sun of Hanover, Pa. In it, Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer opined that the doll must have been the brainchild of “an awfully sick marketing person.”
Matt Powers, sales manager for The Bobblehead, LLC, the Kansas City, Mo., manufacturer of the doll, said that the company’s Lincoln doll, which is still for sale at Gettysburg, has always been a big seller.
“And who’s more tied in with Lincoln than John Wilkes Booth? It just made sense from that standpoint,” Powers said Wednesday. “It’s not as if Booth is holding a gun up to Lincoln’s head or something. … it’s an educational piece, too.”
The Booth doll is sold out, Powers said, but the company is taking pre-orders for a new batch on its website.
It’s available for $19.95, along with dolls representing Kim Jong Il, Joe the Plumber, a chimpanzee and a Marie Curie that glows in the dark.