Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A New Lincoln Photo Discovered?

Could the man in this image be holding a previously unknown photo of Abraham Lincoln? According to the Associated Press (article from The Hartford Courant), this newly discovered photo just might be a rare "new" photo of Lincoln. Most intriguingly of all, it also could be the very last photo of Abraham Lincoln ever taken.

In this AP exclusive article, the story of the photo discovery is told. The photo comes from an album previously owned by none other than President Ulysses S. Grant, who was of course the commanding general of the Union Army in 1865. The album is owned today by a great-great grandson of Grant, Ulysses S. Grant VI, who contacted a leading collector of Lincoln photography, Keya Morgan. Upon inspecting the photo, which shows a tall figure in the background, Morgan convinced Grant to remove the photo from the album. Much to everyone's surprise, written with pencil on the back are the words "Lincoln in front of the White House."

If the photo can be authenticated, it would become the only known image of Lincoln in front of the White House. Also included on the back of the photo is the date (1865) , a government tax stamp from the time 1864-1866, and the seal of Henry F. Warren, known to have photographed the "current" last photo of Lincoln.

The collector, Morgan, is the person holding up the photo in the image I've included here. The article states that a computer scan and enlargement of the 2.5" by 3.5" photo shows a very tall figure with a beard in the picture. If it can be authenticated, it will be the first such photo of Lincoln to be so proven in decades. (Historians are still debating whether the "new" photo of "Lincoln" at Gettysburg is authenticate or not).

Keya Morgan is a believer. He paid Grant's great-great grandson $50,000 for this small photo, which is now part of Morgan's $25 million collection of Lincoln memorabilia and photos. The former curator of the National Portrait Gallery's photo department, Will Stapp, is "quite satisfied" that the figure in this photo is Lincoln.


See for yourself in the photo enlargement below. If true, what a find.

9 comments:

Jim said...

I love stories like this! If it's truly Lincoln, what a find! I think I'll choose to believe it is, until proven otherwise. :)

Jim said...

By the way ... where did you find the blown up version? I'd love to post it on my website as well.

Abigail said...

I am so excited, hopefully you can follow the story for us.

Mr. King said...

Your blog is a great resource for our teachers to use with their students. Our school is also blogging http://www.lincoln200.blogspot.com/ as a way to learn about Lincoln and blogging. Thanks for including us in your blog roll. This new photo discovery will be very interesting for kids.

Lady6ugz24 said...

This is great, thanks for posting for us!

Lady6ugz24 said...

This is awesome, thanks for posting!!

Eliot said...

No one, to my knowledge, has pointed out the fact that there appears to be a little boy standing to "Lincoln's" right. Unless my imagination is creating people where there are not any, I see the boy's (Tad?) head and hand. Also, it is his foot, and not Lincoln's, that is resting on the pedestal.
Eliot A. Kopp

William said...

Hi, I'm hoping somebody here can help me out. I'll be as brief as I can while still conveying the story.
My grandmother's (my mother's step mother)grandfather worked for Gardner at his Washington gallery during the Civil War. After the War, he bought Brady's studio out, including plates. On his death, some items were shipped to Cleveland, where somewhere in the early part of the last century my grandmother's father discovered glass plates of Lincoln, Grant and others- she used to take them to school to show the class! Sometime in the 20's or 30's they were donated to the Western Reserve Historical Society here in Cleveland. We have two newspaper articles showing images of Lincoln and Grant, and telling of the discovery etc.
About 10 years ago, at the Mansfield Civil War show, I was asking a dealer of Lincoln photos about what he might know about this story- and he pulls out a CDV taken by James Watson Porter (grandma's grandfather). It was far beyond my budget, so I thanked him for showing it to me and I've been looking for a decent copy since. I thought it would be easy to come by, as this guy just pulled out a binder with a credited CDV in it. Apparently, not so easy, as I'm finding.
Any suggestions? I've not visited the Library of Congress in person, but can't find much on their website. The WRHS is looking into what happened to the plates, I'm fairly sure they don't have them anymore. I just would like a nice copy to hang at home.
For the record, one of the plates discovered back then is a now fairly famous shot, one of Lincoln seated with a paper half on the table, half on his lap (from the views taken August 9, 1863 in the Katz book, Witness to an Era).
Sorry for such a long post, thanks for your time. Bill

William said...

Update on my photo question. The plates never went to the Western Reserve Historical Society here in Cleveland. The ended up in the Ostendorf collection. The State of IL now owns that collection, but they say they don't have that plate. So still searching for info, but the WRHS helped quite a bit.
It looks like what I have to do now is to verify that the images of Grant and Lincoln that were "discovered" by Samuel Porter were in fact taken by his father, James Watson Porter. They may have just been in his possesion after he purchased Brady's gallery.

 
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