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Lot #184
Abraham Lincoln

Scarce Hesler portrait of the beardless Lincoln, presented with a lock of the president's hair

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Estimate: $5000+
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Scarce Hesler portrait of the beardless Lincoln, presented with a lock of the president's hair

Sought-after photograph of Lincoln in near-profile, 7 x 9, printed in the late 19th century by George B. Ayres from the original negative taken by Alexander Hesler in Springfield, Illinois, in 1860. Affixed to its original 8 x 10 mount, annotated on the reverse in ink by Ayres, “Copyright by Geo. B. Ayres, Phila.” Matted together with numerous strands of Lincoln's hair cut by the surgeon on the night of his assassination, and framed to an overall size of 11.5 x 15; a window in the backing reveals Ayres's annotations. In very good condition, with irregular blocks of toning to image and staining to reverse. Accompanied by a flash drive containing extensive documentation regarding the hair, which was sold in 1914 in the sale of Major William H. Lambert's collection of Lincolniana at Anderson Galleries. Also on the drive are images of letters dating back to 1905, including those of Charles C. Taft, whose father, Dr. Charles S. Taft, attended to President Lincoln on his deathbed. The original full lock of hair had remained in the Taft family until it was sold to Lambert.

Chicago photographer Alexander Hesler traveled to Springfield for his sitting with Lincoln in early June of 1860, just weeks after the latter secured the Republican presidential nomination. Following the close of the Civil War, George Ayres acquired two of Hesler's original negatives and made a living selling prints of them from the 1880s through the turn of the century. A magnificent portrait of the Great Emancipator, considered one of the finest ever taken—by both the general public and the president himself.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: March Auction
  • Dates: #523 - Ended March 07, 2018