Lot #101
Abraham Lincoln and Tad Lincoln Carte-de-Visite

This lot has closed

Estimate: $200+


Unusual 2.5 x 5 carte-de-visite featuring the iconic image of President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad, taken by Mathew Brady's assistant Anthony Berger on February 9, 1864, on a mount erroneously reading: "President Lincoln and Tad, Photographed by Mumler, 258 Washington Street, Boston." In fine condition.

On February 9, 1864, portrait painter Francis B. Carpenter arranged for President Lincoln to sit for a series of photographs at Matthew Brady’s Washington D.C. gallery. Carpenter, the President, and Lincoln’s youngest son Tad walked to Brady’s studio at 3 p.m.

Since Brady’s eyesight was beginning to fail, he asked his superintendent, Anthony Berger, to photograph Lincoln. Berger took at least seven poses of the President, both alone and with ten-year-old Tad. The images taken that day have formed the basis for Lincoln’s image on the penny and both the old and new $5 bills.

In this image, Lincoln holds 'a big photograph album which the photographer, posing the father and son, had hit upon as a good device to use in this way to bring the two sitters together.' Lincoln later feared that the public would view this pose as 'a species of false pretense' because most viewers would assume the book was a large clasped Bible. When they learned that it was a photograph album, they might think Lincoln was 'making believe read the Bible to Tad.' Just as Lincoln feared, after his death some versions were carefully retouched in order to make the album appear to be a large Bible.

This example is particularly interesting, given its mount with photographer's credit to William H. Mumler—a photographer most famous for purportedly capturing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in a portrait of his widow, Mary Todd.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts
  • Dates: #616 - Ended September 15, 2021