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Saturday, 07 February 2009


Albert Kaplan

According to Frederick Hill Meserve, Robert Todd Lincoln stated that the image now known as Meserve # 1 ..."believed it was made in Washington about 1848"....

Robert Todd Lincoln gave it as a gift to Mr. Meserve, and it is now in the posession of the Library of Congress. One can read the whole quote in Meserve's 1944 book, "The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln".

It seems to me that there is no reason to suppose (in the absence of evidence to the contrary) that Robert Todd Lincoln was mistaken about this daguerreotype. And I have never seen any evidence to the contrary, merely a whole bunch of Lincoln scholars who give a date of from 1843 to 1846, made by a Springfield daguerreotypist.

The physical evidence supports Robert Todd Lincoln's statement to Meserve. It is very poorly made from every point of view. It looks like it was made quickly and thoughtlessly. There is no reason to believe it was studio-made. Rather, I think it was probably made at the Capital in Washington by a daguerreotypist who was making images of all the members of the House. But, no matter, the main thing is this: Is there any reason to question what Robert Rodd Lincoln said about it?

Bob Meade

Mr. Kaplan,

Thank you for stopping by my blog and giving further illumination to the interesting case of the earliest known photographic portrait of Abraham Lincoln.


The man on image No. 2 is not Abraham Lincoln. Just look at his nose. With all due respect, I think Mr. Kaplan's main motivation for 'proving his point' is money. He sells prints of the photo... $175 per print!!!

Also, he's wrongfully claiming copyright. According to US laws (I believe Mr. Kaplan is in Georgia, USA): 1) the original image is undoubtedly in public domain; 2) works resulting from mechanical reproduction, such as photographs or scans of two-dimensional artwork or of original photographs, are NOT copyrightable (i.e., mere labor, if not original or creative, is NOT copyrightable).

Bob Meade

Ana, I understand what you are saying.

Copyright in a very interesting area of law. And there are different laws applicable in different coutries. I can't keep up with them all, and since this blog is read around the world I availed myself of the licence which Mr. Kaplan offered.

Mr. Kaplan's attempt to assert copyright, even for commercial purposesm is little different to that which many people and institutions around the world try to do.

Albert Kaplan

The United States copyright number is VAu 56-526 dated November 4, 1983.

Bob Meade

Thanks again Mr. Kaplan.


Unless Lincoln had surgery to realign and reshape his chin and change the shape of his nose, the guy in the second picture is NOT Lincoln. I don't care what the forensics say, he doesn't even look like Lincoln!

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