- From the Publisher
- Ford’s Theatre Ticket Voucher
- A Cup Half-Empty
- Who Were the Lincoln Life Guards?
- Kepi Controversy
- Primary Source Material: Manuscripts
- Overlooked Evidence: Lincoln in Pioneer Chicago
- “THE UNION Is DISSOLVED” The Charleston Mercury Broadside: Points of Authenticity and Variations
- Lincoln Letter Fraud on Ebay
- What He Really Thought of Lincoln: The Discovery of an Unpublished Letter by William F. Herndon
- The Sanitary Fair’s Gifts to President Lincoln
- Behind the Scenes At Federal Hall
- In The Marketplace
- LINCOLNPHILE (book reviews)
- The Annotated Lincoln
- Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies
- Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History
- “Lincoln” Hits the Screens
- We Have The War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861
- Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War
- President James Buchanan and the Crisis of National Leadership
- Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln
- Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President.
- Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness.
- Letters to the Editor
- The Obvious Lincoln
- DeWitt Deaccession Debate
- Fake Lincoln Endorsement
- Historical inaccuracies found in CDV
- More on the Lincoln Avengers
- Cartoon Artist Identified
- Kepi Commentary
- An Item in Search of a Story
- Show & Tell
- Replicas For Sale
- Dueling Blogs
- Lincoln Artwork or Just Artwork?
- Devil with a Blue Dress On
- Breyer Model Horses
- Kudos on the new site!
- This daguerreotype looks like Lincoln, but is it Lincoln?
- What Is Lincoln’s Embalmer Worth?
- New Lincoln Stuff on the Market
- Rail Splinters
- Suspect Lincoln
- Amateur Historians
- A Worthless Ribbon and a Worthless C.O.A.
- A Note from the Great Beyond
- ‘A. Lincoln’ Money Pit
- Added Cachet Value
- A Constant Flow of Fakes
- Problematic Copy Images
- Fraudulent Tintype
- If Only It Were Real!
- Rip-Off Ribbons
- Bogus Ballot
- “Ay, tear her tattered ensign down”
- Legit and Illegitimate Theater: The Ford’s Theatre Ticket
- Implausible Provenance
- Twice As [Not] Nice
- These Have Age, But Not Enough
- The Real and the Unreal
- Great Finds!
The advent of the Internet has had both positive and negative effects. People with no academic background in research or American history have become “experts”. Everything they read online (assuming, of course, it confirms their assumptions) is taken as gospel. We recently spoke to one individual who insisted that typewriters were invented in the 1840s and were routinely used during the Civil War. Must be true… he found the information online!
The worst manifestation of this trend is the growing number of people who purchase old photographs then identify them as unknown portraits of famous people, thereby enchanting the value of their holding immeasurably and making them look like geniuses. During the past twenty years or so, we have seen “newly-discovered portraits” of Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln and many others. Any tall guy with a stovepipe hat is Lincoln. Any fat guy is Douglas. Any guy with a walrus mustache is either Wyatt Earp or Bat Masterson.
Recently, we saw a story about two California brothers who purchased a nice outdoor sixth-plate daguerreotype on eBay for $1259. These fellows seem to have unbelievable luck in making such finds. They supposedly have uncovered a Wyatt Earp family photo album, the earliest known photograph of Los Angeles, and previously unknown portraits of Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp. They have an “elite” team of three women who do much of their online research.
The daguerreotype in question shows a bunch of people posing outside a free-standing building, possibly a school or orphanage, given the number of children. A tall man wearing a white linen duster and dark stovepipe hat is seen in the foreground. The brothers believe this is Lincoln. They contend that a shorter man seen nearby is Douglas and that Mrs. Adele Douglas is also in the picture.
Dr. Mathew Pinsker of Dickinson College, a well-respected Lincoln scholar and author, pooh-poohed the piece. An “advanced Lincoln collector” in Illinois agreed that it showed Lincoln and even identified the locale as “Knoxville, Illinois” (Perhaps he meant Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois). Some park rangers at the Lincoln National Home site in Springfield thought it showed Lincoln. Accordingly, the brothers think this might be the only known photograph of Lincoln & Douglas together, taken during their debates in 1858.
The latest daguerreotype we have seen was taken in March 1857. We don’t believe they were still making them in 1858. How likely is it that Lincoln and Douglas both happened to be visiting a school or orphanage in 1858, that a mobile daguerreotypist was at-hand, and that the two adversaries decided on-the-spot to pose for a souvenir photo? Not to mention that, on a small photograph, taken from a distance, the details of facial expression are generally indistinct. Makes the whole thing problematic, don’t you think? But, who are we to argue with such eminent authorities? And, as one brother said, “Nobody really knows history.” So, in an age where facts and history are disputed from all sides, everyone’s an expert and one opinion is just as good as another? Right?
NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE RAIL SPLITTER PRESS:
Book Review Archive
- Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War.
- The Dark Intrigue: The True Story of a Civil War Conspiracy.
- President Lincoln: the Duty of a Statesman.
- Lincoln’s Men: The President and His Private Secretaries.
- The Lincoln’s: Portrait of a Marriage.
- The Madness of Mary Lincoln.
- Lincoln the Inventor.
- Lincoln and New York.
Rail Splinters Archive
- Stereo view photographs of Abraham Lincoln statue damaged in 1906 San Francisco earthquake
- Lincoln in Film
- John Wilkes Booth? Probably not.
- Answer to the question “Whatever became of the Gillett collection?”
- What happened to the Gillette Collection?
- This Train is Bound for Glory
- Lincoln Ballots 1834-1864
- Lincoln Museum in Boise
- Lincoln at the Abolition Ball
- Where East Meets West
- A Prince of a Guy
- In Memoriam: C. Peter Scanlan
- Portrait of Lincoln Legal Associate Unearthed
- Thomas T. Eckert Archive: Telegraphic History of the Civil War
- Beethoven’s medium channels news of Lincoln’s Death by composing “The Funeral March”
- Where is Mary Todd Lincoln’s 1861 Inaugural Ball dress?
- The Meatball does The Sauceman (and The Rail Splitter) proud
- Lincoln “apparently not” a sexist
- Campaign woodcuts in illustrated magazines, symbolism or adornment?
- 1890 Wide-Awake Reunion program
- Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention Highlights
Past Print Issues