EXCEPTIONAL LINCOLN PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM: AN INCREDIBLE COLLECTION OF FREDERICK HILL MESERVE'S PHOTOGRAPHS, WITH NEARLY 200 PORTRAITS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN, MARY LINCOLN, ROBERT TODD LINCOLN, JOHN WILKES BOOTH, JOHN BROWN, JEFFERSON DAVIS, GENERAL GRANT, AND MANY OTHERS
(LINCOLN, Abraham) MESERVE, Frederick Hill. Photograph album. WITH: Photographs of Abraham Lincoln. No place, no date; New York: Harcourt Brace, 1944. Loose album sheets (9 by 12 inches) featuring 191 photographic images. Housed in a cloth four-fold portfolio binder. WITH: Octavo, original navy cloth, original dust jacket. $22,000.
Extraordinary album comprising over 191 photographs, primarily silver and platinum prints, of Abraham Lincoln, his family, and contemporaries assembled by Frederick Meserve. Accompanied by the first trade edition of Meserve's landmark work, accomplished in collaboration with Carl Sandburg, Photographs of Abraham Lincoln, featuring 100 images of the 16th President, in daguerreotypes, cartes-de-visite, stereoviews, and more by photographers including Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and Alexander Hesler.
Photographer "Frederick Hill Meserve was an important collector of Lincoln photographs. Sandburg asserts… that 'it is quite probable that certain Lincoln photographs would not have come to light but for Meserve'" (University of Illinois). This unbound photograph album appears to confirm that assertion. In 191 photographs, some of which bear penciled identification in Meserve's hand, Meserve carefully creates a tableau of Lincoln's life in portraiture, capturing both Lincoln and his social circle—the friends, acquaintances, political figures, and social reformers who shaped him. The photographs, primarily silver and platinum prints, each measure 2-1/4 by 3-1/2 inches, and are inserted into double-sided loose album pages, which are housed in a cloth portfolio. The first portion of the album, hand-numbered from 1-100 in pencil, featured 94 portraits of Lincoln arranged chronologically. The subsequent pages house an additional 91 images, which include additional portraits of Lincoln, as well as Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, John Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, General Grant, General Sherman, President Hayes, and many other luminaries of the period. The purpose of the album is unclear, but it may have served as a working set of prints used by Meserve as he prepared the first volume of Photographs of Abraham Lincoln for publication. In 1911, Frederick Hill Meserve privately published his landmark work, Photographs of Abraham Lincoln, featuring 100 photographs of the 16th President that he had collected over many years including daguerreotypes, cartes-de-visite, stereoviews, and other formats by photographers such as Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and Alexander Hesler. Meserve published additional volumes over the ensuing years featuring other portraits of Lincoln and his associates, an endeavor that coincided with the growth of his personal photograph collection, which grew to over 70,000 pieces. It was only recently acquired by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. This trade edition of Photographs of Abraham Lincoln is preceded by numerous privately printed editions and privately printed supplements that commenced publication in 1911.
Album extremely good, with mild toning to page edges and a few corners torn, some photographs lightly silvered. An exceptional photographic archive.