Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

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Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States
Currier and Ives
14.24 x 10 in.
Chicago Public Library
SPE CW 2008.36

Here is a picture of a young, ambitious politician. This image is based on a photograph that Abraham Lincoln had taken by Mathew Brady in New York. The day Lincoln gave his famous Cooper Union speech—where he proved to the East Coast that he was a serious contender for the presidency—he visited Brady’s studio. The photograph was reproduced in newspapers, on campaign ribbons, and on popular prints, such as this one by Currier and Ives.

Nathaniel Currier partnered with his brother-in-law James Merritt Ives and built one of the most famous and successful commercial lithograph studios in the nineteenth century. The firm produced over 7,000 lithographs and sold hundreds of thousands of copies of them to Americans, who used them to decorate their homes and offices. Because these prints were inexpensive, everyday people could own a framed picture, and one that related to the important figures and events of the day.

Lincoln was a popular subject for Currier and Ives. They produced thirty-five different images with him as the subject, including one of his 1865 assassination. This print was published in 1860 and shows the president-elect without a beard. The stock number 720 can be seen at the bottom of the print. It was used by Currier and Ives to identify the print in catalogues, sales sheets, and order forms. This picture was hand-colored, as were most of the firm’s prints, by young women sitting at long tables. Each girl was responsible for painting a separate color onto the print.

For information about the images, please contact Special Collections at the Chicago Public Library (specoll@chipublib.org)