MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH IS AN ORIGINAL!!!!

November 22, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: On Friday, November 19, I had the honor to Mr. Harold Holzer at his office in NYC. We have corresponded and spoken on the phone for over a year and it was great to finally meet him face-to-face. Although the main reason for our meeting is not the subject of this posting, we resolved a puzzle that has been on my mind for over a year. As some of my dedicated readers may remember, in August of 2008, I posted a photograph on my blog from a person I referred to as Mr. P. 

Mr. P. owns a photograph in a Victorian frame which he believed was one of Lincoln in death. I posted it on the blog asking anyone who might want to comment on it. In less than a week, I received an email from Harold Holzer stating that the photograph was not one of Lincoln in death. Instead it was an existing image considered to be a fake or spurious one. It had been previously published in books in the early 1960’s. And that was that. I published Mr. Holzer’s findings on August 21, 2008 and informed Mr. P. about the results.  But we still wondered about the Victorian framed photograph and how Mr. P’s family came to have this piece. Who was this man? What type of photographic process was used? Was it a printed copy or an original? We just didn’t know and didn’t dare open it without help.

We zip ahead to last week. A lot has changed in one year. Mr. P. is now one of my closest friends. I’ve partnered with John Elliott to be my writing partner and are moving ahead with our book and other projects. So we all meet in NYC and descend upon the office of Harold Holzer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After our scheduled meeting with Mr. Holzer, Mr. P. brought out the photograph and we asked if Mr. Holzer would look at it. Since it was this photo that brought all of us together, we thought it was appropriate to have him be the one to look at it.

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Upon inspection, Mr. Holzer opened the frame to expose the photograph. Once apart, we observed that the image was printed on a glass plate. Mr. Holzer indicated that it was an Ambrotype which was a photographic process used in the early 1800s. And as this was an Ambrotype it meant that the photograph was an original and not a reproduction. AMAZING! This photo, which has been published in numerous Lincoln books, is the original Ambrotype from which these reproduced photos were made.

We were all very excited about the confirmation. Thank you Mr. Holzer for a great meeting and the photographic identification. So even though the image is not that of Abraham Lincoln in death and is considered a fake, at least now we know that Mr. P. owns the original fake.

By the way, Mr. P. indicates that bidding can begin at $2,000,000.    : )

Below is part of the original article that was written over a year ago that started this whole train moving down the track.

HAROLD HOLZER COMMENTS ON “LINCOLN IN DEATH” PICTURES

August 21, 2008 – Barry Cauchon:

Hi all: My blog has had a flurry of activity recently concerning several articles that I had posted on questionable Lincoln Photos in Death. I was honored to be contacted by Mr. Harold Holzer, the Senior Vice President, External Affairs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Mr. Holzer is an historian and author, considered to be one of the leading Lincoln scholars in the world and he graciously offered to comment on the photos I have been debating here.

2. MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH

This is the first time we are publishing this photograph here. We were going to wait until September 3, 2008 however the review by Mr. Holzer allows us to post it now.

Metal plate photo in hinged frame

Mr. P's photo in hinged frame

Close up of the picture 

 Close up of face.

Close up of beard Close up of beard
Close up of hands Close up of hands
RESOLVE: Mr. Holzer reviewed these images on Tuesday, August 19 and expressed the following observations:
  • The beard is too full (as previously mentioned above)
  • “Why would Secretary of War Stanton have allowed a photographer to make this intrusive shot when he confiscated the picture of Lincoln all dressed up and lying in state in NY City hall?”
  • The arms and chest are too narrow. When the doctors removed Lincoln’s shirt after he was shot, they notice his chest and arms were very muscular. He was ‘ripped’. The body in these photos is not.
  • Is this a Daguerreotype? “Unlikely, as it would be just way out of fashion by 1865 and too hard to take in a room with no lighting.”

All of these were valid points, but the best was still to come!

  • The photo is not a new image. Mr. Holzer pointed out that he had seen it before in Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf’s 1963 book, “Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose”, 1st edition, on page 294. Mr. Holzer stated, “It seems to me they are one and the same shot with the alleged deathbed photo Lloyd Ostendorf and Charles Hamilton published as a spurious image in their 1963 “Lincoln in Photographs,” p 294.  I don’t disagree with their conclusions—the beard is simply wrong.  Lincoln may have had a sort of full beard for his February 1865 life mask, but as the March inaugural photos and the Henry Warren photos show the next day (not to mention the known photo of Lincoln in his coffin), his beard had been considerably trimmed down by the spring of that year”.  
  • END

After conversing with Mr. Holzer on several points for clarification, I was able to find the same photo (although reversed) in another book call “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt & Philip Kunhardt, Jr., Harper & Rowe Publishers, NY, 1965 (see photo and link below). It looks like the exact same photo!

Identical photo (in reverse) from book "Twenty Days" by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip Kunhardt, Jr. 

 Identical photo (in reverse) from book “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt.

http://news.webshots.com/photo/1003168559000142258BBKqRGIYne
 
CONCLUSION: The image is unlikely that of Mr. Lincoln based on the information presented here. But it does raise several questions about who it really is and the origin of the image itself.

QUESTIONS: Some of the questions raised are as follows:

  • Assuming that Mr. P. has an original Daguerreotype or tintype of this image, how did it end up in several books in the 1960s? Mr. P. found the photograph in a desk that his grandmother left to him when she died. This was about 25 years ago. The printed images have been in the public eye for at least 45 years!
  • Does Mr. P. have the original or is it a copy?
  • Was there more than one image made of the body at the time the photograph was shot?
  • Who is the man? Could it be one of Mr. P’s relatives? Mr. Holzer believes that the photo could be from the 1840s or 50s.
  • Where did Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf get the original photo for their book?
  • What is the history of the picture?

FOLLOW UP: Mr. P is not disappointed that his photo was not Mr. Lincoln. He is actually thrilled that he owns a genuine ‘fake’ now. And it has given him a new area of research to investigate. History can be exciting, even if it isn’t on the ‘main stage’. Keep hunting Mr. P!

THANK YOU: Finally, I want to personally thank Mr. Harold Holzer for his time and efforts in helping me assist Mr. P  in this project. As well, I’d like to also thank Kevin O. Johnson, Ph.D in Dallas, Christy and Tins (pardijoe) for offering their comments, direction and assistance in solving the puzzle as well. Many many many thanks to all of you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’

Welcome to another edition of “An Awesometalk With”. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Mr. Roger Norton, the creator and Webmaster of the Abraham Lincoln Research Site website. Mr. Norton contacted me in early December, 2008 in reference to an interview I did with Dr. Thomas Schwartz (see “An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian). It turns out that Dr. Schwartz was a former student of Mr. Norton’s. It’s a small world.

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I can tell you that I genuinely felt honored by his email as I am a fan of Mr. Norton’s website. I believe it is one of the best sites on Abraham Lincoln online today.

As you will read, Mr. Norton considers his site ideal for students, teachers, families and the general public. It contains accurate and easy to understand information, and he genuinely enjoys sharing it with anyone interested in President Lincoln, his family and their times.

I hope you enjoy our chat.

Best

Barry.

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NOTE: This interview was constructed from several written correspondence between Mr. Norton and myself over the course of several weeks.

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December 30, 2008

BC: Welcome Mr. Norton. It’s nice to be able to share your thoughts with my readers today. I’d like to begin by asking how your website got started.

RN: I taught American history at Herrick Middle School in Downers Grove, Illinois, from 1966 – 1994. When I retired from teaching, I looked for a way of staying in education without being in a classroom. In 1996 I created a website on the Lincoln assassination. Within a short period of time, the site was enlarged with stories about Lincoln’s life. Then I added a site on Mary Todd Lincoln. The entire website was named the Abraham Lincoln Research Site, and I invited people to e-mail me with their questions concerning the 16th president, his assassination, and his family.

BC: It really is a wonderful research site. And being that it just celebrated its 12th birthday on December 29, 2008; I imagine that it is still going strong and is as popular as ever?

RN: After a few years, search engines began listing my Lincoln pages near the top, and the number of visitors rose dramatically. The site, which is currently composed of 87 different Lincoln-related topics, is averaging about 1.4 million visitors a year.

BC: Wow. I had no idea that you were generating those kinds of site visit numbers. That’s awesome!

RN: It will celebrate its 12 millionth visitor (since 1996) early in 2009. February is always the busiest month. The web pages have a counter at the bottom which is a link to the site’s statistics.

It’s my estimation that I have replied to over 40,000 Lincoln-related e-mails since 1996. About half of these e-mails come from students, and about 10 percent come from overseas. Lincoln is especially popular in Europe and India.

BC: I understand that you had to change you web address earlier this fall. Did you lose readership because of this? And what caused the problem?

RN: Barry, right now my visitors are WAY down from a year ago because one of my web servers quit the business on October 31, and I had to switch about 2/3 of my site to my other server (and thus have new URL’s). I have currently lost many of my good placements in Google, Yahoo, etc. Right now I am averaging about 1,564 visitors a day; a year ago in December it was about 3,100 a day. Over the next few weeks [the 2008 holiday season], the number will grow considerably lower because schools are not in session. Then it will pick up again in January.

BC: What a shame about your loss of search engine placement. I know that it takes a long time to build up that kind of placement and get into the upper listings with the major search engines.  

RN: I am hoping that I will regain my Google placements within the next several months, but I know it may be a year or more before my number of visitors returns to the levels it used to be before the URL changes. All my stats are at http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=mrsosa66.

BC: Mr. Norton, can you tell us a little bit about your personal history and how you first got interested in Lincoln?

RN: I was born September 19, 1943, in Oak Park, Illinois, and graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School. I attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. I then attended Indiana University where I received a Master of Science in Education degree.

As a youngster growing up in Illinois my early interest in Abraham Lincoln came from the stories told by my grade school teachers. In the 1960’s I became particularly interested in Lincoln’s assassination with the publication of a book entitled “Twenty Days” by Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr.

My interest in the assassination led to my mock trial unit in the classroom.

BC: To clarify, as a teacher, you would have your own students perform the mock trial of the Lincoln conspirators as part of their curriculum?

RN: [Yes.] Each year in December I explained to my classes that we were going to reenact the trial following Lincoln’s assassination. I picked prosecution and defense attorneys before the winter vacation. Each attorney was given a copy of “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” by Jim Bishop. Additionally, the lawyers were given a list of their witnesses and told to prepare testimony for them. The lawyers were advised that the local library had a copy of Benn Pitman’s transcription of the original trial. The lawyers had the entire two-week vacation to prepare their case.

After vacation each class elected a judge, and I picked the witnesses and defendants through volunteers. The jury was thus composed of the shy students who preferred not to take part in the oral simulation. We tried only six defendants [rather than eight]; Michael O’Laughlen and Samuel Arnold were dropped as some eighth graders had problems getting a grasp on those characters. As my classes averaged about 33 students, many of the original witnesses were not used, and in some cases students were required to play more than one role.

After a few preparation days for the witnesses to learn the lines written by the attorneys, we started the trial. In contrast to the actual 1865 trial, the defendants were allowed to take the witness stand. I allowed the trial to go for around ten class periods. Then, after final statements, the jury was excused to vote on the six defendants. Oftentimes the verdicts were different from 1865, particularly in the cases of Mary Surratt and Samuel Mudd. However, the only times Lewis Powell was ever found innocent was when William Bell (William Seward’s butler) did a poor job of testifying.

BC: That is a fascinating school project Mr. Norton. I can’t imagine how beneficial it was for the students. Was this something that you developed yourself, and for how many years did you run this mock trial?

RN: No, when I started teaching another teacher on the staff was doing a mock trial unit, so the idea didn’t originate with me.  For several years I experimented with different trial simulations including the one that followed the Boston Massacre.  Eventually I decided the Lincoln conspiracy trial was my favorite, and over the last 24 years of my teaching career that’s the one that was done in my classroom.

BC:  You also mentioned that some of the outcomes were different from the actual trial. I am particularly interested in knowing what the outcome was for Dr. Mudd. Would you elaborate on that for us?

 

RN: The majority of time Dr. Mudd was found innocent.  But in those days books such as Dr. Edward Steers’ “His Name is Still Mudd” had not been published.  Most Mudd biographies were either neutral or sympathetic towards the doctor.  When my student lawyers researched the case they had trouble finding reasons he might be guilty.  Steers’ book opened a lot of eyes with its persuasive arguments about the doctor’s complicity with Booth.  I would recommend both Steers’ book and Michael Kauffman’s “American Brutus.”  Kauffman takes a different view than Steers, and readers can decide for themselves what they think of Mudd’s guilt or innocence.  Both authors present convincing arguments.  I exchange e-mails with both authors (both of whom have helped me with my website), so I will keep my personal opinion private.

BC: Returning to your current Abraham Lincoln Research Site, where do you produce and maintain it?

RN: I operate on a computer in our den which contains several bookcases holding about 350 books on Lincoln and family. In essence I am a “research librarian” who only deals with one topic. Questions from students are mainly related to research and help for homework. Questions from adults cover a myriad of topics ranging from clergymen seeking a Lincoln quote for a Sunday sermon to travelers wondering why there is a statue of Lincoln in Parliament Square.

BC: I like your site a lot, Mr. Norton, as I can see many people do. Is there a simple formula as to why that is?

RN: I believe the site’s appeal is due to the fact that it is written mainly for students, teachers, families and the general public. Lincoln scholars would find little new by reading my research; my goal has been to bring Lincoln and his legacy to students and the average American.

BC: In case my readers are unfamiliar with your website, I wanted to let them know that all your information is free. This is not a pay-per-view site.

RN: The Abraham Lincoln Research Site is a not-for-profit website. I operate it simply because I enjoy the subject matter and the ego satisfaction of helping people. It has been a truly wonderful retirement experience.

BC: It certainly has been beneficial to untold numbers of students and other researchers. You must be proud?

RN: Lincoln‘s life story is an inspiration for all Americans as his accomplishments and perseverance to succeed in life were phenomenal. The purpose of my website is to share his experiences and character with as many people as possible. I think this is especially important nowadays in a country that is deeply in need of positive role models.

BC: I couldn’t agree with you more Mr. Norton. I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts with my readers and look forward to speaking with you again in the future to see how you and your website are doing.

Thank you.

END

If you would like to visit Mr. Norton’s website please click on either of these attached link.

Abraham Lincoln Research Site    http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln2.html 

Best

Barry

 

outreach@awesometalks.com

 

 

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Other posted interviews to date:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

 “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

“An Awesometalk With” Robert Krauss, 509th Composite Group Historian 

(posted on December 16, 2008) 

 

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