WE PREFER PAYMENT IN $10,000 BILLS FOR THIS LOT [ULKE, HENRY.] Photograph of Salmon P. Chase, used as the basis for his best-known portrait. Albumen print, 9 x 7 3/4 inches, mounted on a stack of several sheets of heavy paper pasted together; tack holes in upper corners of image, minor wear and soiling; captioned in pencil on mount recto. [Washington, 1862?]
Estimate $2,000 - 3,000
If you examine a $10,000 bill from your wallet, you will see this is the original photograph from which the portrait is derived. Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873) was Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, and then served as chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1864 until his death. While serving in Lincoln's cabinet, Chase wrote in his diary on 6 January 1862, "In fulfillment of engagement with the President of the American Bank Note Company, went to Ulke's, who took a number of photographs." Three days later, he made a follow-up visit: "Called at Ulke's" (see Salmon P. Chase Papers, page 321, 323). The present portrait, found among Ulke's papers, was very likely one of the photographs Ulke took that week. Later that year, Chase's Treasury Department issued a one-dollar bill illustrated with a bust engraving of Chase from this same photograph. Henry Ulke was commissioned in 1880 to paint Chase's posthumous Treasury Department portrait. According to the Treasury Department's website, it was "probably from a photograph." This is almost certainly the photograph he used, as the pose extends well beyond the boundaries of the earlier one-dollar bill. This image of Chase had one more notable iteration, on the $10,000 bills which were printed sparingly from 1918 to 1946. Between the one-dollar bill, the Treasury Department portrait, and the $10,000-dollar bill, this is the best-known image of Chase. However, the photograph upon which it was based seems to be largely unknown--until now.