Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 151

Price Realized: $ 1,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
(ABRAHAM LINCOLN.) Reminiscences and family papers of Lincoln sculptor William Marshall Swayne. 38 items in one box (0.2 linear feet); generally minor wear. Various places, circa 1859-1940

Additional Details

William Marshall Swayne (1828-1918) was a sculptor from Chester County, PA who sculpted Lincoln and many other notables from life. As recounted in this remarkable collection of Swayne's notes and reminiscences, Lincoln recognized Swayne at a reception months after the bust was completed, and said "You're the gentleman that made a mud bust of me. . . . I like yours best." Includes:

Partial manuscript extracts from Swayne's letters to his wife, 1859-1867. Pages 4-52 and 56, 12 1/4 x 8 inches; bound in upper corner with brass fastener, minor wear. Discusses in detail his personal sittings with Lincoln on 3 February, 27 March, 25 May, and 2 June 1864, with additional discussion of the casting and shipping, and an additional account of meeting Lincoln at a reception on 12 January 1865. Also discusses sculpting busts of James Buchanan, Simon Cameron, William Seward ("as fidgety as a hen on a hot griddle for several days"), Salmon Chase (who was entertaining his friend and sponsor Jay Cooke), Andrew Johnson, and many more, with long anecdotes about most of them. Also includes a long account of the Lincoln inauguration, the assassination, and other commentary on public affairs. The location of the original correspondence has not been traced, but it appears to be unpublished.

William Marshall Swayne. "Reminiscences of Lincoln by a Treasury Clerk." 9 unbound manuscript pages, 9 1/2 x 6 inches, unsigned but apparently in Swayne's hand; folds, minor wear. Swayne's personal memories of the several visits he paid to Lincoln. No place, circa 1909.

Mimeograph typescript of the same in 4 pages, titled "Reminiscences of a Treasury Clerk in War Times," prepared in 1909 and copied in 1940. It notes that the original was read for Swayne at a Lincoln centennial meeting at the Kennett Square Firemen's Association, 12 February 1909. Another copy of this typescript is held by the University of California Santa Barbara Library.

William Marshall Swayne. "A List of the Works in Sculpture Modelled and Remaining (in Plaster and Marble) in the Order in which they were Executed." Autograph Manuscript Signed, 3 pages, 12 1/2 x 8 inches, bound in upper margin with brass fasteners. A list of more than 70 works, listing the sitters and the locations if known. No place, 17 December 1914.

A folder of correspondence: from Swayne to his son Richard M.B. Swayne regarding family history, Kennett Square, PA, 28 December 1910; and 4 letters regarding the gift of a Swayne plaster bust of Lincoln to the Smithsonian Institution, August 1940.

28 family photographs, most well identified, circa 1865-1910: cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, and larger formats. One is a portrait of the artist, and another depicts his full-length Lincoln sculpture. One carte-de-visite shows a tall man in a stovepipe hat and beard posing with a family. We do not believe this man is Abraham Lincoln, but you may wish to believe it is. Others depict the artist's children and grandchildren, collateral relatives, and the family crests.

References: "William Marshall Swayne: The Man Who Made a Mud Head of Lincoln," in Lincoln Lore 1493 (July 1962); Harold Holzer and Lloyd Ostendorf, "Sculptures of Abraham Lincoln from Life," in Antiques, February 1978.