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Sale 2486 Lot 84
THE "WIGWAM PRINT" (PRINTS--1860 CAMPAIGN.) Brown, Franklin H.; engraver. State Sovereignty, National Union: Abraham Lincoln, from a Photograph by Hesler. Engraving printed in blue and black, 10 x 8 inches; toned with moderate foxing, minor dampstaining along lower edge. Chicago, IL: Rounds (printer), [May 1860]
Estimate $6,000 - 9,000
Fourth edition. The original version of this print was the first stand-alone print of Abraham Lincoln, produced for distribution at the May 1860 Republican Convention in Chicago. The convention was held in the Wigwam, an enormous wooden structure built specifically for the occasion. William Seward was regarded as the likely nominee going into the convention, but was viewed as too radical an abolitionist by many of the young party's westerners. Seward led on the first ballot, but without a majority. Lincoln then gathered backing from the supporters of the other lesser candidates, and won a majority on the third ballot.
To promote Lincoln's dark-horse candidacy, these "Wigwam prints" had been produced in advance of the convention for distribution to his supporters. The 1857 Hesler photograph with the famously tousled hair was used for a model. Under Lincoln's portrait is a ribbon with the Illinois state slogan, "State Sovereignty, National Union." Only two copies of the original edition have been traced, both at the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection in Indiana. Those two copies are both inscribed by early owners, offering some insight into how the print was distributed. One of them reads "These prints were showered through the Wigwam immediately after Mr. Lincoln's nomination May 1860." The other has a caption by Lincoln's aide John Nicolay: "The above was circulated in Chicago on the day of Lincoln's first nomination for president."
The Lincoln Financial copies differ from the present example in several subtle ways. Theirs are also printed in blue and black, but the blue portion was limited to the decorative border and a bit of shading behind Lincoln's shoulders. In the present example, both the portrait and border are printed in black, but the background behind Lincoln's head is in blue, as well as an additional credit line faintly visible just below the image: "Engraved and Published by F.H. Brown, Chicago." The additional text "Rounds, printer" is added under the image to the right (in black). Although the decorative border remains the same, the portrait has been re-engraved from the same pose, filling up a larger portion of the oval frame--we can only guess that the original woodblock broke during the initial press run. Finally, "Fourth edition" is added in capitals beneath the caption. It was likely rushed into production to meet considerable demand in Chicago very shortly after Lincoln won the surprise nomination.
We trace no examples of the original Wigwam print at auction or in OCLC--just the two at Lincoln Financial, making it the rarest and earliest of all Lincoln campaign images. Rail Splitter offered a third edition in their 28 September 2005 sale. We are aware of no other examples of the present edition--or any other. Lincoln Image, pages 11-13 (first edition).