LINCOLN, Abraham. BERGER, Anthony, photographer. Large oval portrait photograph signed ("A. Lincoln"), taken by Anthony Berger of Brady's Gallery in Washington D.C., 9 February 1864. Albumen photograph, oval, 8 x 6 in. (with original mount 10½ x 8½ in.) neatly affixed to card, BOLDLY SIGNED in ink at base of image "A. Lincoln." On the back is an early owner's inscription: "In June 1864 I took this picture (by Brady) to the 'White House' and procured this autograph - to be sold for the benefit of the Union soldiers. Franklin W. Pitcher." The ink ran too rapidly from Lincoln's pen, so that the letters "A" and "L" are very heavily inked, background and mount are evenly and lightly age-toned, otherwise in very good condition. C. Hamilton and L. Ostendorf, Lincoln in Photographs, O-92 (the present image constituting a vignetted version of that plate).
"THE MOST SATISFACTORY LIKENESS," SIGNED IN THE WHITE HOUSE "FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE UNION SOLDIERS
A very rare large-format oval printing, by Brady, of one of the great late images of Lincoln, taken by Anthony Berger in Washington on Tuesday, 9 February 1864, showing a vigorous, healthy President. For this sitting, Lincoln had walked from the White House, a distance of more than a mile. After spending much of the morning with Joseph Holt, the Judge Advocate General and several cabinet members, F.B. Carpenter and Lincoln summoned the President's coach to go to Brady's. When the coach was delayed, Carpetnter relates, Lincoln resolved "I guess we will walk and not wait...I don't think it will hurt me a bit to walk; I'm pretty much split up for our having had to wait like this!"
The 9 February sitting also produced the famous images of Lincoln and Tad together, the famous profile view used as the model for the Lincoln penny and the present three-quarter view, later used for the Lincoln portrait on the five-dollar bill. Robert Todd Lincoln regarded this image as "the most satisfactory likeness" of his father. The vignetted form of the photograph is very rare and Hamilton & Ostendorf do not illustrate an example. This print is enhanced by bearing a contemporary ink inscription on the back recording the circumstances of its signing by Lincoln, in the White House, in June 1864, apparently so that the photograph could be sold at one of the Sanitary Fairs for the benefit of the Union wounded.