Expert puts portraits of Abraham Lincoln in correct order

Nearly all the 100 or so photographs taken of Lincoln during his lifetime have been known for many years, but it is only within the last 10 years that scholars have been able to give exact dates to many of them.

The chronologically-arranged portraits above have just appeared in a lavishly-illustrated paper-bound edition called The Life of Abraham Lincoln by historian Stefan Lorant. They are the result of 15 years of picture sleuthing by Lorant, who had the help of Lincoln scholars all over the country.

To verify the dates of pictures, Lorant has looked into old newspapers, diaries and photographic processes, and dated some pictures by the types of collar, tie and beard Lincoln wore.

During his debates with Stephen Douglas in 1858, Lincoln nearly always wore a round stock collar with a very large bow tie. From 1859 until he was elected President in November 1860, Lincoln favored a soft rolling collar with a much shorter tie. As President-elect, he affected a high stiff collar, which he dropped a year later for a more comfortable low collar and small tie.

Lincoln started a beard soon after he was elected. It was first reported in the press in 1860 when a newspaper joked, “Old Abe is puttin’ on (h)airs!” He let it go untrimmed until in 1861 when he left Springfield for Washington, where barbers whittled it down slowly for the rest of his life.

abraham lincoln photo chronology (2)


LIFE Feb 14, 1955 - abraham lincoln photo chronology (1)

Pages from The Life of Abraham Lincoln

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About this story

Source publication: Life magazine

Source publication date: February 14, 1955

Filed under: 1850s, 1860s, 1950s, Notable people, Photos & photography, Politics

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