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See the first & last pictures of Abraham Lincoln, plus 24 historic images in between

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Abraham Lincoln - Colliers

One of the earliest confirmed pictures of Abraham Lincoln (1846)

At the time this picture was published in 1896, it was thought to be the earliest portrait of Abraham Lincoln. The photo of the man who would become President is thought to have been taken in 1846, when Lincoln was 37 years old.

From a daguerreotype in the possession of the Hon. Robert T Lincoln, taken before Lincoln was forty, and first published in the McClure’s “Life of Lincoln.” Of the sixty or more portraits of Lincoln … none is more important than this early portrait.

It is generally believed that Lincoln was not over thirty-five years old when this daguerreotype was taken, and it is certainly true that it is the face of Lincoln as a young man. “About thirty would be the general verdict,” says Mr Murat Halstead in an editorial in the Brooklyn Standard-Union, “if it were not that the daguerreotype was unknown when Lincoln was of that age. It does not seem, however, that he could have been more than thirty-five, and for that age the youthfulness of the portrait is wonderful.

“This is a new Lincoln, and far more attractive, in a sense, than anything the public has possessed. This is the portrait of a remarkably handsome man… The head is magnificent, the eyes deep and generous, the mouth sensitive, the whole expression something delicate, tender, pathetic, poetic.

“This was the young man with whom the phantoms of romance dallied, the young man who recited poems and was fanciful and speculative, and in love and despair, but upon whose brow there already gleamed the illumination of intellect, the inspiration of patriotism.

“There were vast possibilities in this young man’s face. He could have gone anywhere and done anything. He might have been a military chieftain, a novelist, a poet, a philosopher, ah! a hero, a martyr — and, yes, this young man might have been — he even was Abraham Lincoln! This was he with the world before him. It is good fortune to have the magical revelation of the youth of the man the world venerates.

“This look into his eyes, into his soul — not before he knew sorrow, but long before the world knew him — and to feel that it is worthy to be what it is, and that we are better acquainted with him and love him the more, is something beyond price.”


Possibly the very earliest picture of Abe Lincoln

In the late 1970s, a man named Albert Kaplan bought a daguerreotype image called “Portrait of a Young Man” from a New York art gallery. He came to believe it was a photograph of a young Abraham Lincoln, and set about contacting experts from around the world — from surgeons to photography specialists — to aid in the identification. 

Very early daguerreotype thought to be Abraham Lincoln Copyright Albert Kaplan 1983


Expert puts pictures of Abraham Lincoln in correct order

Life magazine – February 14, 1955

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.

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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 historical portraits from 1846-1858

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1858

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1858-1859

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1860

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Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1860 for presidential campaign

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from summer 1860

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1860-1861

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1861

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1862-1863

Abraham Lincoln antique portraits from 1864

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1864

Abraham Lincoln historical portraits from 1865

Abraham Lincoln quote: “You cannot build character and courage by…”


Pages from The Life of Abraham Lincoln

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abraham-lincoln-portrait-standing-1860

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A final look at pictures of President Lincoln

This photo of Abraham Lincoln was taken on the balcony of the White House on March 6, 1865 by Henry F Warren. It’s now considered to be the very last photo of the man taken during his life. President Lincoln was shot and killed just over five weeks later, on April 15, 1865.

A closer look at Lincoln’s last portrait from life

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Long billed as the last, but not truly the final picture

This portrait of Lincoln was taken by Alexander Gardner at Gardner’s Gallery in Washington DC, on Sunday, February 5, 1865. According to the Library of Congress, “This last photo in Lincoln’s last photo session from life was long thought to have been made on April 10, 1865, but more recent research has indicated the earlier date in February.”

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