“Tad” and his father, Abraham Lincoln.


Unsigned vintage (1864) copy of a famous photo of Lincoln and his favorite son, Tad.


Very rare unsigned photograph, b/w sepia toned, 2¼x3¼. This photograph is carte de visite style and is mounted on a 2¼x4 card by Joseph Ward of Boston (attrib.)


“President Lincoln and Tad/Photographed by Mumler./Published by Joseph Ward, 165 Washington Street, Boston”.

This is a pirated copy (by altering a copy negative and publishing it without crediting the original photographer) of the famous photo taken by Anthony Berger at Mathew Brady’s gallery in Washington, D.C. February 9, 1864. The original negative is now lost. It is believed to have been a multiple-image stereographic plate. This picture, a “pirated” print of Berger’s photograph, features Abraham Lincoln, with glasses on, reading to his favorite son Tad.

The atmosphere is more informal than other photos of Lincoln. This image was published circa 1866. “Pirating” was a practice done by many legitimate photographers (including Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner) in order to get around copyright infringement of another photographer’s work.

There were two forms of pirating:

1) Reproducing a copy negative of another’s work and publishing it without a printed credit to the original photographer or to the photographer doing the reproducing.

2) Altering a copy negative in some way and publishing it with or without a photographer’s imprint, without crediting the original photographer.

This carte de visite conforms to this second scenario. Tad Lincoln was 18 when he died in 1871. The Lincolns had four children, but only Thomas “Tad” Lincoln (1853-1871), his father’s favorite, and Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926) would survive their father.

A bit of History… (don’t read it if you are yawning !)

On Robert Todd Lincoln lived to adulthood, becoming Secretary of War under Presidents Garfield and Arthur (1881-1885). Future Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), on the advice of Whig legislator (and future law partner) John Todd Stuart, became a lawyer in 1836. In 1837, Lincoln moved to Springfield, where he became a partner in Stuart’s law firm. From 1834 until he left for Washington, D.C. as President-elect, Lincoln’s law offices were located above Seth Tinsley’s store in Springfield. Lincoln, who became one of the most respected and successful lawyers in Illinois, handled some 5,100 cases and appeared before the Illinois State Supreme Court over 400 times over his 23-year legal career, which also included a long association (1844-1865) with another partner, William Henry Herndon. Before being elected President, Lincoln also served in the Illinois State Legislature (1834-1841) and one term (1847-1849) as a U.S. Congressman. He’s best known, of course, as the 16th president of the United States (1861-1865), and especially as the Union’s president during the Civil War (1861-1865) and writer of the Emancipation Proclamation. He was actively involved in military planning, swapping generals to find an aggressive commander of the Union army. Though his involvement cost the Union an early loss at the First Battle of Bull Run, his policies of blockading and overwhelming the Confederate army with superior numbers would eventually win the day. His primary objective was to reunite the United States, not end slavery. However, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 in response to rising abolition feelings in the Union. He was shot while sitting in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1965, only a few months after being sworn in for his second term as president and only two days after the Confederate Army’s official surrender, and died the next day. He was succeeded by vice-president Andrew Johnson.

About Thomas “TAD” Lincoln: Tad was the fourth and youngest son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln. The nickname “Tad” was given to him by his father, who found him “as wriggly as a tadpole” when he was a baby. Lincoln was known to be impulsive and unrestrained, and he did not attend school during his father’s lifetime. He had free run of the White House, and there are stories of him interrupting Presidential meetings, collecting animals, and charging visitors to see his father. Lincoln outlived his father but died at the age of 18 on July 15, 1871, in Chicago. (source: Thomas Lincoln on Wikipedia)

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