Discovery Channel Special Will Investigate Authenticity of "Long-Lost" Lincoln Photo

LoyaltyOfDogs

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In a webpage post titled "Long-Lost Photo of Abraham Lincoln on Deathbed Featured in New Discovery Documentary Series," the Discovery Channel has announced it will air a special program that addresses "a newly uncovered photograph featuring former President Abraham Lincoln on his deathbed." The program is scheduled for Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. Details on the webpage are scant, but in a related video posted on Discovery's Facebook page, Dr. Whitny Braun, the investigator, discusses photographs taken by Henry Ulke at the Petersen House.
 
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mofederal

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Two of the three Ulke Brothers lived at the Petersen boarding house, and they were well known at the times as photographers in Washington (City) DC. In a wrong way it would make sense that they had a camera or cameras in their rooms. Henry and Julian came to Washington in or before 1860. They are listed as artists at 434 Penn, Ave. and bds at 453 10th West. They were not listed as photographers, even though they were only listed as artists. Lee, the third Ulke brother was not listed in the directory in 1860. By 1862 Henry Ulke was a photographer listed at 278 1/2 Penn. Ave. CDV's of the time are back marked Henry Ulke & Bro.
 
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lupaglupa

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It would be very interesting if true but so often it seems these revelations are empty in the end. I won't be surprised if they advertise it heavily, then spend two hours building a case that falls short and ends with the conclusion "It may be genuine - but we'll never really know."
 

Robert Gray

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I think this is the photo they're talking about. It's not new and I'm not convinced.

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James N.

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Supposedly War Secretary Edwin Stanton forbade any attempts at photographing Lincoln's corpse, either then or later, thereby making any such "newly discovered" photos highly problematical. However, I recall a long-ago LIFE Magazine "scoop" showing one of Lincoln's blood-stained deathbed that was accepted as genuine and likely the best the photographers were able to get.
 

connecticut yankee

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From the moment the dying Lincoln entered the Peterson House late Friday evening until he expired and his body was removed from the house shortly after his death the next morning, I can assure you there was not a single minute that there were less than at least 8 or 10 people in the Lincoln bedroom. Having said that, it was virtually impossible without Stanton's approval and under his direction that a photo could be taken at all. As none of the numerous witnesses in the bedroom ever revealed in conversation or writing that a Lincoln photo was taken, it can be stated without a doubt that if a Lincoln death photo exists, the photo was not taken in the Petersen House.

Photos in the Petersen House WERE taken in the morning right after Lincoln's body was removed from the house. The Ulke Bros., professional photographers, were living in the house at the time and are assumed to be the originators of two photos of the bedroom including the empty bloodstained Lincoln bed. These two rare photos are today well known.

So is it possible a undiscovered Lincoln-in-death photo still exists? Yes. If so, it most probably would have been taken covertly during the time when Lincoln's body was transported by train back to Illinois for burial. The journey made many stops at larger cities where the body was displayed. In New York City on April 24th one such photo of Lincoln in his coffin was secretly taken. The photo was undiscovered for nearly 100 years before surfacing in a library in Albany. There could be more somewhere. And if so, such a photo would logically have been taken from a distance, not close-up as Lincoln was heavily guarded as he lie-in-state.

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LoyaltyOfDogs

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I don't believe Stanton would have let a photographer anywhere near the Peterson house.
I agree @bankerpapaw.

Edited to add: Oops, I hadn't yet read @connecticut yankee's comments, above, before making my post below.

But two brothers named Ulke, who were photographers, lived upstairs at the Petersen House, and if I remember correctly, they are the ones who photographed the vacant deathbed after Lincoln's body was removed. I gather, from the brief discussion in the Discovery Facebook video, that the investigation may be based on a supposition that one of the Ulke brothers somehow had access to the room while Lincoln was there.
 

BarryR

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"I can assure you there was not a single minute that there were less than at least 8 or 10 people in the Lincoln bedroom. Having said that, it was virtually impossible without Stanton's approval and under his direction that a photo could be taken at all. "

No offense meant, but that's funny right there...
 
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Well for those who spent the time watching. I don't believe the Dr. proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the death photo is really Lincoln. Time of death was 7:22AM, supposedly room had been emptied by 8:00 AM. That couldn't have happened with Mrs. Lincoln, officers and doctors jammed in there. Supposedly one officer left alone to guard the body from 8-9 before it was removed. Not going to be one lone officer with hundreds of soldiers all around. One photo expert states ambrotypes were basically finished prior to 1865. So you are looking at less then the hour to get Lincoln cleaned up and photographer brothers to get things set up , process, return to way it was and disappear in that short time without being seen by anyone. Where was the officer, not at his post,this whole time this was supposedly taking place? Facial recognition expert didn't agree on the nose. Another photo expert blames the lighting. Forensic expert bases clinched fist as common with a head wound. Ballistics expert shows only a 3" penitration of the .44 cal. ball. Software recognition programmers come up with a 77% match until she talks with them and it suddenly becomes 95%. Photo is among the missing for over a hundred fifty years. No sale as far as I am concerned.
 

connecticut yankee

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Well for those who spent the time watching. I don't believe the Dr. proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the death photo is really Lincoln. Time of death was 7:22AM, supposedly room had been emptied by 8:00 AM. That couldn't have happened with Mrs. Lincoln, officers and doctors jammed in there. Supposedly one officer left alone to guard the body from 8-9 before it was removed. Not going to be one lone officer with hundreds of soldiers all around. One photo expert states ambrotypes were basically finished prior to 1865. So you are looking at less then the hour to get Lincoln cleaned up and photographer brothers to get things set up , process, return to way it was and disappear in that short time without being seen by anyone. Where was the officer, not at his post,this whole time this was supposedly taking place? Facial recognition expert didn't agree on the nose. Another photo expert blames the lighting. Forensic expert bases clinched fist as common with a head wound. Ballistics expert shows only a 3" penitration of the .44 cal. ball. Software recognition programmers come up with a 77% match until she talks with them and it suddenly becomes 95%. Photo is among the missing for over a hundred fifty years. No sale as far as I am concerned.
Nice analysis, Sir. Another thing besides the ambro process being out-of-date, consider that the brothers had a photo studio downtown Washington D.C. at the time. What in the world would they be doing with all that ambro equipment crammed into an small upstairs bedroom, ready to go on a moment's notice? Remember, too, that this is a suddenly dying/dead President. You certainly can't take a close up, in the coffin photo of Lincoln without government (i.e. Stanton) permission. As I said in a previous post, there is no doubt if the photo IS real, it was NOT taken at the Petersen House, in which case the Ulke Bros. would have had an extremely little or no chance to take it.

Even the owner just claiming the photo is real and getting Discovery Channel to televise a program featuring it, assures that the photo will go up in value considerably. No proof necessary.
 
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huskerblitz

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Was just able to watch it. I still have a few questions/concerns that weren't answered.

1. The coverlet in the Ulke photo and the deathbed photo doesn't really appear to have the same design.
2. The background shows nothing that looks similar to the deathbed photo...wallpaper, headboard, etc.
3. In some of Lincoln's last photos, his chinstrap beard looks pretty sparse along the jawline. The beard in the Ulke photo shows a lot more facial hair near the rear jaw.

**To add...why keep the photo secret after the length of time? Stanton died in 1869...even in that 1908 interview that was mentioned, Ulke wouldn't have faced any backlash really for revealing they took a photo, but I supposed it's possible he would have stayed mum about it. Just not sure why.
 

mofederal

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The Ulke Bros are very well known for their CDV work. In fact I looked online for their work, and it was hard to find anything but CDV's and some stereoviews. It is a lot harder to find a daguerrotype or ambrotype that can be attributed to them. Making ambrotypes required a technical expertise in chemistry. In every ad I saw for Ulke & Bros I never saw them list any work other than CDV's. They specialized in Albumen Silver Prints, and Henry was listed as a painter, illustrator, and draftsman. Granted they may have marked the inside of case works with an ad stating otherwise. There is very little real information available on either Julius or Henry. I still don't think it is Lincoln either, and many don't think the Billy The Kid photo she backed is real either. Nothing was said about the lawsuit against her for for violating her disclosure clause or the attempts by the owner of the photo to stop the show. I could not believe she did not know the difference between a daguerrotype or an ambrotype. How can she be an expert on the Lincoln photo or any other photo of the period without knowing the type of photo it was or why.
 
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