Thursday, December 17, 2009


eBay seller proffwilly ( 2306) is offering item no. 270501146876 described as follows:

Nineteenth Century "Political Cartoon"
by Thomas Nast

Very Tragic 1865 Image

This item is one of my favorites of the Civil War period - maybe "favorite" is a poor choice of words, as it is a sad, even tragic item, concerning Abraham Lincoln. This is not a dramatic image, the depiction of one of the major events of the Civil War, nor is it one of the most artistic images to come from the pens of the wartime illustrators. Indeed, this is just a small political caricature (today we might say political "cartoon") attributed to Thomas Nast (but not even signed by him), printed in the year 1865. It shows President Lincoln writing (using as a writing platform a US Army drum), and the words he is writing are: "All Seems Well With Us."

What is tragically ironic about this is the date of publication, which is clearly shown at the top of the page on which this image appeared: April 15, 1865 - which was, of course, the very day Lincoln died!

As the Confederacy came to an end, early in April 1865 Lincoln had journeyed south to visit personally the defeated rebel capital and to congratulate the victorious Union troops. From City Point, Virginia he had telegraphed the simple dispatch: "All seems well with us." This was a serene message, conveying a calm sense of gladness that the nation’s bloodiest war was finally coming to an end. And that is how Thomas Nast portrayed the President, as a very relaxed figure showing little of the wartime stress that had for so long haunted his features. How ironic it was that the date of publication of this image would be the very day Lincoln died, and that the words would turn out to be so inappropriate to the events of that day.

A very special piece of historical Civil War memorabilia, relating not to any major battle, but to the "quirks" that sometimes bring dark humor to wartime situations, reflecting tragedy though intended to show a joyful occasion.

This image is referred to as a "wood engraving" because the plate it was printed from was made from an engraved block of wood - as opposed to, for example, a "steel engraving" or a "copper engraving" (which were printed from directly engraved metal plates). The "cartoon" itself measures about five inches by five inches, and it was printed in Harper’s Weekly almost a century and a half ago. This Lincoln image is on one oversize Harper’s page (15 inches by 10 inches), and this entire page is the item being offered in this auction. Along with the "cartoon," it contains a number of engraved ads, including one for a "pocket pistol" (see scans), and the entire page would make a great display piece.

This item is ORIGINAL - IT IS GENUINE, NOT A REPRINT OR "REPRO" OF ANY SORT! This item is in pristine condition and is a great piece for display!


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