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1866 Abraham Lincoln and Union Generals Large-Format Composite Photo by O. H. Oldroyd
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $1,541
Extraordinary professionally produced 1866 photographic composite display piece featuring carte de visite images of Abraham Lincoln, his cabinet, and important Civil War Union generals. Also displayed are a photo of the United States Capitol and a number of military illustrations. The title of the piece, "The Might of the Republic," is lettered within an illustrated patriotic motif along the top border. A total of 110 individuals are pictured here, including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Abner Doubleday, William Sherman, William Dennison, Edwin Stanton, George Meade, Ambrose Burnside, John Pope, Winfield Scott Hancock, George Thomas, and William Seward. This composite photograph was created by famed Lincoln collector and biographer Osborn H. Oldroyd, as noted by the copyright printed along the bottom border: "Entered According To Act Of Congress By O. H. Oldroyd, In The Year 1866, In The Clerks Office Of The Southern District of Ohio." What is all the more remarkable about the piece is that most of the CDV images used in creating the composite photographic display appear to be produced by celebrated Civil War photographer Mathew Brady. Furthermore, every single CDV was a signed example, presumably from Oldroyd's personal collection. CDVs and cabinet cards of Civil War generals are a very popular field of collecting, with this piece representing the ultimate Civil War generals display piece. Oldroyd, who fought in the Civil War, was the preeminent Lincoln collector of his day and he even opened a Lincoln Museum in 1884. Today, the bulk of his collection resides in the permanent holdings of the University of Chicago Library. As noted by the Library, the material also includes Oldroyd’s collection of signatures of military and political personnel.The following is an abridged version of his biography at the University of Chicago Library website:
Osborn H. I. Oldroyd (1842-1930) was a Civil War sergeant, writer, and collector of Lincoln memorabilia. During his time in the Grand Army of the Republic, Oldroyd kept a journal of military events and personal recollections. In 1885 he published portions of this under the title A Soldier’s Story of the Siege of Vicksburg. After leaving the G.A.R. in 1865 due to asthma-related illness, Oldroyd served as Steward of the National Soldiers’ Home in Dayton, Ohio. Oldroyd married Lida A. Stoneberger in 1873 and the two had one daughter, Daisy Oldroyd. The family moved to Springfield, Illinois and rented the former home of Abraham Lincoln, which Oldroyd converted into The Lincoln Museum in 1884. On view was Oldroyd’s expanding collection of Lincoln memorabilia. After the Lincoln home was donated to the State of Illinois in 1893, Oldroyd moved his family and Lincoln collection to the Peterson House in Washington, D.C., where Lincoln died. He sold the 3,000 piece collection to the U.S. government for $50,000 in 1925. The government moved the collection to the Ford Theatre, where Lincoln had been assassinated. Oldroyd published The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1917. The narrative account of Lincoln’s death became a quick popular success. Oldroyd died in 1930 at the age of 88.
Obviously, this composite photo was a labor of love for Oldroyd and he spared no expense in having it made. While we cannot state how many photographic display prints he produced, or whether or not he offered them for sale to the public, we do know that few have survived. This is the only example of this photographic composite that we have ever seen. We have been unable to locate another and we cannot imagine a more striking large Civil War photographic display print. The photo (14.5 x 18 inches), which is mounted onto a cardboard backing, is lightly toned along the top portion of the print. Light foxing is also evident. Condition is remarkably strong. The flaws are extremely minor, the photo displays outstanding clarity, and has an overall strong Excellent appearance. Housed in a period (presumably original) wood frame, which measures 22 x 25 inches. Together with a portion of backing paper from an earlier framing that bears a label from a Boston, Massachusetts, frame shop. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,541
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