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    Abraham Lincoln: Spectacular "Mohawk Wide Awakes And Band" Photograph. A band of politicians gathered in a Manhattan tavern late one evening in 1860. The bosses ordered ale and settled into a debate about the usual political topics. They cursed the Republican party, analyzed their presidential ticket, and worried about the possibility of secession. They first heard the noise around midnight. From uptown came the clash of a marching band followed by the advancing tread of hundreds of boots on the cobblestones of the Bowery. Soon the stench of burning oil filled their nostrils, and the tavern's dark windows began to glow from the outside. The insiders spilled out onto the street to join a throng of dazed New Yorkers. There they watched as large formations of young men, clad in shimmering black capes and soldiers' kepi's, came marching down the middle of their island. Each bore a blazing torch, and none said a word. Pushing through the crowd, the politicians shouted, "Who are these Wide Awakes?"

    The march that shook New York was one of thousands that poured through America's cities, towns, and villages in 1860, started by a revolutionary new political organization. Stumping for the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, the movement electrified the presidential election. Supporters from New York to Chicago, and young men from Wide Awake Clubs from around the country put on uniforms, carried torches, and "fell in" to pseudo military marching companies. They flooded every northern state, and some upper southern cities like Baltimore, Wheeling, and St. Louis. Launched in March by "five young dry goods clerks" in Hartford, Connecticut, by November the Wide Awakes had developed into a nationwide grassroots movement with hundreds of thousands of members. Many of the movement's supporters-and even some of its vociferous opponents-believed there never was, in this country, a more effective campaign organization than the Wide Awakes.

    When this image came to us our jaws dropped open! There are only three other examples known, two in private collections, and the third in The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, with all three likely never to be offered for sale, at least in the near future. Those examples were all sold via private treaty, with this example being the first to ever appear at auction that we know of. The albumen image measures 5 1/2" x 7 3/4" and is on the original titled mount measuring 7 3/4" x 9 3/4" overall, reading "See Them On Their Winding Way Mohawk Wide Awakes And Band Parade, In honor of the Republican Victories, November, 1860", and has the photographers imprint of "Stanton" below. The image speaks for itself! Wide Awakes standing on a hill in full Wide Awake uniform....holding swivel torches, wearing capes and kepis, and at the far right the Captain of the group holding a lantern. Only the captain would hold the lantern. At the top center is an amazing banner, with a full standing image of Abraham Lincoln surrounded by "For President Abe Lincoln" and below "For Congress S.N. Sherman". That would be Socrates N. Sherman, who served in Congress from 1861-1863 from the state of New York. At the top left and right are small affixed images, likely men who were in this group image. The bearded gentleman looks to be in the right center of the photograph. We are fortunate enough to know when and where the photograph was taken! Through some research the event was found in the November 15, 1860 issue of the Utica Morning Herald. On one of the pages in small print it reads the following "Gen. F. E. Spinner had the pictures of the Mohawk Wide Awakes, with the Mohawk Band at their head, taken last Thursday afternoon. The picture will be a pleasant reminder of the campaign of 1860". That would be Francis E. Spinner, who was a politician from New York, and the Treasurer of the United States. He is buried in Mohawk, NY. We feel its safe to assume that this photograph was taken in town of Mohawk. The image itself is superb with excellent detail and contrast. The mount has some damp staining at the bottom, some edge wear, and a minor crease at the lower left corner. With that said, considering the extreme rarity of the piece we feel these minor faults can be overlooked, and could be the finest example extant. This truly could be a once in a life time opportunity to acquire, what we feel, is the rarest Lincoln campaign photograph known.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2020
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,225

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