Creature from the Blog Lagoon 5: Mathew Brady’s Great Americans

Many years ago my mother gave me a gift I still cherish - a limited edition set of Mathew Brady photographs contact-printed directly from Brady’s original glass negatives. Mathew Brady’s Great Americans was limited to 2,500 sets; mine is number 2,439.

The collection features portraits of Abraham Lincoln * - the same image used on the Lincoln penny - as well as:

  • Nathaniel Hawthorn
  • Samuel F. B. Morse
  • William Tecumseh Sherman
  • Henry Ward Beecher
  • Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum
  • Edwin Thomas Booth **
  • David Glasgow Farragut
  • Mary Todd Lincoln
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes

* An 8x10 copy of Lincoln’s portrait is also part of the set.

** Yes, Edwin was the brother of John Wilkes Booth. It may seem odd that his photo is included along with those of the Lincolns, but Edwin - a supporter of the Union - was somewhat estranged from his brother and essentially disowned him after the assassination. The Booths were a family of actors, and Edwin is considered by many to be the best actor of the 19th Century. Interestingly, Edwin Booth rescued Abraham’s son, Robert Lincoln, from certain death after falling off a train platform several months before the assassination. Booth wasn’t aware of Robert’s connection to the president until later.

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