This story has me scratching my head.
The Nest Egg Auction Gallery is hoping to make national headlines. The Connecticut-based company will auction off a previously unknown ambrotype photograph (the one pictured above). It can be yours this July 28th, but it won’t come cheap. Bidding starts at $100,000.
Whose picture would command that kind of money?
They claim the individuals in the photograph are: Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln (seated), and Elizabeth Todd Edwards. That’s right, they say this is the only photograph Lincoln and his wife had taken together.
The auction house doesn’t say why Mary’s sister appears in the photo, but they do explain how they acquired the photograph. The owner bought it from “an antiquities dealer in Bath, Maine who in turn purchased it from a Brusnwick, Maine banker. The banker told the dealer that he obtained the item when Rosamond Allen, the granddaughter of Union Civil War General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the hero of Little Round Top during the battle of Gettysburg, sold the family’s home in Brunswick in 1939.”
I think this means we are supposed to believe that Gen. Chamberlain once owned this photograph, but what does that mean? For the sake of argument, say Chamberlain did own the photograph—did he think Lincoln was one of the people in the photograph? The press release doesn’t say.
Instead, the press release lists three reasons why they believe this is a Lincoln photo:
First, “Lincoln” is “wearing his trademark stove pipe hat.”
Second, they have enlisted “facial recognition experts,” who have “used a variety of forensic techniques and computerized analysis to verify the identity of the people in the picture.” These unnamed experts have compared the photograph to 15 other Lincoln known photographs and found “at least 8 points that matched.”
Third, and this appears to be their smoking gun: “The most striking similarity to Abraham Lincoln in this ambrotype photograph is the left hand shown draped down. It is a known fact that Abraham Lincoln suffered from Marfan’s Syndrome. In close examination of this hand, is that of a person suffering from this ailment,” the analysis states.
Simply amazing. How do I put this…I don’t think this photograph is the real deal.
Lincoln wasn't the only person in 19th Century America to wear a stove-pipe hat, but there is a bigger problem with this picture. I know it doesn’t sound very scientific, but the man in the photo simply doesn’t “look” like Lincoln, nor do the other two ladies resemble who they are supposed to be.
And what's the deal with the “facial recognition experts?" Why are they not identified by name?
One final point: It is not “a known fact that Abraham Lincoln suffered from Marfan’s Syndrome.” It is simply a theory, not a fact—big difference there! But even if I concede that Lincoln had Marfan's, what does that mean? Nothing. You simply cannot diagnose Marfan's Syndrome simply by looking at a man's hand in a photograph.
Let’s just say I won’t be bidding on the recently discovered photo.