Rare, original photo of Abraham Lincoln gifted to Springfield museum
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A rare 165-year-old photo of Abraham Lincoln is now on display in Springfield — and it has a unique history.

The picture belonged to Charles Lame. He was almost killed after a cannon he was test-firing went off. At the time, the 16th president was visiting Pittsfield and preparing for a rally for the 1858 U.S. Senate race. President Lincoln then visited a photographer who made two versions of an ambrotype photo, or a negative image on glass.

Lincoln hoped to directly visit Lame and express his sympathies, though the doctor would not allow visitors. Lincoln instead told Lame’s family that he would arrange to send one of the ambrotypes that had been taken that day. The photo was received the day after, and Lame eventually made a recovery.

The image has since been passed down through generations. Now, it’s made its way to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

“Having the exact physical object that was created in that photographer studio, and knowing its importance,” ALPLM Communications Director Chris Wills said, “and the way the family cherished it all these years, and then decided to make sure that it was preserved for the public by giving it to us — that is an incredible gift and very, very rare.”

The photographer made two identical versions of the photo. The Library of Congress owns the other one.

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