A new load of Abraham Lincoln
artifacts - including an extremely rare 1860 campaign
biography and a previously unknown painting - are
helping to complete the picture of Springfield's
favorite son and the nation's 16th president.
So said Thomas Schwartz, interim director of the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, on
Thursday as he announced the library's acquisition of
several new Lincoln items.
"You have to think of it that we've got a
10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and yet we've only got maybe
200 of the actual pieces," Schwartz said. "Anytime that
we can add those missing pieces we get a better view of
what that picture is."
Many of the artifacts are from Rantoul's Kent Tucker,
a 35-year collector of Lincoln memorabilia. Tucker gave
the library the 1860 campaign biography by author Reuben
Vose, one of only four copies known to exist.
"It's always been my wish to have the state of
Illinois have first refusal on all my items because it's
not necessarily the native state, but the home state, of
Lincoln," said Tucker, who was exposed to Lincoln
history as a child through family connections in
Kentucky and Illinois.
The library also purchased the following items from
A portrait of Lincoln by artist George
Peter Alexander Healy, presumably from life. Healy
visited Washington, D.C., and the White House during the
Civil War. The portrait is signed by Healy but not
dated, Schwartz said.
Forty-five letters from Mary Harlan
Lincoln, wife of Robert Todd Lincoln, and Mary Lincoln
Isham, the daughter of Mary and Robert Lincoln.
Four typescripts of books by Lincoln
biographer William E. Barton, which include Barton's
notes and corrections in the margins.
"It's a good home for them," Tucker said of the
library. "The manuscripts are one of a kind, the Vose is
very limited, the Healy is one-of-a-kind, as far as
being an unknown. And the letters are probably one of
the largest caches of family letters from the Robert
In addition, the museum purchased from a dealer a
letter written by Robert Todd Lincoln about the
impending death of his son, Abraham "Jack" Lincoln II,
who was dying of blood poisoning from an infected cut.
Dated Jan. 13, 1890, the letter was written to Henry
White, secretary of the American Embassy in London and
offers the first known indication that there was no cure
for Jack's illness. Jack died on March 5, 1890, in
London, where his father was serving as minister to the
Court of St. James.
The Vose biography has been appraised at $10,000,
Schwartz said. The library paid about $30,000 for the
Schwartz thinks the dozens of letters in particular
will be of value to researchers.
"The letters humanize the family and also take the
story beyond (Abraham) Lincoln and into the later
generations," he said. "Those are the people who are
probably the most obscure to us, and yet they lived very
interesting lives themselves."
Daniel Pike can be reached at 788-1532 or