A vignetted portrait of Abraham Lincoln from a negative originally taken by Mathew Brady, Friday Jan. 8, 1864 (O-87), signed A Lincoln along bottom edge of photograph, with remnants of Brady's imprint on verso. Lincoln said of this particular portrait: I don't know that I have any favorite portrait of myself; but I have thought that if I looked like any of the likenesses of me that have been taken, I look most like that one [Ostendorf, 170].
Property of the Heir of Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith (1904-1985) and Margaret Fristoe (1901-2009)
The following lots (272 --295) descended in the family of Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, great grandson of President Abraham Lincoln, and the last of Lincoln’s direct descendants. Beckwith’s mother, Jessie, was one of two daughters of Robert Todd Lincoln and his wife Mary Harlan Lincoln. Robert was the only surviving son of Mary and Abraham Lincoln’s four children.
Robert Todd Lincoln and Mary Harlan Lincoln had three children: Mary (“Mamie”), Abraham II (“Jack”), who died at age 16 of blood poisoning and Jessie. Mamie married Charles Isham and had one son, Lincoln Isham (1892-1971) who never married, and left most of his historic possessions to the Library of Congress.
Jessie married Warren Wallace Beckwith in 1897. The couple had a daughter, Mary Lincoln Beckwith, and a son, Robert Todd Beckwith.
Mary (“Peggy”) Beckwith (1898-1975), was probably a lesbian, never married and died childless. She spent much of her later life as a recluse at Hildene. Her death left Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith as the last surviving direct descendant of the 16th President of the United States.
Robert Todd Lincoln (“Bud” or “Bob”) Beckwith (1904-1985) married three times. His first marriage to Hazel Holland Wilson ended without issue; his second marriage to Annemarie Hoffman ended in divorce in 1976 when she was discovered to be pregnant – but apparently not by Bud Beckwith. Beckwith married again in 1979, this time to divorcee Margaret Fristoe (1901-2009). At Bud’s death in 1985 the items offered here passed to Margaret, and at her death in 2009, the collection descended to her daughter from her first marriage.
Several of the lots are accompanied by Xerox copies of affidavits signed by Beckwith in 1977 indicating that they were found in the attic of Hildene in a trunk belonging to Mary Lincoln. An inventory of the trunks prepared by Beckwith at the time reveals that much of the material was clothing, though silver, and a letter seal (Lot 280) are also noted.
Some of the jewelry offered here bear paper string tags indicating they belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln, or family members of Mary E. Harlan, Robert Todd Lincoln’s wife. While most of the jewelry is clearly of the correct age, no pieces can be positively ascribed to Mary Todd Lincoln. One piece of jewelry (Lot 291), however – a lady’s pocketwatch inscribed “Jack” – the nickname of her son Abraham Lincoln II -- is almost certainly the property of Mary E. Harlan Lincoln.
The affidavits accompanying several of the lots are signed during a period when Beckwith made donations of Lincoln family materials to a number of institutions including the Illinois State Library (now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library), the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Center), the New York Historical Society, and others. Much of the material is genuinely associated with Abraham Lincoln. China from the Lincoln White House (Lots 274-275) and a cartes de visite and check autographed (Lots 272-273) by Lincoln bear witness to the Lincoln-Beckwith family association. The remaining material is associated only through oral tradition. Without further concrete documentation, it is impossible to ascertain whether the property belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln, Mary Harlan Lincoln or other descendants. Given the documented personal wealth and civic largesse of Bud Beckwith, he had little monetary reason to fabricate provenance. Clearly he was certain of their family history.
Abraham (1809-1865) and Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882)
Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926) married Mary E. Harlan (1846-1937)
Jessie Lincoln (1875-1948) married Warren Wallace Beckwith
Margaret (Peggy) Beckwith (1898-1975)
Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith (1904-1985)
Margaret Fristoe Beckwith (1921-2009)
By descent to the Present Owner
Provenance: Descended Directly in the Family of Robert Todd Beckwith, Last Male Descendent of Abraham Lincoln
Even toning to albumen photograph; paper loss on mount along lower margin; 3 clipped corners; some paper loss to verso of cdv, with most of the Brady backmark removed; pencil notation on recto along bottom edge of mount and pencil notation on verso along left edge.
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