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Cast of Lincoln's Hand

Cast of Lincoln's Hand

  • Date: 1860; cast 1886
  • Creator: Original plaster made by Leonard Wells Volk. Bronze made under the direction of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
  • Materials: Bronze
  • Dimensions: 17cm L x 10cm H x 13cm W

Physical description: This bronze casting of Lincoln's right hand shows a clenched fist holding the sawed-off handle of a broomstick. The bottom of the cast reads "Original made Springfield, Ill. May 21, 1860 by L.W. Volk."

Notes: In 1860, shortly after Lincoln was nominated for the presidency, Chicago sculptor Leonard Volk made a plaster cast of the nominee's hands at the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln's right hand had become swollen after shaking the hands of countless well-wishers in his hometown. When Volk suggested that his subject hold something, Lincoln sawed off a portion of a broom stick, which is visible in the casting. In 1886, Volk's plaster casts were purchased and presented to the Smithsonian by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, journalist Richard Watson Gilder, and collectors Thomas B. Clarke and Erwin Davis. In order to finance this purchase, Saint-Gaudens directed the production of a number of bronze castings, such as this one, made from the original plaster cast that were personally inscribed for their owner.

Technical Note: This 3D model was created using photogrammetry and Agisoft Metashape Pro. Its dimensions are true to real-size.

More about this item:

Citation: Leonard Wells Volk (1828–1895). Cast of Abraham Lincoln's right hand. Bronze. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Alfred Whital Stern, 1953 (51.6)