- Associated Press - Sunday, August 28, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - At the same time that Kathryn Harris, president of the Abraham Lincoln Association, was meeting with the association’s board, a rare Lincoln biography was being sold at a Chicago auction house.

By the end of that day in May, members of the association had bid on and won the three-volume biography that was published in 1888.

“We were talking about, now that we’d (won the bid), how are we going to pay for it on behalf of the ALA?” Harris said. Twenty-five ALA members and Lincoln history buffs donated $26,250 to purchase the book.

On Aug. 10, Harris and the ALA formally donated the biography of the 16th president to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

“I’ve very pleased we’re going to preserve (the biography) right here in the museum for this and future generations,” said library and museum executive director Alan Lowe.

The biography, by Isaac Arnold, a Chicago anti-slavery leader and congressman from Illinois elected in 1863, was first published in 1885 as a single volume. A few special editions with additional illustrations were issued for collectors, according to the museum. Most of these special editions were two volumes.

Though Arnold’s biography is still in print today, the edition donated to the library is unique for the additions it contains, said James Cornelius, the Lincoln Collection curator at the museum.

Only the Lincoln Financial Collection in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is known to have a similar set, and that version does not include any manuscripts.

The presidential library’s three-volume version was issued with fine illustrations as well as original, handwritten documents. They include two written by Lincoln and 17 written to him. It also contains items by Mary Lincoln, the Lincolns’ son Robert, political rival Stephen A. Douglas, other politicians and high-ranking military officers.

“It is called an extra-illustrated set that is only meant for a private collector’s edition,” Cornelius said. “We had no idea it existed.”

Former Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden, a Republican elected in 1916, requested the collector’s edition of the biography with illustrations and manuscripts of letters, Cornelius explained.

“It’s the mystique of Lincoln collecting that this tells us about,” he said.

The three volumes also include letters from Presidents John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, and Chester Arthur.

“I think it’s so unusual there are so many presidential signatures in here in addition to some of Lincoln’s,” said Wayne Temple, a Lincoln scholar who made a donation to the ALA to help purchase the biography.

The biography will be a part of the museum’s archives and available to researchers. But, as artifacts rotate through exhibits in the museum, the volumes could go on display in the future for the public to see, said museum spokesman Chris Wills.


Source: The (Springfield) State Journal-Register, https://bit.ly/2b7z4Mg


Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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