Here's an extraordinary pair of vintage bookends dated 1922. The bas relief was sculpted by artist Olga Popoff Muller as a special commission for the New York Decorative Arts League. It depicts a quiet, domestic scene from the 16th president’s life, inspired by an 1864 photo by Matthew Brady. The seated Lincoln is shown reading to his fourth (and youngest) son, Tad.
Abraham Lincoln’s life was tragic, even before its violent end. Likewise, Tad had a short and heart-rending life. His older brother, Willlie, with whom he was very close, died of Typhoid Fever when Tad was nine. It is said that little Tad cried for a month. Then, when Tad was 12 and attending a D.C. performance of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lantern, the theatre manager interrupted the program to announce that the president had been shot. Tad is reported to have run out of the theatre screaming, “They killed Papa! They killed Papa!” He later wrote:
“Pa is dead. I can hardly believe that I shall never see him again. I must learn to take care of myself now. Yes, Pa is dead, and I am only Tad Lincoln now, little Tad, like other little boys. I am not a president’s son now. I won’t have many presents anymore. Well, I will try and be a good boy, and will hope to go someday to Pa and brother Willie, in Heaven.”
In 1871, at the age of 18, Thomas “Tad” Lincoln III died of tuberculosis in Chicago. He was buried in the family tomb at the Oak Ridge Cemetery beside his father and two older brothers.
Please click on the photo above to learn more about this pair of bookends.
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