Most images of Abraham Lincoln are in black and white, so seeing a color photograph of the 16th U.S. president catches the eye.
The 16th president is rarely seen in color, and this eye-catching image circulated the Internet as the image that might have inspired the penny. But experts from the Library of Congress think not. (Image via Imgur)
This image of President Lincoln -- speaking to General McClellan in his tent at Antietam in September 1862 -- is circulating the Internet thanks to Reddit user Zuzahin and the page dubbed "Colorized History."
At first glance, the re-colored image may even appear to be a fake; one Imgur user said, "My brain is SCREAMING at me that this cannot possibly be a real photo."
Well, it is.
The original image negative can be found on the Library of Congress' website, but it is clearly weathered and worn from years of exposure.
Zuzahin clearly has a passion for bringing history to life; the Internet artist has carefully added color to several older photographs, giving new life to these moments in time captured with glass plate negatives.
"Marc Antoine Gaudin was quite the photographer," Zuzahin said in a post, describing the exposure times photographers in the mid-1800s had to use. On a sunlit day like this, Lincoln would have had to sit perfectly still for at least 5-6 seconds to capture the scene on an entire plate.
"Later developments in the (1870s) would give us instant shutters," Zuzahin said, "and experiments from individuals such as Edward Muybridge would also give us what was the precursor for the moving images we call films nowadays!"
The image taken by Anthony Berger of Mathew Brady’s studio that is cited by Lloyd Ostendorf as the picture used by Artist Victor D. Brenner to create the Lincoln penny. (Image source: Library of Congress).
Zuzahin's uncropped image, above, was posted by an Imgur user claiming that it was the photo used to create the Lincoln penny. However, the claim may be impossible to prove.
Experts at the Library of Congress told TheBlaze it is unlikely that this image was the sole source for the artist who created the Lincoln penny image. Representatives from the U.S. Mint did not immediately return a request for comment.
"According to Lloyd Ostendorf’s book ... the image on the Lincoln penny is based on photographs by Anthony Berger of Mathew Brady’s studio, taken on February 9, 1864," a Library of Congress representative said in an email. "In 1909 the penny’s artist Victor D. Brenner used the Berger images taken on Feb. 9 to model the profile seen on the penny. Like the photograph of Lincoln and McClellan at Antietam, the Berger photograph shows Lincoln’s profile from the right."
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.