As part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial celebrations, United States Ambassador (retired) Lawrence Taylor and his wife Lynda have graciously loaned Musselman Library some of their extensive collection of bookends honoring Abraham Lincoln. During their diplomatic postings around the world and back home in Gettysburg, the Taylors continue to collect historical items and share their love of learning about history and the arts.
In an interview for the Friends of Musselman Library newsletter, Larry described why people collect Lincolniana:
It involves the transformation of any historical figure from the reality of that person into the ‘historical memory’ of that person. And that memory evolves. The person is what he is, but memory can change significantly through time. Given the power of presence and power of memory, American society has chosen to memorialize Abraham Lincoln in a variety of ways – from ridiculous to sublime.
The fascination with collecting items associated with Lincoln began during his lifetime and accelerated after his death. Its heyday was from 1890 to 1940, when images of Lincoln exploded in American culture; these bookends are just one form and they were very popular.
For decades in the mid-twentieth century, it was common for a lawyer to receive a pair of bookends of Abraham Lincoln as a graduation gift and almost every foundry in the country produced them. Materials for the bookends range from solid mold to sand casting to bronze coated and the varying styles include Art Deco and Arts and Crafts. Many are miniature replicas of famous statues – like the Daniel Chester French sculpture located in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This Lincoln Bookends exhibit consists of four cases all located on Musselman Library’s main floor and will be available through December 2013.