The self-proclaimed “homeliest man in the State of Illinois” is generally thought to have sat for this widely reproduced portrait around 1858, in Peoria, Illinois, at Mr, and Mrs. Roderick Cole’s ambrotype and photographic gallery, during the Lincoln-Douglas Senate campaign. In 1903, Roderick Cole identified this image of Lincoln as “a copy of a Dagueratype [sic], that I made in my gallery in this city [Peoria]… I invited him to my gallery to give me a sitting… and when I had my plate ready, he said to me, ‘I cannot see why all you artists want a likeness of me unless it is because I am the homeliest man in the State of Illinois.”
Homely or not, Lincoln liked the image and often signed photographic prints for admirers. In fact, in 1861, he even gave a copy to his stepmother.
A slight variant of this pose, taken at the same sitting, was used in the 1860 presidential campaign poster about which the young Grace Bedell wrote to Lincoln with advice on how to obtain more votes. “If you will let your whiskers grow, " the eleven year-old advised, "you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin . . . then you would be President.”
Signed Photo (“Yours truly, A. Lincoln”), being an oval portrait photo of a beardless Lincoln; large folio. Generally credited to Roderick M. Cole of Peoria, Illinois, around 1858. Hamilton & Ostendorf, O-14.