Just an old Lincoln bookend

Lincoln by Gutzon Borglum

Lincoln by Gutzon Borglum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was at a flea market the other day and my eyes caught sight of a Lincoln statue. I think my eyes are especially “in-tune” for Lincoln things-because I always spot them! It was dusty and under a pile of rubble-oh excuse me-“treasure.” Probably most people didn’t take notice of it. Others who may have seen it didn’t give it a second notice. Well, for me it was like finding gold! “How much?”,  I asked the seller of these “rare collectables.” He held it in his hands eyeballing it. He turned it this way and that. The moments seemed like hours. I was thinking that he was about to rip me off. “Ten bucks,” he said matter of factly.  To me that was a good price but I didn’t want him to know that so I paused for a few moments myself and said finally: “okay.”

With treasure in hand I made my way out and smiled knowing I had found a good deal. The seller probably didn’t know anything about the bookend. It is based on a life-sized statue done by Gutzon Borglum.  That statue is placed outside the court house in Newark, New Jersey. I think it was unveiled in 1911. If I remember correctly, it made quite an impression at the time because it featured President Lincoln sitting.  I seem to recall that he was supposed to be portrayed as “taking a break” while reading War Department news. It’s an excellent likeness of Lincoln, by the way. The little statue I bought at the flea market lacks the detail of Borglum’s statue.

A word about Gutzon Borglum: he was a sculptor of the first degree. He wasn’t fond of the idea of putting Lincoln in a temple (i.e. the Lincoln Memorial statue in Washington).  His Lincoln works show the humanity and the greatness of Lincoln, but don’t seek to “make him a god.”  Notice that his ‘sitting Lincoln’ is on a platform not a pedestal. He placed Lincoln on a bench. His hat is placed beside him (I wonder if there are any documents in it :) ). Lincoln looks tired-but approachable! He looks like he would be ‘just fine’ if someone wanted to join him, although he is apparently enjoying the quietness on the bench. I have seen photographs of that statue with little children playing on him. One is bound to sense a ‘Jesus vibe’- “suffer the little children to come unto me” kind of thing (but I digress). He has a slight smile that is so Lincoln.

The Newark statue was given to the Lincoln Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. The GAR then gave it over to the city. Theodore Roosevelt was there at the presentation.  Today the statue still sits on Market Street. The seated Lincoln watches as people pass by. It serves as a great ‘photo op’ for folks. It’s interesting that because the statue’s height is what it is, Mr. Lincoln eyes are at eye level with pedestrians. One could almost engage in conversation with the  statue.  That’s pretty much what I was doing when I walked out of the flea market that day with my little bookend statue in hand. It was a great day- thanks in part to the seller and to Mr. Borglum.

 

New Jersey statue of Lincoln by Borglum. Photo from Politickernj.com
New Jersey statue of Lincoln by Borglum. Photo from Politickernj.com
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2 Responses to “Just an old Lincoln bookend”

  1. donna says:

    Great writing

  2. Paul R says:

    Mr. Borglum also made the Mt. Rushmore faces. Quite a remarkable artist.

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