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The Lincoln Ear

June 2024
1min read

I was fascinated to read the account of the 1843 Lincoln daguerreotype in the February/March issue (“Is This the First Photograph of Abraham Lincoln?”). I’m afraid I don’t see the resemblance, even to the 1846 Lincoln daguerreotype taken only a few years later—although the asymmetrical droop of the eyelids, also seen in other photographs, is intriguing.

The convolutions of the human outer ear show considerable anatomical variation, and were used for personal identification before the adoption of fingerprinting. The left ear visible in 1843 does resemble the 1846 ear. The sculptors Leonard Wells Volk and Clark Mills made plaster life masks of Lincoln, and Mills made a bronze casting of his mask. These casts could also provide detailed models of the ear for comparison.

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