History Abraham abe Lincoln L.W Volk Hands life cast full size 1860 www.neo-mfg.com Douglas
SIZE Life size HAND MADE IN THE USA -
Abraham Lincoln: Leonard W. Volk Life Casting of Hand. 4.25" x 6.75" plaster hand mounted on a 6.25" x 7.75" hardwood plaque. The cross-section of the wrist is impressed "A. Lincoln By L. W. Volk 1860" within a rectangular panel.
Leonard Volk had retained the original molds, which ultimately found their way to the National Museums in Washington, but in the early 1870s he made four direct casts. One, which would come to be known as the artist's copy, he kept, while giving the others to his son Douglas, also an artist. One of those was used in 1886 to create a serious of casts in bronze and plater, made under the supervision of the noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to be sold to raise the funds to purchase the original molds for the Smithsonian. Ultimately 33 such subscriber copies were made, each individualized with the name of the purchasing benefactor.
The Volks would closely guard their own original 1870s casting. Some authorized copies were made in bronze in 1886 by Chicago foundryman Jules Bercham. But when approached about the possibility of making copies in plaster, the answer was always no.
In 1890 Douglas Volk retired to a restored farmhouse on Lake Lezar near Center Lovell, Maine, where he maintained a studio and an active relationship with his son Wendell, also an artist. In 1907, anticipating interest in connection with the 1909 centennial of Lincoln's birth, Volk issued a circular offering "an authenticated cast of the great emancipator's face rather than one of doubtful origin or from a poor mold." Wendell, a skilled woodworker, designed the custom oak plaque (pictured) on which the masks would be mounted and delivered. The price was not insubstantial for the day: $35 in plaster, or $90 in bronze.
To the left of the mask was affixed a printed copy of a quote from Lincoln's Cooper Union speech in 1860. To the right is a certificate of authenticity signed by Douglas Volk and inscribed "Center Lovell, Maine, July 17th 1907." It states that the mask to which this is attached, countersigned and dated July 17th 1907, was cast from a 'second remove' mold from the life mask of Abraham Lincoln made by my father Leonard W. Volk in April 1860". It is presumed that he referred to the 1870s mold, as the first would have been the one created in 1860.
In addition, there is a partially worn handwritten pencil authentication on the top of the back of the mask itself, by Douglas Volk.
Apparently there are no records of how many masks were sold in this issue, but it cannot have been many. The presentation is quite distinctive, and none of the lifelong Lincolniana enthusiasts whom we consulted has ever encountered another such example. Accordingly, what we have here is undoubtedly one of the earliest and most "pure" versions of the immortal Volk mask in plaster as it was originally executed, and with marvelous family provenance to boot.
Brand new, hydrostone, . White Marble faux, hand made in USA, custom color finishes available.