OLD ABE THE WAR EAGLE OF THE 8th WISCONSIN

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Item Code: P14033

Old Abe the War Eagle was a popular figure after the war. This particular card was produced for the great 1876 Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia where he was on display. The reverse of the card bears the title, “The Centennial Photograph of  “Old Abe,” the Live Wisconsin War Eagle, photographed by the Centennial Photographic Co. along with an 1876 copyright declaration and a printed affidavit that the photo is a “correct likeness” of Old Abe, carried for three years by the 8th Wisconsin, signed in facsimile by Wisconsin Governor Ludington. (While an imposter would seem unlikely, it is well to keep in mind that P.T. Barnum created his own fake “Cardiff Giant,” when he could not acquire the original fake “Cardiff Giant,” and diverted considerable revenue.) Abe is pictured on a perch mounted on a painted U.S. shield, likely the same shield that shows up in wartime photos of the 8th Wisconsin Color Guard. He was a veteran of Island Number Ten, Corinth (where he was lightly wounded,) Vickburg and the Red River Campaign. He survived the war, and the Philadelphia Exposition, but succumbed to smoke inhalation from one fire in 1881 and his remains were later destroyed in another. The back of the card makes one somewhat comical spelling error, calling the display in Philadelphia the “Old Abe Museum of Ormithology.” All in all, Old Abe embodies an interesting combination of social history, folklore, children’s stories and national pride.  [sr]

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