1. Creator/Author:
  2. Bembe & Kimbel, New York, New York (1)

Alexander Gardner Studio Arm Chair / U. S. House of Representatives Chamber Arm Chair

Bembe & Kimbel, New York, New York
New York, New York
Origin Date:
wood (oak, pine)
overall: 40 in x 24 in x 23 in
Item ID:
Holding Institution:
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum
Available for Viewing:
Three-dimensional Objects


Arm chair with symbolic carvings featuring the U. S. Shield with stripes and three stars, all surrounded by leaves, acorns, and laurel berries. The chair also has carved laurel leaves plus oak leaves and acorns in relief on the sides. The arm rests and seat have maroon vinyl upholstery. Four turned legs support the frame, each leg with stars at the top. The legs taper into brass rollers. Provenance: Washington D.C.; Indiana, Spencer County, Gentryville; Allen County, Fort Wayne This is a studio / prop arm chair used in photographer Alexander Gardner studio when Abraham Lincoln, along with a host of other United States dignitaries, posed to have their photographs taken. The chair, one of two hundred and sixty two created in 1856-1857, was designed by capitol architect Thomas Ustick Walter and used in the United States House of Representatives Chamber, United States Capitol Building, Washington D.C. Once installed the chairs were deemed too heavy for U. S. Representatives to easily move and so were eventually sent to auction. Gardner acquired the chair at that auction. This chair remained in Alexander Gardner's family until his daughter donated it to the family's church. In turn, the church put the armchair and a letter from Lincoln to Gardner up for sale with Christie's New York auction house on May 22, 2001. The Lincoln Financial Foundation purchased the chair at that auction. It remained in the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana and in their collection until that museum closed and its collection became a part of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites collection in 2009. The Lincoln to Gardner letter, dated August 18, 1863, ( also purchased at the Christies New York auction ) is with the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites partner, in curating the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At some time in the chair’s history, the original leather was discarded and replaced with maroon vinyl upholstery. In addition, the original legs were cut down to add brass rollers. Eventually both inappropriate alterations should be repaired to return the chair to an original appearance. Abraham Lincoln posed in this chair for photographer Alexander Gardner for the first time on November 8, 1863. For more information on this chair see "Lincoln Lore" #1865, Summer 2001, pages 2-5. Part of The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the Indiana State Museum