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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mystery Man

The mystery man in the Daguerreotype below, owned by Albert Kaplan, is indeed Abraham Lincoln, one of the most-photographed men of his time and certainly the possessor of one of history's most interesting faces. Mr. Kaplan's photograph has no provenance, unlike Meserve #1, which was owned by Lincoln's son. There's a fascinating forensic analysis online if you're interested in that sort of thing. Interestingly, Alphonse Bertillon, a French anthropologist who was a pioneer of fingerprint analysis for purposes of identification, spent a large portion of his life attempting to establish identity by body measurements and did a lot of foundational work in the forensic identification of photographs. We're now back to a version of the same thing once again with recent advances in facial identification software (which I personally don't believe will ever be absolutely practical, but that's a post for another day).



Blogger Robert Edelman said...

Hi, Mike. I'm a physician (I also subscribe to the 37th frame). I have a patient who wrote the book-literally-on identifying people by way of their external ear structures. A former San Francisco police officer, this gentleman was pulled out of retirement by the U.S. government after 9/11 to help them identify people by way of their external ear structures, as only photos, and not fingerprints, were available. I am going to ask this gentleman what his opinion is regarding the Kaplan photo. Personally, I don't think it is Lincoln, but I will let him be the judge. Robert Edelman

10:56 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

That would be fascinating. I would be eager to hear what he has to say. Please email me directly and I'll post your findings to the blog.


8:28 PM  
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