The Second piece I acquired from Heritage DeWitt Auction a Frémont Ferrotype
Here is the second piece I acquired from the DeWitt sale, a John Frémont ferrotype. A ferrotype features an actual photograph of the candidate. They were introduced. in a very small way, in 1856, but saw wide-spread use in 1860. They were printed on a thin sheet of iron which was cut into pieces. The chemicals that were used to produce these photographs were too caustic to use on paper or cardboard.
John C. Frémont was the first Republican presidential candidate in 1856. He was known as a daring explorer (The Pathfinder) and a strong opponent of slavery. (“free soil, free speech, free men and eternal progression.”)
An 1856 Fremont campaign medalet
In 1864 he headed up a third party, the Radical Democracy Party. They were dissatisfied with Lincoln’s performance in office. Lincoln had not moved fast enough against slavery, and he was too slow to push for African-American civil rights. The party also included some Democrats who were not happy with the perception that the members of their party had not prosecuted the war against the Confederacy vigorously enough. The Radical Democracy Party nominated Fremont in late May 1864.
An 1864 Frémont campaign medal (diameter 40 mm) that includes a "tall tale" that Frémont defeated Stonewall Jackson!
The Radical Democracy Party never got very much traction with the voters. By September it was obvious that they could not win. All they could do was drain votes from Lincoln which could throw the win to the Democrats who had nominated Union General, George McClellan. (McClellan was still a general, but Lincoln had put his career in mothballs after he failed to pursue the Confederate Army following the Battle of Antietam.) Fremont withdrew from the race.
An 1864 McClellan campaign token
I was looking to purchase a Frémont ferrotype. The lot before this piece was quite nice, and I was prepared to bid several hundred dollars more than the previous high price for that piece. I was blown out of the water almost immediately as the final bid was more than double my offer.
This piece did not get as many bids because of the dark line to left of Frémont. It was a flaw in the manufacture of the piece, not a post-production defect. This is the piece that was plated in the DeWitt reference book, and it is the only example of this variety that Heritage has sold. I think that it is quite rare.