Lincoln Life Casts Turn High Tech

Lincoln Life Casts Turn High Tech


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Many notables of the past had life casting made of themselves. President Lincoln was no exception. The sculptor Leonard Volk in 1860 was commissioned by the U.S. government to do a full-size bronze casting of Lincoln's head. Volk wrote that it took about an hour to get his plaster to set up on Lincoln’s face. Lincoln complained terribly about that. The Smithsonian found out about the life casting in the 1880s, and they commissioned a company to do reproduction plaster casts of Lincoln's life mask  as well as the hands that Volk made of Lincoln. They also did bronzes. They reproduced plaster masks are valued somewhere in the $1,500 to $2,000 range today. But the priceless original still remains with the museum where it can be seen today.

Actuallly, two mask were make at different times in Lincoln’s presidency. The Smithsonian is now laser scanning many of its artifacts including the Lincoln mask and hands to save for study by others. This video describes both the Smithsonian scanning program, but also shows the finished faces and hands that we created on 3D Printers.

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