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24 Vintage Photographs of Abe Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary John Nicolay believed that no photograph could capture Honest Abe’s essence: “There are many pictures of Lincoln,” he said, “[but] there is no portrait of him.” Over 130 photographs of Lincoln exist—here are a few you may not have come across before.

The daguerreotype above, taken around 1846, is the earliest known photo of Lincoln. He was 37 years old and had just started campaigning for national office. Lincoln would later win a seat in the US House of Representatives as a member of the Whig party, a spot he held for two years.

In 1854, Lincoln returned to politics. This photo was taken in Chicago while he campaigned for a spot in the Senate. At this time, Lincoln publicly declared his distaste for slavery. He lost the election.

A reporter once described Lincoln’s mop as “Wild Republican hair.” In this 1857 photo, Abe looks like he just got out of bed.

In 1858, Lincoln squared off against Stephen Douglas for Illinois’ Senate seat. The battle sparked seven heated debates on slavery. Here, supporters gather outside Lincoln’s Springfield home. Lincoln is the tall, white figure by the doorway.

Lincoln said this was one of his favorite photographs. He used it heavily during the 1858 campaign, distributing it to supporters.

It’s the summer of 1860, and Lincoln stands outside his Springfield home with his two sons, Willie and Tad (Abe is the tall one behind the fence). Although it was the heat of his presidential run, Lincoln had time to relax at home. He made no speeches during the campaign; his success rode on a wave of outside support.

When Lincoln won the election, an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell wrote the President-elect a letter: “You would look a great deal better [if you grew a beard] for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.” Lincoln took her advice, and his beard was born. In this early 1861 photograph, you can see Lincoln growing out his famous stubble. Lincoln later visited the little girl and told her, “Gracie, look at my whiskers. I have been growing them for you.”

Here’s what the crowd looked like at Lincoln’s 1861 inauguration. The Capitol Building’s dome was still incomplete.

Here, Lincoln stands with Allan Pinkerton (left) and Gen. John McClernand (right). Pinkerton was a Union spy who had saved Lincoln’s life by foiling an early assassination plot. McClernand, an Illinois democrat, was one of Lincoln’s closest friends.

Lincoln greets some troops after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. General McClernand stands far right while Lincoln faces Gen. George McClellan (middle). McClellan, who was not fond of the president, would run against Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election.

Lincoln with McClellan after Antietam. Antietam was the first major Civil War battle to happen on Union soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history: 23,000 casualties and over 3,500 killed.

Lincoln sits with his private secretaries, John Nicolay (left) and John Hay (right), on November 8, 1863. Hay wrote in his diary that it was the best picture of the President he had ever seen.

Lincoln before giving the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. He’s the hatless one in the very middle. Lincoln’s famous speech was only 10 sentences long.

Lincoln walks to the podium to give the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln appears to be the figure in the middle, his iconic stovepipe hat peeping over the crowd, though other historians believe Lincoln is elsewhere in the crowd.

Lincoln addresses the crowd at his second inauguration ceremony in January March 1865.

Here’s a close-up, as Lincoln reads from the podium.

It’s 1865, and Abe sports a frazzled hairdo that’s a wee bit ahead of his time. It’s believed that Lincoln combed his hair high in this picture because he had a life mask appointment.

Lincoln with his son, Tad, in 1865. By this time, Lincoln had already lost his son Willie to typhoid.

Lincoln reads with his son, Tad, in February 1865. This is the only known picture of Lincoln wearing spectacles. It’s also no surprise that Lincoln is holding a book. Lincoln had only one year of schooling, but his deep love of reading catapulted him ahead of his formally educated competitors.

This is Lincoln’s last portrait, purportedly taken on April 10, 1865—one week before his assassination. It’s also one of the few portraits that shows Lincoln grinning.

Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865, at Ford’s Theater. Lincoln’s body toured the US for three weeks. The funeral train stopped in New York on April 25 and was displayed in City Hall, shown here.

Lincoln’s hearse proceeds through New York City. The house on the left corner is the home of Cornelius Roosevelt, the grandfather of Teddy Roosevelt. You can see Teddy and his brother, Elliott, peering out the shuttered window on the second story.

Lincoln’s Hearse.

By 1900, Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield, Ill. was falling apart. Plans to renovate the tomb were made, and his body was exhumed, shown here. His coffin was then opened to ensure that burglars hadn’t stolen anything. His body was incredibly well preserved: everything—including his beard—was still intact.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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