Gene Hessler writes:
The image of Alexander II, that has been discussed recently was the frontispiece for a presentation book to Alexander II in 1861 from American Bank Note Company. The book resides in the Hermitage where Bill Barrett was fortunate to examine and photograph the contents. Bill provided the photos and I wrote about this presentation book in PAPER MONEY No. 215 (A Gift for a Czar) in 2001. Bill Barrett wrote an introduction to the article.
Mark Tomasko writes:
Regarding the Russian portrait on the ABN card, a die proof and/or ABN engraving records answer the question. Attached is a scan of the die proof, with the title "Alexander II" beneath the portrait. This proof is in a book of ABN portraits done for the president of ABN. It was engraved by James Bannister, a very good picture engraver for ABN whose specialty was portraits. It is die number 65 in the original series of portraits done by ABN starting in 1858. The only use I have seen of it is on the card you illustrate, which was one of the plates in the 1869 promotional book ABN produced. The portrait was done around the time of the very unusual sale ABN made to Russia in 1859 (detailed in my book) and was probably used in a presentation album at that time, perhaps the one that survives today in Russia. The portrait seems to be in the category of a "thank you" job (as they call it in the bank note industry), to honor and curry favor with a major customer. For example, ABN did a couple of unusual, large portraits of Chinese nationalist officials in the 1940s that would fall into the same category.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WHO IS THAT GENT WITH LINCOLN AND GRANT? ALEXANDER II
Wayne Homren, Editor
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