It makes me think of the board game, The Game of Life. It was created in 1860 by Milton Bradley, who was then known for a lithograph he made of a beardless Abraham Lincoln. Once Lincoln grew a beard, however, Bradley’s portrait lost its luster: Everyone began to associate Lincoln with his beard. (Talk about a change of meaning in imagery! Lincoln will now always have a beard until the end of time—a conclusive imprint in our minds of what he looked like, no matter how long he actually had one.)
Digitization and The Loss of Iconography
Sue Walsh
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To add some historical context to this bizarre bit of trivia…

Abraham Lincoln was clean-shaven for all of his early life.

During his presidential campaign, Grace Bedell, then 11, saw an exaggerated and poor sketch of Lincoln, and noted that his high forehead, sad eyes, and angular jawline made him not so very pleasant to behold. She wrote him a letter to that effect, and suggested that a beard might balance out his features better. He received the letter warmly, and even replied to it.

Within a month he had grown his full beard and was the president-elect.

So in essence, President Lincoln was bearded. Young Mr. Lincoln was not. It doesn’t make any earlier depictions of him worse, or less faithful to their time. One simply ought to know that if he is wearing a beard, it was after he was elected president. If not, it was before.

Bradley’s lithograph didn’t “lose its luster” as you claim, it just stopped selling. Like when a new model of a product hits the market, the older one stops selling.

And, in fact, if Bradley had continued selling his lithographs of Lincoln, he likely would never have had been forced into creating his board games! So the net result was a good thing!

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