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mmarotta

Abraham Lincoln: Beyond the American Icon

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Far beyond the cent and $5 FRN, Abraham Lincoln is the subject of a broad and deep treasury of numismatic, philatelic, and exonumic material. This new book from Whitman (2013, 448 pages, $29.95) is the second from Reed, following the 2009 release of Abraham Lincoln: Images of His Greatness.

 

To fund America's entry into World War I, in 1917, Congress authorized the issue of bonds denominated at $5000. Lincoln's portrait from the $5 Federal Reserve Note graced the new promissory paper.

 

Medals, medallions, movie posters, political buttons for Lincoln (of course) and for many candidates who wanted to be associated with him, and therefore, much of the paper ephemera of the Republican National Committee's quadrennial conventions. This lavishly illustrated book offers full-page and two-page spreads of significant or large-size items, and also page after page of two, three, or four examples: Log Cabin maple syrup might seem obvious; and candy bars might be unusual, but how about a fantasy baseball card showing him at bat for the Springfield Nine?

 

Each item is attributed, some with detailed narratives, most with at least a paragraph about the time, place, and occasion of the issuer.

 

Numismatics is all about history. Absent the documentation, the stuff has little meaning. These items and the book itself deliver a rich tapestry of artifacts celebrating the martyred president. Starting with the grief of his assassination to the 2008 presidential election, from coins to casino chips and pogs, statues, actors, and impersonators, this book is a catalog of the mundane, glorious, humorous, and humble modes in which the people of America remember Abraham Lincoln.

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