Dick Johnson adds the following thoughts to his earlier review of Fred Reed's new book, Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness. -Editor With a second week of reading Fred Reed's new book, Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness I am even more impressed with this work. If ever there was one book to establish an author's star position in the numismatic firmament, this is it. Reed's reputation will be forever assured as a numismatic authority with this one publication.
In last week's E-Sylum I stated I could not find even one error. It took me a week to do just that. I found one sort-of error and three typos. On page 110 the author attributes a Lincoln medal (King 284) to "Miller New York." This piece was engraved by M. Henry Miller of Louisville, Kentucky. Not that serious. The other minor typos were name spellings: Millet (page 170) and Picket (page 144) both have one "T" at the end; and John Mowbry Clark (page 189) was missing the "W."
One design criticism: the call-out keys identifying an illustration to its caption were tiny letters in tiny diamonds with shaded backgrounds. These were impossible to see with these old eyes; it required me to use a magnifying glass. Had Whitman left the diamonds open without the shading it would have improved readability.
Now I have to admit my own error. In last week's review I stated there were 926 illustrations. Atrocious arithmetic - the actual count was 967, far closer to the statement in the book of "nearly 1,000 illustrations." It could be even more than 967 counting the cover photos.
Also Whitman Publishing is to be commended for publishing this book in addition to kudos for the author. I am certain the prepublication costs were higher than most numismatic books. I cannot imagine the graphic art costs for laying out every page differently and handling that many illustrations, mostly in color. Lots of praise due there!
I anticipate more and more numismatic authors are now going to offer their manuscripts to Whitman because of the success of this book. But analyze your own work, authors. Is it a "blockbuster" like this book? Can it be sold to a wide spectrum of buyers? Too many of us are concerned with our own little collecting specialty and that is what we write about. For years I wondered how many readers wanted to buy The Coins of the Umayyads of Spain (copublished by ANS). Whitman could never publish that. (Thankfully nonprofit institutions can).
Jeff Reichenberger adds:
I have to concur with Alan Weinberg, Dennis Tucker, and Dick Johnson. As Dick described, Fred Reed's Lincoln book is an absolute "feast for the eyes". A feast for the mind as well I would add.
The never-ending images are captivating, as is the chronological history that flows throughout. A wonderful addition to any numismatic library, and further, anyone interested in Lincoln history. My copy will jump back and forth from my Lincoln history shelf to my miscellaneous numismatic interests shelf.
I was introduced to Fred Reed back in the early 80's by Bob Kincaid. I met him through an ad he placed in the Civil War Token Society journal seeking researchers interested in John Gault and U.S. civil war encased postage stamps. I had been collecting and reading about them for a while and enjoyed working with Bob. Together at the 1982 Boston ANA convention we travelled to Cambridge to visit Gault's grave and collect information.
Bob had been working on the project for some time, and he learned that Fred Reed had also been working on encased postage research. He and I joined forces with Fred, who would pull all of our research together and write the final book.
I was just a young pup in numismatic research, and gladly followed up on Fred's leads, once traveling to Princeton University to find a letter from Gault to President Lincoln. I learned that Fred was extremely thorough in searching out the facts. He would compile information from multiple sources, cross-check, and only write what he felt was justified by the information at hand. It was a very long process. Bob grew impatient, but I maintained faith, although I too, at times wondered whether the tightly-guarded manuscript would ultimately be published.
But Fred came through despite a number of obstacles and distractions that would have discouraged many a potential author. Fred was exactly the right person to lead the effort and write the book. Bob, while an enthusiastic researcher, was not the most organized, and certainly not a writer. I was a pretty good writer, but at that age not nearly as good or as organized as required for such a project. Fred pulled together a book that far eclipsed anything written on the subject before or since. I'm proud to have been a contributor, but Fred rightly deserves the credit.
Encased Postage Stamps are a topic just as narrow as the coins of the Umayyads of Spain. It wasn't easy or cheap to get the book published then, and it wouldn't be today. Fred's tireless efforts on all of his publications, from the Encased Postage, Show Me the Money and Lincoln books, plus his editing of Paper Money and writing in Bank Note Reporter all deserve the highest recognition of our hobby. -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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