Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop of Chicago, a Long History of Rare Collectables.

Ralph Newman, a master promoter, raconteur, one time Merchant Marine, minor-league baseball player, and hopeless bibliophile, owned a bookshop called “Home of Books” that he opened in 1932. His location was close to the Chicago Daily Newspaper offices and two of their leading journalists, Carl Sandburg and Lloyd Lewis, kept coming into the shop. They became friends with Ralph and turned his interest, over time, towards the Civil War and Lincoln studies. In 1938 Ralph decided to rename his store the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop and specialize in Lincolniana.

The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop was located at 33 North LaSalle Street in Chicago. Then in 1990, they moved to 18 East Chestnut Street until 2016, when the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop made yet another move to 824 West Superior Street, where they still serve the needs of discerning collectors, Lincoln scholars, professional historians, independent writers, dedicated first edition book hunters and casual history enthusiasts.

Among the small circle of Ralph's friends were poet Carl Sandburg, authors Bruce Catton, Otto Eisenschiml, E.B. ‘Pete’ Long, Stanley Horn, Lloyd Lewis, and T. Harry Williams, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner and William O. Douglas the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Famous 'Round Table'

Also among Newman’s circle of friends were the fifteen men who became the charter members of 'The Civil War Round Table,' the first chapter of the Civil War Round Table groups that meet monthly across the country and around the World. Round Table members from around the globe still visit the Book Shop and sit at the original “round table” while reviewing Lincoln autographs, manuscripts, artwork, or rare books.

In 1971 Daniel Weinberg entered into a partnership with Ralph Newman, and in 1984 purchased Newman’s interest to become the sole proprietor.
Daniel Weinberg, owner of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, November 7, 2016.

As suggested by the name, the Book Shop specializes in Lincolniana, material related to the Civil War, and material related to U.S. presidents. Rare books, autographs, manuscripts, works of art, statuary, and other treasures grace the bookshelves and walls. In-print books, pamphlets, historic broadsides, cartes de visite, and magnificent reproductions of Lincoln and Civil War photographs are available to those who share their love of history. Among their staff, are experts in U.S. history, publishing and bookbinding, art history, photographic history, and handwriting.
Abraham Lincoln Letters and Documents at the
Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Chicago. [Runtime 8:24]

They take pride in the ability to obtain some of the rarest historic collectibles, their wide selection of in-print and out-of-print books provide a ready resource for the new student looking to start an American history library with reasonably priced first editions of standard works. The Book Shop provides assistance to those developing new collections with their carefully assembled lists of recommended titles on Lincoln, The Essential Lincoln Book Shelf, and on the U.S. Presidency, The Essential Presidential Book Shelf. 
In 2006, Daniel Weinberg holds the second-oldest known photograph of the 16th president. The photo was purchased by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, for $150,000.

In addition to the well-stocked shelves and collecting lists, they supply important services to the history collector, offering expert appraisal services for those who wish to establish the monetary worth of family heirlooms.

The one item Daniel Weinberg says he would save from a fire is a signature in which Lincoln misspelled his name. It shows he's human.

Even though they have about the longest history of any commercial venture in the field, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop continues to develop new and exciting items for the walls and bookshelves of their friends and customers. In recent years they've brought to the market contact prints of President Lincoln from Alexander Gardner’s original collodion wet-plate glass negatives, including the most vivid image yet of the famous “Gettysburg Lincoln,” and a magnificent Imperial Salt Print of the same view. In 2001 James Swanson (a long-time customer) and Daniel Weinberg co-authored the "Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial And Execution."

Daniel Weinberg, a Lincoln scholar, states his favorite book for Abraham Lincoln's biography is Ron White's "A. Lincoln."
Samuel Wheeler, Ph.D. Former Illinois State Historian at the
Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago, Illinois. [Runtime 9:24]

The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop opened in 1938 at 33 North LaSalle Street, then moved to 18 East Chestnut Street in Chicago. 

Today, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop is located at 824 West Superior Street in Chicago. By Appointment, Online, or Zoom, (312) 944-3085. -

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent information Neil. This will definitely be on my bucket list as a must visit after the pandemic.


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