March 23, 2008

The Abraham Lincoln Bookshop

The missus, daughter and I will heading west to the Windy City this coming weekend for a few days with friends. Chicago is a wonderful destination as many already know, filled with great restaurants, clubs, theaters, and yes, bookstores.

Any Civil War bibliophile who visits Chicago will want to pay a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop located at 357 West Chicago Avenue. In this correspondent's humble opinion, it is the finest open shop dedicated to Lincolnia and the Civil War that I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. You name it, they've got it. New titles, reading copies and the rarest of the rare. Much to the missus' humorous dismay, my wallet is always a tad thinner after visiting the ALB.

According to the shop's website, the store was established in 1938, and to this day "serves the needs of collectors and scholars, professional historians and independent writers, dedicated first edition hunters and casual history enthusiasts.

Ralph Newman, a master promoter, raconteur, one time merchant marine, minor-league baseball player and hopeless bibliophile, founded the shop in part to serve the passionate collecting needs of a small circle of friends devoted to the study of the Civil War and the Great Emancipator. Among that small circle 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, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

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 in a movement of Civil War Round Tables that meet monthly across the U.S. 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."

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