by Christina Cavanaugh
There is a significant difference between interest and appreciation and for years that has been a fine line for me when it comes to history. And then I discovered this great little bookshop in northwest Chicago. I’m not going to say that Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. has magically made me remember the order of the terms of the U.S. presidents…but it’s piqued and held my interest, as well, its awoken my inner child (the one who years ago was fascinated by the Civil War and historic Americana.) It’s definitely more than can be said for any of my other experiences thus far with history and that in itself takes a lot.
Located in Chicago, Illinois the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. has proved that old things can still be new, or at least rediscovered. From the relaxed history connoisseurs to the die-hard antique aficionados, people of all ages and walks of life will be enchanted by the inventory of the store.
Perhaps, then, there’s even room for a jaded history gal like me.
The store contains all kinds of literary works and miscellaneous tchotchkes, everything from books themselves, manuscripts and autographed materials to pieces of art and other collectable items. Not only is the store stuffed with pieces that will help make any collection complete, they’ve even gone so far as to draw up lists of the ideal titles that will take a collection from novice to expert.
The store’s website is all but flawless, updated frequently in order to make sure that its patrons can be kept up-to-date on the new treasures that have been incorporated into the store’s collections. An active platform for a store that specializes in what might not be called the most active field.
However, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. is not only for those who wish to buy. Amidst the collection of unique and astonishing pieces of art that make up its catalog, experts in history and book production can also be found. The store also offers appraisal services that help determine the value of pieces of history already held by potential customers. In addition, reprint services are available for consumers in need.
Founded in 1938 by jack-of-all-trades Ralph Newman, the store was originally intended to whet the appetites of collectors who aimed to learn more about the Civil War and Lincoln himself. 1971 saw the business enter into a partnership between Newman and Daniel Weinberg, and in 1984 Newman gracefully bowed out of the business, allowing Weinberg to purchase the rights to become its sole owner.
Despite the store’s historic subject matter, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. still manages to find fresh, new pieces to add to its collection on a regular basis. Those pieces range from everything from strictly Lincoln-based artifacts to pieces that highlight the former prestige of all U.S. presidents.
The store also facilitates speeches by experts of the genre and allows for the knowledge of connoisseurs to grow, hosting both live and virtual events that invite authors, specialists and other knowledgeable persons to discuss their passion for the field. The events serve as a breeding ground for intellectual discussion that leave everyone involved feeling as though they’ve learned something by the end of the it all.
So while I may not be rushing off to participate in a Civil War re-enactment or booking trips through the historical sites, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. has definitely reignited a lost interest and appreciation for the history of our great nation and it is one place I’ll be visiting the next time I pass through Chicago.
Christina Cavanaugh is a rising senior at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA., where she is a triple major in Journalism, English and Spanish. She is an editor of her school’s paper and is currently pursuing an honors thesis based on portrayal of women’s roles in British Renaissance literature. When she’s not reading, writing, editing or studying, she can be found volunteering her time as an EMT-B.