- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006

CHICAGO (AP) — About a decade ago, as she was starting to research Abraham Lincoln, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin stepped into a small bookshop devoted to the nation’s 16th president.

She expected a dusty little store, but what she found was practically a museum, filled with books, documents, photographs and other historical gems that for decades have been making collectors, history buffs and the nation’s leading historians fans of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop.

Mrs. Goodwin made several pilgrimages to the bookstore and bought dozens of books that helped her write her best-selling “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”

“It really stands by itself,” said Mrs. Goodwin, who thanked the store’s owner, Daniel Weinberg, in her book and returned there in November for a book signing. “I certainly don’t know of any other like it.”

The store, founded in 1938, stands as a monument to a man who more than 140 years after his death continues to make headlines as scholars and others put forth theories about everything from his physical and mental health to his sexuality.

Poet Carl Sandburg, whose six-volume book on Lincoln is considered by many to be one of the greatest biographies ever written, was a regular visitor and designed the store’s hat and umbrella logo.

Filmmaker Ken Burns and U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas visited. Historians Bruce Catton and Shelby Foote were customers, and their work is sprinkled around the store.

“I’ve dropped a bundle there,” said Frank Williams, sounding more like a gambler talking about a trip to Las Vegas than the chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. He has been a collector of what is called “Lincolniana” since he was 11.

“I try to make this a museum in a way,” said Mr. Weinberg, who became the business partner of shop founder Ralph Newman in 1971 and has owned the store outright since 1984.

There is what Mr. Weinberg said is the second-earliest photograph of Lincoln, taken in 1854 when he was 45 years old. The photograph is interesting not just because it shows a clean-shaven Lincoln, but also because he is holding an anti-slavery newspaper.

“If anyone would have noticed, that would have sunk him,” said Mr. Weinberg, explaining that any connection with abolitionism would have been political suicide.

Mr. Weinberg won’t come closer than “hundreds of thousands of dollars” when asked the price of the most expensive items he has sold. Hanging in his office is the one thing he said is not for sale: A letter dated Sept. 14, 1863, in which the author of the Gettysburg Address commits a memorable error.

“There was not much going on that day, [and] he signed it ‘A. Linclon,’” said Mr. Weinberg, pointing to a signature that has been crossed out above one in which the name is spelled correctly. “His mind got lost.”


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