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Thread: The Wrong-Way Eagle

  1. #1
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    Default The Wrong-Way Eagle

    I believe I may have acquired one of the rarest holograms there is for a collector of such things, and thought I'd share it here. Everyone here is probably familiar with the March 1984 issue of National Geographic that had a nice large article about lasers and a hologram of an eagle on the cover. That hologram reached more eyes than probably any other hologram in history, and kickstarted the embossed holography industry.

    The story of the cover hologram is told in the article, but there's a backstory. That tale was told by Ken Haines (who shot the hologram) to Jim Trolinger who I quote here from his website:

    "The first NG cover hologram was an eagle, embossed on the cover of the March 1984 issue. But the eagle had already appeared on another much less publicized cover. The wife of the president of American Banknote, who was designing the ABN annual report, had provided the eagle and asked Ken to produce a hologram for that report cover to represent the company’s new product. The model was, unfortunately, almost an inch larger than could be accommodated by the largest embossing master of the day, requiring the wings to be broken and moved closer to the eagle's body. At some point the poor mutilated eagle appeared much less regal and the holographers began calling it their "chicken" model. The hologram was completed and became a great success, producing a very attractive cover that almost everyone saved.

    Then came the National Geographic opportunity with a fuse so short that the best way to meet the tight schedule was to reuse the eagle. Nevertheless, a number of problems, such as alignment of the embossing machine with the cover, remained unsolved for such a huge production. National Geographic had imposed a "drop dead" date on which American Banknote was required to produce 10,000 covers to be given the go ahead. More than once, key people walked away in frustration before returning to the meet the challenge. The team worked all night up until minutes before the NG team arrived for inspection to pass this milestone.
    One subtle mistake made early in production was having the eagle facing to the left. Eventually someone pointed out that an eagle facing to the left is symbolic for defeat, while one facing right symbolizes victory. The mistake was quickly corrected and a new batch of holograms was made. A few copies of the "wrong way eagle" hologram had already been handed out as samples when the rest were destroyed. Copies of the original "Wrong way eagle" hologram are already prized collector's items."

    A couple weeks ago, a couple of these Wrong-Way Eagle holograms were found in the collection of Dr. Hans Bjelkhagen. Hans has been making holograms and researching holographic films since the late 1960s. I was in the process of buying a few of his old holograms when these were found as he searched through his old plates, and I got him to include one with the group. Everything looks correct about it and I believe it to be original, but I have contacted Ken to authenticate it and await his reply.

    Check out the magazine. In the article section about the making of the hologram, the photographs of the model show it to be facing its left while the hologram image faces to its right. It was possible to produce a "mirror reversed" image by making another generation of nickel shims from the master.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    Default

    I just received confirmation from Ken Haines that these samples are authentic. He mentioned that he personally does not have one, and has never heard of another being found. This hologram was groundbreaking. Although not the first use of a hologram on a magazine cover, its enormous distribution effectively made it so in the public eye. For holography, it was a major score. For this collection, this hologram is priceless.

  3. #3
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    Default

    So you got one of these rare wrong-way eagles?
    If so, I assume that your camera was mirrored when you took the picture since in the picture the eagle is facing to the right.
    If not, still a very nice piece of history with an amazing back story.

  4. #4
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    The correct view is like on the dollar and the magazine, with the eagle facing ITS right. The rare view is facing to ITS left, as shown above.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Got it now.

    "IT'S" amazing how such a little word can cause such confusion.

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