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Hello everyone!  I am a collector of vintage lasers and holography and have found a very rare and special hologram I'd like to share with this group.  It is a 2.5"x4" sample of the American Eagle hologram from the cover of the March 1984 issue that is unique in two important ways.

First, it is not an embossed foil that is very thin, as on the cover.  This one is thicker, like a sticker.  In fact, the back has pressure sensitive adhesive on it that is covered with a yellowed paper that is split down the middle (for easy peeling).

Second and more important, the eagle faces to its left!  I'd like to quote a passage from the the website of James Trolinger, "The World's Worst Tourist", describing Ken Haines' memories of the job.  Ken was the one responsible for the holography.

"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."

Check out the issue.  The photographs of the eagle model are shown in the article to be facing to its left.  I am curious if any other samples of this image have been found, or are are in circulation.  This, and one other with it, were the first ones found (a couple weeks ago) within the holography community.  Neither are currently for sale.  I wonder what might be a fair market value for it, for insurance purposes.

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Fascinating read Bob, just checked my copy and my brothers and both are looking right. Do you have any that are still attached to the March 1984 issue looking to the left?

No, both are thick stickers and cut to the size mentioned above.  These were made with the same model but before the NG job came up.  The first magazine with a hologram on the cover was Amateur Photography, June 25, 1983.  It was produced by Applied Holographics.  In the production of the hologram for the cover, nickel shims are made to hot-stamp the foil onto the cover stock.  All that was needed to photo-reverse the image was to made an extra generation of nickel shim.

Anyone interested in the history of lasers or holography may visit my crude website, the Vintage Laser Archive, linked below.  The images are small, but there are a lot of them with 400 lasers in the house.

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.  

semper holography !

: - ) 

Thanks so much for sharing this with us Bob ~ ! Very interesting. Those hologram covers were quite an odyssey to get printed for sure. Check out this old prior thread here on the 'Corner related to the 1985 Taureg boy skull hologram on NGM's cover ---> 

And here's a group shot of the 3 NGM "hologram issues" --->

    ~  Scott S. 

Thank you Scott, for the references!  The Taung Child hologram was special to Ken Haines, who is also an archeologist.  They moved his holographic lab to South Africa to do the job.  There is a flaw in the exposure of it that takes a trained eye to identify.  Ken is a perfectionist.  

As an aside, Ken has been a holographer since the beginning.  He was a professor at the U of M when Leith & Upatnieks developed the "off-axis" technique and were the first to use a laser for holography in 1960.  After the NG covers, he started Simian Company (where I worked with him).  They notably made the Upper Deck trading card holograms from about 1994 to 1997.  The die cut special ones.

The third NG cover was a fiasco.  The shot of the exploding earth was tried with a pulsed laser and complex timing circuit to fire it to catch the pieces flying apart.  It didn't work.  The final image was done with a continuous wave laser in a conventional manner.  The master for the ad on the back was shot by Lasersmith in Chicago.  People at NG lost their jobs because of the job.  A big part of the delay for it was because it was the first use of casting to replicate instead of hot-stamping foil to normal cover stock.  


One other little tidbit of information about this particular issue.  The Society was not 100% sure that they could mass produce this hologram in time for the issue's release so they had an alternate cover ready to go at a moments notice.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Persons

Tom Wilson

That's very interesting Tom.  I was told many years ago that the back-up cover picture was planned to be the shot of the guy in the laser article with multi-colored laser beams shooting forward.  That guy is Pat Bischoff, then a laser technician at Spectra-Physics (an good friend at the time as I was there too).  He went on to form Laser Rays Art Productions, a pioneer in the laser light show industry as he essentially introduced high powered modified medical lasers to put out raw beams for light show use.  I'm very happy after all these years to get the story right!



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