The "Wrong-Way Eagle"

Holography related topics.
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The "Wrong-Way Eagle"

Post by BobH » Sat May 23, 2020 12:43 pm

A couple years ago I bought a very rare and special hologram from Hans Bjelkhagen that he found tucked away in his collection that 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."

I spoke with Ken, who confirmed that this sample is 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.
Wrong Way Eagle.jpg
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Re: The "Wrong-Way Eagle"

Post by holomaker » Sat May 23, 2020 3:33 pm

I’ve got one !

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Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:23 am

Re: The "Wrong-Way Eagle"

Post by Nnnn » Wed May 27, 2020 11:08 am

That's awesome! Thanks for sharing this piece of history + amusing story!

It's amazing how far that eagle got around.

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