Roussin, Douglas W. Plates, Belts and Swords of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Greybird Publishers, Acworth, GA. 2008. 148 pages, bibliography, b/w photos. ISBN 9780615247618, $34.95.
For those looking to collect items associated with the Grand Army of the Republic or Sons of Union Veterans it can be a mine field. Is that item real or fake, rare or common, original or repaired? It pays to be educated and for those looking at this collecting field this looks to be a must have book.
I will admit to being a novice in this area however I was fascinated by the book. It is loaded with black and white photos and has plenty of text to go along with them. Most items are given at least a 1/2 page treatment and many receive a full page including photos. The text is in a good size font and you won't have to strain to read it. The paper is a nice glossy variety that helps showcase the photos.
The book contains what the authors calls a standardized numbering system. I can't say whether the system in the book has been widely adopted or not. Also included is a rarity-scale which is used on each item. The scale is a 1-5 ranking with 1 being items encountered on a regular basis to 5 being items only rarely seen in advanced level collections. There is however no sense of what these descriptions mean in terms of numbers. I guess once you start collecting you figure it out yourself. And while the book is now five years old and things change rapidly there are no values listed for any items so a beginner is still floundering on that key point.
The book wraps up with a word on reproductions and two appendices listing dealers and makers of G.A.R. and S.O.V. swords. A brief bibliography rounds out the book.
While maybe not the definitive book on the subject this is still an interesting look at this collecting field and should be on the shelves of both dealers and collectors alike.