Jack Coggins

by Fred Ray on August 21, 2006 · 0 comments

I was sorry to learn of the death of artist Jack Coggins in January at age 94. His family put up a web site about him that gives the details of his life and work. Although Coggins is best known as a maritime painter, he had many other interests besides. As a kid in high school I also used to avidly read the books on space travel that he co-wrote and illustrated with other authors like Fletcher Pratt and Willy Ley.

We in the Civil War community remember him for the one book he did on the Late Unpleasantness, Arms and Equipment of the Civil War. Lavishly and accurately illustrated with precision drawings like the one below of the Sharps rifle, the book stands up well even after forty years. It is still in print in soft cover, but I found a first edition hard cover on line for only $10.

Sharps.jpg

I never met Coggins, but I did have some contact with him. When collecting the final artwork for the sharpshooter book, I wrote and asked him if I could use some the illustrations in Arms and Equipment. To tell the truth, I was surprised he was still with us. I’d queried the publisher, who informed me that Coggins still controlled all the rights. It was worth a try, so I looked up his address and sent a letter with a release form. To my surprise he signed and returned it, granting permission for the book and web site. I think it really added a lot, as it’s hard to get that kind of quality these days.

So I will always be grateful to the man, whose work I have admired for many years. I was sorry, however, to see that he passed away before being able to see the finished book. So Godspeed, Jack, and thanks.

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