Consumers find credit cards share interest in history CHARGE

July 04, 1995|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Sun Staff Writer

From the outside, it looked like most of the 8,000 credit card offers that arrive in the mail every week at my house. No annual fee, low introductory interest rate, accident insurance, a large enough credit line to destroy my life in one weak moment alone with the Pottery Barn catalog.

Except this solicitation was addressed to "Laura Lippman, Civil War enthusiast." Fascinating. A credit card had found my unplumbed depths, depths not even I had plumbed.

Inside was this battle cry: "Heed the call to carry a Civil War Series Visa card [with] five strategic advantages." In other words, you'll take Nordstrom's like Grant took Richmond.

With an even-handed approach, Visa straddles the Mason-Dixon line, offering two reproductions of scenes painted by Mort Kunstler. Federal enthusiasts can choose "Chamberlain's Charge," which shows Col. Joshua Chamberlain at Gettysburg, the three-day battle fought 132 years ago this week. Johnny Rebs will prefer "I Will Be Moving Within the Hour," with General Robert E. Lee "in thoughtful conference with Generals Jackson, Stuart and Longstreet just prior to the Battle of Second Manassas." (Very clever, using the Southern-centric "Manassas"

over the Yankee-ordained Bull Run.)

The marketing siege continues: "Lost your card visiting a famous battle field? A replacement is on its way in 24 hours of your request. Found the perfect musket to add to your collection? . . . All net purchases made with your Civil War Series credit card earn you points you can use to save on commemoratives for your Civil War collection."

Well, I haven't found the perfect musket yet, but the Danbury Mint's Civil War collection may tempt me yet. (Do they have a ceramic statute of Lee's horse, Traveler, with an alarm clock in its belly?) In the meantime, I can't help thinking MNBA America Bank, which is offering this Visa card, should tailor its approach to other great moments in military history. Today, on the 219th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, put your John Hancock on one of these cards.

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