The North American Indian – The Custom Edition

The Republication Project

We started working on an artisanal recreation of The North American Indian in 2012, a project that would become the largest republication project in North American publishing history, requiring over 10,000 hours of research, typesetting, layout, prototyping, proofing, and over 40,000 hours of enlisted specialists across eight diverse fields. Over four years, we created a deluxe Limited Edition, hand-bound in leather, and printed to the highest archival and artisan bookmaking standards. The recreation includes all twenty original volumes, over 5,000 pages, and extensive transcripts of Native language and music. The twenty portfolios that accompanied the original set are recreated in five oversized portfolio volumes. Each set comprises all 2,234 photographs contained in the original.

In the summer of 2018, we release our Reference Edition, a more accessibly produced and modestly priced republication. A slightly smaller, hardcover, digitally printed variation, the Reference Edition includes the full set of 20 volumes, plus the 20 additional portfolios assembled into four additional, oversized books. Every word, page, graphic, and image found in the Limited Edition is included in the Reference Edition, equally crisp, clear, and archival-quality.


Over 2,234 images accompany the rich and detailed text, representing the most widely celebrated component of The North American Indian. Christopher Cardozo Fine Art has printed Curtis images for over two decades, giving us a unique ability to print the images for this republication project. We have recreated the prints, combining the best aspects of Curtis’ photogravures with Cardozo’s award-winning platinum printmaking techniques. After extensive research and refinement, we succeeded in creating prints that are richer, more nuanced, and more accessible. Our skilled team of master printers enhanced processes that enabled us to create exceptionally beautiful reproductions. The republication of The North American Indian is unlike any project we have previously undertaken. Working with each of the 2,234 images has provided us with unique insights into Curtis’ artistic vision, and an even deeper understanding and appreciation of his work.


The original text for The North American Indian was hand-cast in metal type and letterpress printed. It is beautiful and romantic. Unfortunately, the text is often difficult to read because of the small type size, inking issues and type degradation. Requiring an additional investment of over 10,000 hours, we chose to digitize, refine, and improve all twenty Volumes, and the two and a half million words and special characters they contain. Digitizing the text retains the essential character of the original, yet it’s easier to read. Combined with contemporary printing methods, we produced the sharpest, most legible letterforms possible. Digitization of the text has also allowed us to make subtle and nuanced changes that improve the overall layout and text flow.