Curtis had the support of the wealthiest man in the world, J.P. Morgan, and the president of the world’s most powerful country, Theodore Roosevelt. More importantly, an estimated 10,000 Native people were active participants and co–creators of his work. Curtis achieved what he did only through the active support and participation of thousands of individuals and institutions. Together, they left us with an unparalleled legacy, and today The North American Indian remains an iconic American publication.
As we approach the 150th Anniversary of Edward Curtis’ birthday in 2018, this republication project is intended to both honor Edward Curtis and his Native co-creators, as well as satisfy the previously unfulfilled demand for a high quality, contemporary edition of Curtis’ classic magnum opus.
RECREATING THE TEXT
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.
Although it is requiring a further 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 the special characters contained therein. Digitizing the text proved ideal for this artisanal edition of The North American Indian, as it retains the essential character of the original, yet is discernibly easier to read and more accessible to contemporary readers. Combined with contemporary printing methods, the digital type produces the sharpest, most legible letter forms for the text, and using the same typeface family as the original allows us to retain much of the original elegance. Digitization of the text has also allowed us to make subtle and nuanced changes that improve the overall layout and text flow.
Digital Creation Of Custom Font
Original Letterpress Printed Text At Left, Digitally Remastered Text At Right (8x Enlargement)
RECREATING THE PHOTOGRAVURES
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 prints combining the best aspects of Curtis’ photogravures with his award-winning platinum exhibition prints. After extensive research and development, we believe we have succeeded in creating prints that, while inspired by the original photogravures, are richer, more nuanced and more accessible. Our skilled team of master printers have created unique processes that enable us to consistently create exceptionally beautiful reproductions. The republication of The North American Indian is unlike any project we have previously undertaken and 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 Curtis’ work.
Volume III, Pipe Bags, 1908