The North American Indian - Restoration

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Edward Curtis, the renowned turn-of-the-century photographer who devoted his entire life documenting all things Native American, is most famous for his Magnus opus, The North American Indian, a 20-volume set of books that was published between 1907 and 1930. The stunning visual images captured by this gifted photographer in these works can bring people to tears. But because they were marketed as an expensive subscription, they did not do well at the time. And only about 300 sets were produced.

Now, however, in addition to being rare, they’re also valuable. A full set sold for $2.88 million at auction in 2012. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science Library houses two individual volumes, which the Librarian and Conservator decided to have stabilized and mended by the Northeast Document and Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts. As you can imagine, the cost to conserve and transport these books did not come inexpensively. We are grateful for contributions from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science Library book budget, in addition to the Susan Grant Raymond and Phipps Anthropology funds.

The Librarian and the Conservator both support the Curators, staff, and volunteers of this institution. Our behind-the-scenes work enhances scientific research, exhibit quality, and the caliber of programming.

D_001_Removing Old Adhesive From Spine
Removing old adhesive from spine.

D_002_Detail Of Original Sewing Mistakes
Detail of original sewing mistakes.

D_003_Lining The Spine With Japanese Paper
Lining the spine with Japanese paper.

D_004_Resewing The Original Endsheets
Resewing the original endsheets.

D_005_Lifting The Original Leather
Lifting the original leather.

D_006_Reattached Board
Reattached board.

D_007_Mounting The Original Spine
Mounting the original spine.

D_008_Conserved Volume After Treatment
Conserved volume after treatment. 

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