In 2005 as I was wrapping up the proofreading for my regimental history of the 26th NY Infantry, I learned of and ultimately bought a collection of 37 previously unseen Civil War and post-war letters from two New York brothers, one of whom served in the 26th. Clinton DeWitt Staring served throughout the war in the 26th NY and then the 3rd NY Light Artillery, Mercer's Battery C. His brother, Charles, briefly served in the 121st NYSV. I was able to weave some of the material into my regimental at the absolute last minute, but for the most part, these letters pertained to the other units.
The material was way too short and mundane for a regular publishing house to produce. However, given my love for fine, handmade books, I slowly laid plans to self-publish these letters in a very limited quantity. Two years later, the result was a 100-copy fine press limited edition entitled "Give My Love to All Our Folks:" Civil War and Post-War Letters of Clinton DeWitt Staring and Charles E. Staring."
Working with Chad Pastotnik and his Deep Wood Press, the finished product was quite literally a handmade effort. I describe the book at my website thusly: "This fully annotated, slender collection of 37 heretofore unseen letters offers a glimpse into a Civil War-era New York family through the letters of DeWitt and Charles as they write home to a third brother, Wellington. The book has been lovingly created by Deep Wood Press in a limited edition of only 100 copies. Using the highest quality materials and hand book binding techniques, this volume has been designed to appeal to not only the Civil War student, but to the connoisseur of fine press bookmaking as well. "Old world" craftsmanship at its finest!
The edition is comprised of 74 signed and numbered trade copies printed in three colors on Fox River Teton paper, 1/4 bound in gray book cloth and blue Hahnemuhle Bugra paper, copper foil stamped title on spine and cover. Also, an additional 26 slipcased, signed, and lettered deluxe copies printed in three colors on mould made Frankfurt paper by Zerkall. Hand bound 3/4 in gray Harmatan goatskin and blue Hahnemuhle Bugra paper, copper foil stamped title on spine and cover, slipcases covered in gray book cloth with copper foil stamped title. Composed in Intertype and ATF Garamond types. 6 1/2 x 9 3/4", 80 pages." Considering the quality of materials, the limited nature of the project and the labor costs involved, the trade edition was priced at $75 with the deluxe edition priced at $125. [click on pictures for larger images]
Let me be the first to admit that the book is my homage to the world of fine press bookmaking - "bookmaking as art" is how I would describe it. I think anyone would agree that there is a strong parallel between this type of work and others presented at this blog. The content of the letters however, cannot be considered an important addition to the Civil War's body of knowledge, though there are certainly very interesting passages, including Charles' description of the battle of Fredericksburg and his hastily drawn map of the same. Therefore, as expected, sales of this limited edition have been stronger in the fine press book community than in the Civil War community. That said, I'm offering a special deal to visitors of this blog. If you would like to own one, I will offer remaining copies at 40% off through May. That works out to $45 for the trade and $75 for the leatherbound limited. Add 5 bucks for shipping. Just shoot me an email and mention this blog. Cheers.