My name is Richard Friend. I grew up in Laurel, Maryland in the 1970s–80s; and although I've been a Northern Virginia resident for over 20 years now, I've become very involved with documenting Laurel's history since starting my Lost Laurel blog back in 2011.
In 2013, I wrote and designed Lost Laurel—a book that was successfully produced thanks to Kickstarter.
In fact, it became a Kickstarter Project of the Day, which allowed even greater visibility and was crucial in providing additional funding to increase the pages count and produce a hardcover edition of the book.
In the process of creating Lost Laurel, I started collecting historic postcards from the area. I didn't realize until recently just how prolific Laurel actually was when it came to postcards. For a town this small, I would've expected maybe 20–30 different cards over the years. Much larger cities in the region didn't produce many more than that. So you can imagine my surprise when I counted over 125 different cards—cards that document everything from the expected landmarks like the famous Laurel Race Course, to restaurants, schools, churches, motels, bridges, mills, diners, municipal buildings, and typical street views of the time.
And so I thought it entirely appropriate that I follow up Lost Laurel with a book that showcases this collection.
I'm excited to announce Postmark Laurel: Historic Picture Postcards of Laurel, Maryland.
A Postcard Book?
Postcards tell the story of a special time and place. In an era long before smartphones could photograph and instantly send pictures via text, people relied on postcards as a way to send a note to loved ones from a special place along their journey.
Postmark Laurel is over 250 pages of these postcards, faithfully reproduced—front and back—at their full size. While there's no way to tell exactly how many total different postcards from Laurel exist, this will be without question the definitive collection of them ever published in book form. Many of these cards are exceptionally rare. And in some cases, the correspondence on them are as entertaining as the images themselves:
If you're from Laurel, Maryland, you'll be amazed at the sheer volume of postcards that were produced from our hometown. And the collective story they tell paints a broad view of life in Laurel over the course of the 20th century.
Stories within stories
Some of the cards are, quite frankly, amazing in and of themselves. For instance, there were multiple postcards depicting the Laurel Sanitarium.
Were these intended for guests of the sanitarium? I can't say for sure.
But an earlier postcard of the Brewster Park Hotel has a unique connection to the Laurel Sanitarium...
In 1908, the large, vacant hotel was moved—pulled by a team of horses along greased telephone poles from its original location on Talbott Avenue to the Laurel Sanitarium, where it became the men's dormitory shown on the right of the sanitarium postcards.
Designing + producing the book
Book design is something I've had a good deal of experience with since graduating from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 1997. I've designed books and museum exhibition catalogs for clients such as Time-Life Books, the Smithsonian Institution, the Folger Shakespeare Library, National Geographic, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Designing books of my own, however, is truly a labor of love.
At a minimum, I'm currently planning on a 250-page softcover book, published by a reputable printer. Like Lost Laurel, the book will be 7" x 7" and full-color throughout. However, with additional funding, I hope to upgrade the book—by adding to the page count, printing on a premium stock, and/or featuring a hardcover version.
All of the postcards have been scanned and optimized, and the design of the book is already over 95% complete.
In exchange for your help in getting this book printed, I'm parting with the original postcards themselves. Some of the rarest historic Laurel postcards in my collection—the exact cards that were scanned for this book—are available as rewards for various pledge levels. You'll not only receive one of the first copies of the book itself, you'll get one of these authentic pieces of Laurel history.
Cards available exclusively through this Kickstarter campaign:
Special package deals
Exclusively for supporters of this Kickstarter campaign, you can pledge to buy two- and three-book packages at significant discounts. You'll save $10 when buying two books, and you'll save $20 when purchasing three. If you're planning to buy multiple books (they'll make great gifts, you know!) now is the perfect opportunity to do it.
Risks and challenges
The only real challenge is the funding itself. Printing a quality book is expensive—there are no two ways around it. The final cost depends on both page count and total quantity of books ordered. There's also the cost of fulfillment and mailing. An endeavor like this can easily end up costing over $10,000.
I've set the Kickstarter goal at the minimum amount I'll need to safely produce an approximately 250-page softcover book, because it's literally all or nothing. If the campaign doesn't reach its goal, I don't receive ANY of the pledges—and then it's back to square one. However, if we EXCEED the goal, I can actually increase the page count, produce hardcover editions, and explore other publishing upgrades.
Completing the design, proofreading, and having the book printed and ready to distribute by July 2019 is my goal. This will ensure plenty of time before the holidays, as many supporters will undoubtedly want to purchase copies as Christmas gifts.
Because I have already designed over 95% of the book, there is actually a very good chance that the book will be ready to mail before the deadline.
Some delays may occur if printer's proofs require any modification. In the event that there are problems with image quality, color, etc., I may need some time to confer with printing representatives, and/or supply them with updated files. This would simply be a quality control issue that wouldn't drastically impact the overall schedule.
Last, but not least—the mail. We all know that the postal service can be hit or miss. For all orders that will require shipping, I plan to use USPS and will secure the packages to the best of my ability with heavily-padded envelopes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)