It Can't Happen Here project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound
$458 pledged of $3,500 goal
backers
$458 pledged of $3,500 goal
backers

About

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel, It Can't Happen Here, about a populist candidate who campaigns as a buffoon, is elected President of the United States, becomes a demagogue and establishes a fascist government.

The protagonist is editor of a Vermont newspaper. When the government installs someone in his office to be sure only the right news is printed, he joins the New Underground resistance and clandestinely publishes a series of pamphlets titled Vermont Vigilance. Since the distribution of all printing equipment is monitored, they steal "an old hand printing-press" from the basement of the newspaper office, and 8-point type, a pocketful at a time.

About a year ago I started thinking about doing a binding on the first edition. While searching for a copy I came across a bookseller who had the original sketch that Sinclair Lewis did for the dust jacket.

Original sketch by Sinclair Lewis for the dust jacket of It Can't Happen Here.
Original sketch by Sinclair Lewis for the dust jacket of It Can't Happen Here.

 I acquired it, and two copies of the first edition. One is a nice copy in a dust jacket.

Dust jacket on the first edition.
Dust jacket on the first edition.

Below is a photo of the original binding that was protected by the jacket. The symbol stamped on the cover, which also is on the spine of the dust jacket above, is called a fasces. It is a bundle of sticks tied together with an axe emerging. A symbol of authority in ancient Rome, it was adopted in Italy by Mussolini's party in 1919. Fasces is the root of the words fascist and fascism. 

The publisher's binding on the first edition.
The publisher's binding on the first edition.

When this book was published in 1935 Americans were very familiar with the fasces symbol, not just because Mussolini and Hitler used it, but it had been on the back of the United States dime since 1916:

Reverse of US Dime, 1916-1945
Reverse of US Dime, 1916-1945

To make the book into a work of art I incorporated the fasces in my design for the spine and bound it in alum tawed goatskin with a cover of pied 8-point type, my blood, and acrylic paint:

My binding in alum tawed goatskin, gold, 8-point type, my blood and acrylic paint..
My binding in alum tawed goatskin, gold, 8-point type, my blood and acrylic paint..
The first edition, in my binding of alum tawed goatskin with pied 8-point type, my blood, acrylic paint and gold.
The first edition, in my binding of alum tawed goatskin with pied 8-point type, my blood, acrylic paint and gold.
The endpaper is my printing of Vermont Vigilance on William Morris's Albion handpress.
The endpaper is my printing of Vermont Vigilance on William Morris's Albion handpress.

The next step would normally be to make a box or slipcase for the book, but I wanted to include additional items—Sinclair Lewis's original manuscript sketch for the dust jacket, a copy of the first edition in its original binding and jacket, copies of Vermont Vigilance, and a 1935 dime. I decided to build a cabinet for all the elements in the form of a fasces that would open to become a display. I've started construction, and am using this Kickstarter to raise funds to help pay for the time it will take me to complete it.

The cabinet will be 38" tall and 8" in diameter. First I made three cardboard models half size that opened in different ways.

One of the half-scale cardboard models of the cabinet.
One of the half-scale cardboard models of the cabinet.

Then I started construction of the cabinet:

The fasces cabinet under construction
The fasces cabinet under construction

Using full size facsimiles of the contents, I am now working on the interior of the cabinet, deciding where to put shelves, compartments, and displays, using cardboard mockups. Once the interior design is final I will use the cardboard pieces as templates for cutting the wood parts. The exterior will remain unfinished until the inside design is final, because some of the wood rods may have to be temporarily removed for attaching interior parts.

Experimenting with different arrangements of the cabinet interior
Experimenting with different arrangements of the cabinet interior

If you got this far and would like to see a photo album of this project on facebook, with many more stages of the construction of the book and cabinet, click here.  "Like" my facebook page to follow the progress of this and future projects. You also can see albums of previous projects there.

Get a special gift for your support!

A Bookmark with my spine design for It Can't Happen Here

Bookmark stamped from the die used for the spine of the binding.
Bookmark stamped from the die used for the spine of the binding.

This bookmark is stamped on shiny coated paper that I acquired in 1980 for use as record labels, and has a peel-off adhesive back, in case you want to do something else with it. You can choose this as a reward for a pledge of $10.

The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930, Paperback Edition

The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930 Paperback Edition
The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930 Paperback Edition

"…this is one book you don't want to miss.”
       – Fine Books & Collections Magazine.

Ready to ship in December is the Paperback Edition of my book The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930. At the end of the 19th century book covers were revered as works of art. Publishers commissioned distinguished artists such as Maxfield Parrish and Rockwell Kent to create exquisite covers that brought Modernism into American homes. Many of the most successful cover artists were women, such as Margaret Armstrong and Sarah Wyman Whitman. The Art of American Book Covers is an entertaining and educational retrospective, lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred full-color plates.. You can get a copy in your local bookstore for $24.95, or at a discount on amazon.com, but if you select it as a $25 reward here on Kickstarter your copy will be inscribed to you or the person of your choice.

The Book Art of Richard Minsky | My Life in Book Art

My Life in Book Art | The Book Art of Richard Minsky.
My Life in Book Art | The Book Art of Richard Minsky.

Ready to ship in December is The Book Art of Richard Minsky | My Life in Book Art, a full color autobiographical art book.You can get a copy in your local bookstore for $34.95, or at a discount on amazon.com, but if you select it as a $35 reward here on Kickstarter your copy will be inscribed to you or the person of your choice, and will come in a clear archival dust jacket. 

 Vermont Vigilance

Vermont Vigilance
Vermont Vigilance

 This is my reification of the fictional pamphlet published by the New Underground resistance in the novel, printed on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology, in April 2017. It has three printed pages (one folded sheet). 32 copies were printed on Mohawk Superfine, an acid-free paper. See the description of this $75 reward for more details.

Below is a photo of the press while I was printing this. It was originally owned by the English artist, author and social activist William Morris.

The Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at RIT Cary Collection.
The Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at RIT Cary Collection.

 Ὁ Τυραννικὸς Ἀνὴρ | The Tyrant

While Artist-in-Residence at the RIT Cary Collection working on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion pictured above I also printed a quote from Plato's Republic, in Greek, making eight small editions on different mouldmade and handmade papers. You can read more about these prints here. Each is accompanied by a 10" x 13" translation printed by archival pigment inkjet on Rives Heavyweight paper. Below are photos of the prints on white or cream Rives BFK paper, and of the translation

Ὁ Τυραννικὸς Ἀνὴρ printed on Rives BFK White
Ὁ Τυραννικὸς Ἀνὴρ printed on Rives BFK White
Ὁ Τυραννικὸς Ἀνὴρ printed on Rives BFK Cream
Ὁ Τυραννικὸς Ἀνὴρ printed on Rives BFK Cream
The Tyrant, English translation on Rives Heavyweight paper, 10" x 13"
The Tyrant, English translation on Rives Heavyweight paper, 10" x 13"

 The Art of American Book Covers 1975-1930, Hardcover Edition

The Art of American Book Covers, hardcover edition
The Art of American Book Covers, hardcover edition

See the description of the paperback edition above. There were two printings of this hardcover edition in 2010.  Both sold out quickly, and the publisher, George Braziller, Inc., decided to issue it only in paperback after that. I still have a few copies, and if you choose this $125 reward I'll sign and inscribe one to you or the person of your choice, and make a clear polyester dust jacket for it.

The Philosophy of Umbrellas

The Philosophy of Umbrellas
The Philosophy of Umbrellas

An essay by Robert Louis Stevenson printed on Tyvek and made into an umbrella. More details and a video at http://minsky.com/umbrellas.htm

M

M, a monotype printed on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion
M, a monotype printed on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion

M is a unique 23" x 32" print, not an edition, that I made on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion while artist-in-residence in April, 2017 at the RIT Cary Collection. More information about it is here.

You also might like to see my other works about social issues.

Thank you for looking. Please contact me if you have any questions.

IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE.

Risks and challenges

There are always creative and technical challenges in making it work. With over 50 years of experience to draw on, coming up with new concepts and methods is what makes it worth doing.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    It Can't Happen Here Bookmark

    A bookmark with my design for the spine of It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, First Edition 1935. Stamped from the same copper die used for the binding, on black coated paper with a peel-off adhesive backing.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Art of American Book Covers, Signed

    The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930 by Richard Minsky, paperback edition, Published by George Braziller, Inc., 2013. Signed by the author (me!) and inscribed to you or the person of your choice.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    The Book Art of Richard Minsky, signed

    The Book Art of Richard Minsky | My Life in Book Art by Richard Minsky, Foreword by Betty Bright, published by George Braziller, Inc., 2011. Signed by the author (me) and inscribed to you or the person of your choice. In a clear polyester dust jacket.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Vermont Vigilance

    This is the reification of a fictional four page pamphlet in It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1935), a novel in which a populist president is elected in the USA and becomes a demagogue. All laws were made to benefit corporations. After the 2016 election it became a best seller. Vermont Vigilance is published by the New Underground resistance on "an old hand printing-press" stolen from the basement of the newspaper office where the protagonist was editor, using 8 point type stolen a pocketful at a time. One way of distributing the pamphlets was to surreptitiously insert them into other publications.
    Vermont Vigilance was printed by me on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology, in April, 2017, when I was Artist-in-Residence. This is not a reproduction, since the original never existed as a real artifact. It is set in typefaces that were popular at the time the story takes place (1938): Old English for the masthead, 8 point Times New Roman for the body, and Goudy Sans for the headlines.
    You can read more about this iconic hand printing press, which was originally used in 1896 to print the Kelmscott Chaucer, at http://www.rit.edu/news/story.php?id=50462

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Ὁ Τυραννικὸς Ἀνὴρ | The Tyrant -Cream

    A quote from Book 9 of Plato's Republic, in Greek, printed by me on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institite of Technology. This is one of 33 copies on Rives BFK Cream paper, 15" x 22". It is accompanied by a translation printed in archival pigment inkjet on Rives Heavyweight paper, 10" x 13".

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Ὁ Τυραννικὸς Ἀνὴρ | The Tyrant -White

    A quote from Book 9 of Plato's Republic, in Greek, printed by me on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institite of Technology. This is one of 23 copies on Rives BFK White paper, 15" x 22". It is accompanied by a translation printed in archival pigment inkjet on Rives Heavyweight paper, 10" x 13".

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Art of American Book Covers hardcover

    The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930 by Richard Minsky, hardcover edition, Published by George Braziller, Inc., 2010, in a clear polyester dust jacket. Signed by the author (me!) and inscribed to you or the person of your choice.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Material Meets Metaphor

    Limited edition hardcover catalog of my 50-year retrospective exhibition at Yale in 2010.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    The Philosophy of Umbrellas

    The Philosophy of Umbrellas, an essay by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I designed as an umbrella in 2008 while von Hess Visiting Artist at the Borowsky Center for Publication Arts, University of the Arts, Philadelphia.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    M

    A 23" x 32" letterpress monotype I printed from a large wood-type M on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology while artist-in-residence in April, 2017. It can hand horizontally or vertically.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Custom binding on a book of your choice

    It can be a blank book of fine paper that I have in the studio, for use as a guest book, manuscript, or album, or a book that you provide either in sheets or to be rebound.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (12 days)