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A hand-bound limited letterpress edition of J.J. Lankes’s nearly-lost short story “The Rich Mouse,” with his woodcut illustrations.
A hand-bound limited letterpress edition of J.J. Lankes’s nearly-lost short story “The Rich Mouse,” with his woodcut illustrations.
60 backers pledged $10,611 to help bring this project to life.

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“The Rich Mouse” by J.J. Lankes: A Limited First Printing project video thumbnail
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Julius John Lankes (1884–1960) was an American woodcut artist famous for his illustrations for books by Robert Frost, Sherwood Anderson, and other important twentieth-century writers. The discovery in 2006 of the manuscript of an original unpublished Lankes story—together with the woodcuts he made to accompany it—triggered our hope to bring into print his fully realized book, letterpress printed on his own Hoe Washington press. We are seeking support to underwrite the direct costs of creating a special limited edition handset in a recasting of a rare American metal type—the Village type that Frederic W. Goudy designed for his own private press, the Village Press.

It turns out that this year marks the 150th Anniversary of Goudy's birth, so in celebration of that—and of Lankes's 131st anniversary—we plan to issue The Rich Mouse in an edition limited to 150 copies, printed on fine mouldmade or handmade paper, and hand-bound in hardcover. The letterpress first printing will be accompanied by The Rich Mouse Compendium, a limited-edition paperback companion volume. Set in a newly created digital version of Goudy’s Village font, in a paperback binding matching the letterpress hand-bound edition, it will include a facsimile of the letterpress edition of The Rich Mouse text and woodcuts, together with an introduction, notes on the manuscript, facsimile manuscript pages, original photographs and background materials on J. J. Lankes as artist and printer, photographs and background materials on Frederic Goudy and his design of the Village type, and other previously unpublished source material. In our completed project, these two volumes will be housed together in a handmade slipcase.

 J. J. Lankes was a woodcut artist, author, and college professor from Buffalo, New York, who is credited with helping to elevate the woodblock print from the status of craft to fine art. Among his close to 1400 graphic works are two charming and virtually unknown illustrations he designed and cut for The Rich Mouse, his allegorical fable emphasizing the snares of materialism versus the redeeming strength of love and forgiveness, written in 1950, but set aside and never published.

In 2006 the manuscript was discovered by Welford D. Taylor, Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Richmond and curator of the University Museums’ recent exhibition, “Julius J. Lankes: Survey of an American Artist.” Dr. Taylor edited the Rich Mouse manuscript, wrote an introduction outlining its history and meaning, and proposed its publication to Richard Mathews, Director of the Tampa Book Arts Studio and Dana Professor of English at the University of Tampa. The Studio is home to the c. 1845 Hoe Washington hand press, No. 3126, on which Lankes proofed and printed his blocks for Robert Frost and others. After his death his son gave the press to the University of Richmond, which has placed it on extended loan to the Tampa Book Arts Studio.

A third collaborator, Bob Oldham, a typographer, press historian, author of works including The Columbian Handpress At 200: An Historical Summary and World-wide Census, and proprietor of Ad Lib Press. Oldham actually moved the Lankes Washington press from Virginia to Tampa—and it is his inspiration that the text of The Rich Mouse be set in a special casting of Goudy’s original “Village” private press type that he commissioned from the Dale Guild in 2007.

J. J. Lankes' 1845 Hoe Washington Handpress
J. J. Lankes' 1845 Hoe Washington Handpress

Now the press on which Lankes printed his blocks for Robert Frost, Sherwood Anderson, Beatrix Potter, and others will be used to bring this previously unpublished work by Lankes himself into print, in a posthumous collaboration with master printer and type designer Frederic Goudy.

We cordially invite your support.  By special permission of the Lankes Estate, we are delighted to offer a limited number of distinctive premiums at every level. These are available only through this campaign, and the special prints and broadsides will not be reprinted and will not be available elsewhere. They are pictured below only in preliminary design sketches; if this project is funded, the final project may differ from these renderings.

 • A limited edition letterpress broadside in celebration of Frederic W. Goudy’s 150th anniversary—handset in Goudy’s original Village types from a special Dale Guild casting that will be used for the letterpress edition of The Rich Mouse.

• A copy of The Rich Mouse Compendium, a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of The Rich Mouse text and blocks from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials.

• A limited edition letterpress broadside in celebration of Frederic W. Goudy’s 150th anniversary—handset in Goudy’s original Village types from the special Dale Guild casting that will be used for the letterpress edition of The Rich Mouse.

• A copy of The Rich Mouse Compendium, a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of The Rich Mouse text and blocks from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials.

• A limited-edition J.J. Lankes portrait of Robert Frost, printed on the Washington hand press on which Lankes proofed and printed his original illustrations for editions of Robert Frost's books of poetry (and the press to be used for the letterpress edition of The Rich Mouse).

• A limited-edition letterpress broadside in celebration of Frederic W. Goudy’s 150th anniversary—handset in Goudy’s original Village types from the special Dale Guild casting that will be used for the letterpress edition of The Rich Mouse.

 • A copy of The Rich Mouse Compendium, a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of The Rich Mouse text and blocks from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials.—signed by Introduction author Welford Taylor, and printers Bob Oldham and Richard Mathews. 

• Limited edition letterpress print of the “Checkers” woodblock illustration by J. J. Lankes from The Rich Mouse, suitable for framing. This will be printed in a limited edition on the Washington hand press on which Lankes proofed and printed his original Robert Frost illustrations and the press to be used for the letterpress edition of The Rich Mouse. This premium is available by generous permission of the Lankes Estate.

• A complete set of unbound sheets of the letterpress limited-edition of The Rich Mouse on 100% cotton mouldmade paper, ready for your special binding.  (Unbound signatures of this book are available only through this Kickstarter offer.)

The Rich Mouse limited first-edition — two volumes slipcased together — the hand-bound letterpress hardcover & the limited-edition The Rich Mouse Compendium.

This limited-edition paperback companion volume will include a complete facsimile of The Rich Mouse letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, facsimile manuscripts, and other supplementary materials. It will be signed for this premium by the authors and printers.

• Limited edition letterpress print of the “Checkers” woodblock illustration by J. J. Lankes from The Rich Mouse, suitable for framing. This will be printed in a limited edition on the Washington hand press on which Lankes proofed and printed his original Robert Frost illustrations and the press to be used for the letterpress edition of The Rich Mouse. This premium is available by generous permission of the Lankes Estate.

The Tampa Book Arts Studio has strong ties with woodcut artist J. J. Lankes. After his 1845 Hoe Washington hand press was moved to the Studio in 2002, a number of projects that strengthened the ties between the artist and the Studio followed:

Lankes Miniature Book

The Tampa Book Arts Studio has previously completed similar projects to The Rich Mouse, including one also printed on the Lankes hand press. In 2009, the Tampa Book Arts Studio compiled and printed a miniature book of Lankes’ woodcut miniatures. The book reproduced twelve remarkable miniature woodcuts by Lankes, and when published included an introduction by Welford D. Taylor and notes by independent Lankes scholar and author of Lankes’ catalog raisonne, Parker C. Agelasto.

Lankes’s Woodcut Manual

In 2006 the University of Tampa Press republished Lankes’s 1932 Woodcut Manual, a guide for those taking up the craft. The book was introduced by Welford D. Taylor, and included many additional notes and previously unpublished letters.

TBAS Special Collections Library

The Tampa Book Arts Studio Special Collections, located at the University of Tampa, is home to a substantial collection of woodcut prints, including a number of large prints by J. J. Lankes, many of them presented to the Collection by Lankes’s son J. B. Lankes.

The Rich Mouse being set in American type designer Frederic W. Goudy's original "Village" type is only the latest project that will bring the Studio together with Goudy. At its founding, the core of the Studio’s type collection was largely Goudy-designed faces, most of it cast on its Monotype sorts caster. Our collection of matrices of Goudy faces includes a full range of Kennerley, Garamont, and, most recently, Companion Old Style. In fact, it was just earlier this year that the Studio acquired the matrices to cast "Companion"—a proprietary face privately commissioned for the Woman’s Home Companion in the 1920s. Today the Studio holds the only surviving matrices for casting it . . .

Mats for the original Village type are equally rare, and the type for our edition was made from a commissioned casting by the Dale Guild. The type was used by Fred and Bertha Goudy for the first books issued from their Village Press.

An example of Goudy’s use of Village type in the third book issued from the Village Press in 1904
An example of Goudy’s use of Village type in the third book issued from the Village Press in 1904

The Studio is home to both a Monotype Composition Caster and a Monotype Sorts Caster. From these machines, using hot type metal, the Studio has been committed to programs and publications to preserve the finest American letterpress traditions.

Risks and challenges

We look forward to working through the multiple challenges of this complex project on the hand press. One of the tricky aspects will be discovering how to print both the blocks and the type with equal quality. If our campaign is successful and funding permits, we hope to experiment with trials on several different kinds of 100% cotton papers, both mouldmade and handmade. We have made some preliminary experiments toward printing woodgrain pattern papers for binding. Finding the right papers, scale, and colors will be a question of trial and error. We are still gathering potential holographic manuscript materials, photographs, and research discoveries that we expect to include in the paperback companion to the letterpress edition. Coordinating all of these factors and each of our own professional schedules to complete the work by the end of the year will require careful planning, but we will continue to work on these logistics as the Kickstarter Campaign proceeds. All of us are reserving blocks of time to gather in the Tampa Book Arts Studio to complete the printing.

For those of you who may be interested, here is our working budget, followed by a project timeline:

RICH MOUSE PROJECT BUDGET:

Paper and Blocks: $1100
Foundry type, spacing, and leading: $650
Travel and Housing: $3100
Edition Binding & slipcases: $3750
Compendium Production: $700
Incidental fees and contingencies: $200

Total: $9500*

*Any Kickstarter support funds in excess of our budget will be used to enhance the edition and to support non-profit work of the Tampa Book Arts Studio.

RICH MOUSE PROJECT TIMELINE:

August 12-October 10: Kickstarter Campaign active
October 10-24: Produce working book design, begin typesetting, and order supplies; Design and print broadside premiums
October 25-November 15: complete printing of premiums and print Rich Mouse Letterpress edition; Edit and design Rich Mouse Compendium.
November 15-December 31: Complete binding and slipcases for Limited Edition; print Rich Mouse Compendium; number and slipcase.
January 15: Begin mailing Rich Mouse premiums and limited edition orders.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Acknowledgement and Thanks

    Be acknowledged online for your support of the Rich Mouse project and receive a written card of thanks.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    • A limited-edition letterpress broadside in celebration of Frederic W. Goudy’s 150th anniversary—handset in Goudy’s original Village foundry type from the special Dale Guild casting that will be used for the letterpress edition of “The Rich Mouse.”

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    • A copy of “The Rich Mouse Compendium,” a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of “The Rich Mouse” text and woodcuts from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials.

    • A limited-edition letterpress broadside in celebration of Frederic W. Goudy’s 150th anniversary—handset in Goudy’s original Village foundry type from the special Dale Guild casting that will be used for the letterpress edition of “The Rich Mouse.”

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 9 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    • A copy of “The Rich Mouse Compendium,” a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of “The Rich Mouse” text and woodcuts from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials.

    • A limited edition J.J. Lankes portrait of Robert Frost, printed on the Washington hand press on which Lankes proofed and printed his original illustrations for Frost's books of poetry (and the press to be used for the letterpress edition of “The Rich Mouse”).

    • A limited-edition letterpress broadside in celebration of Frederic W. Goudy’s 150th anniversary—handset in Goudy’s original Village foundry type from the special Dale Guild casting that will be used for the letterpress edition of “The Rich Mouse.”

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 2 backers
    $
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    • A copy of “The Rich Mouse Compendium,” a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of “The Rich Mouse” text and woodcuts from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials—signed by Introduction author Welford Taylor, and printers Bob Oldham and Richard Mathews.

    • Limited-edition letterpress print of the “Checkers” woodblock illustration by J. J. Lankes from “The Rich Mouse,” printed on the Washington hand press on which Lankes proofed and printed his original Robert Frost illustrations and the press to be used for the letterpress edition of “The Rich Mouse.”

    • Unbound sheets of the letterpress edition of “The Rich Mouse.”

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    • The hardback letterpress limited-edition book of “The Rich Mouse,” hand bound by David Barry of the Griffin Bindery and presented in a matching handmade slipcase, together with the limited-edition companion volume.

    • A copy of “The Rich Mouse Compendium,” a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of “The Rich Mouse” text and woodcuts from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials. Signed by the authors and printers.

    • A limited-edition letterpress print, suitable for framing, of the “Checkers” woodcut by J. J. Lankes from “The Rich Mouse,” printed on the Washington hand press on which Lankes proofed and printed his original Robert Frost illustrations and the press to be used for the letterpress edition of “The Rich Mouse.”

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 39 backers
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    A Day on the Washington Hand Press

    Spend a day with the printers of The Rich Mouse at the Tampa Book Arts Studio as they makeready and print the Rich Mouse edition on Lankes’ own Washington Hand Press. (Travel and lodging not included.) Also includes the slipcased, 2-volume set of the hardback letterpress limited-edition book of “The Rich Mouse” and a copy of “The Rich Mouse Compendium,” a limited-edition paperback companion volume, with a complete facsimile of “The Rich Mouse” text and woodcuts from the letterpress edition, plus an introduction, notes, photographs, and unique supplementary materials. Signed by the authors and printers.

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Funding period

- (60 days)