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 The discovery in 2006 of the manuscript of an original unpublished Lankes story—together with the woodcuts he made to accompany it—triggered our hope to bring into print his fully realized book, letterpress printed on his own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' 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photographs and background materials on Frederic Goudy and his design of the Village type, and other previously unpublished source material.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.
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.
UPDATED 13 October 2015: Their goal on KickStarter was met! Congratulations.