Bound by: Richard Mnsky

It Can't Happen Here

New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co. 1935. First Edition. Fine art binding. Fine.


The third in a series of unique bindings of the same title by book artist Richard Minsky. Lewis' novel It Can't Happen Here is about a newly elected populist president of the United States, who won by playing on the fears of the electorate and promising a return to prosperity and "traditional" values. He quickly takes over all branches of the government and establishes totalitarian rule with the help of a paramilitary force. The similarity to Adolf Hitler and the SS, on the rise at the time in Europe, is not accidental. The protagonist in the novel is a journalist opposed to the new reign of terror. His efforts to undermine it include secretly printing on a hand press and surreptitiously circulating a 4 page pamphlet titled Vermont Vigilance. Secret, pseudonymous pamphleteering, publicizing and protesting the crimes of the government, is evocative of the period of the American Revolution before the establishment of the United States and The Bill of Rights, including the freedom of the press. Vermont Vigilance, the fictional publication from Sinclair Lewis' novel, was reified and printed by Richard Minsky on the Kelmscott-Goudy Albion handpress at Rochester Institute of Technology's Cary Collection in April, 2017 from a photopolymer plate (the first use of photopolymer on that press), with type composed digitally using InDesign, in typefaces that were in use at the time the story takes place (1930s): 8 pt Times New Roman with Goudy Sans headlines and Old English masthead. Richard Minsky (b. 1947) founded the Center for Book Arts (NY) in 1974, upon which many other centers for book arts around the world are based. In 1978-1979, Minsky lived in London teaching, studying, and making art as the National Endowment for the Arts and British Council's US/UK Bicentennial Fellow, culminating with his participation in the exhibition The Open and Closed Book (1979) at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Adding to many honors during a long career, Richard Minsky received the 2017 Guild of Book Workers Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Printing History Association 2018 Laureate Award. The Richard Minsky Archive is at the Yale University Arts Library, which mounted a 50-year retrospective in 2010. Split board binding; original 1935 Smythe sewing. Alum tawed goatskin, 22K gold stamped spine, inset front board panel includes pied (scattered) 8-point type, the artist's blood, and acrylic paint over a copy of Vermont Vigilance printed by the artist. Canson Mi-teintes sepia endpapers. Another copy of Vermont Vigilance, printed on newsprint, one of the very few Minsky printed on such paper, intentionally under-inked and not signed or numbered, is laid in at the front endpaper (in the novel one way of distributing the pamphlet is by inserting it into other publications). Housed in a custom dropback box by the artist, covered in red book cloth, 22K gold stamped black leather spine label. Bound by Richard Minsky in 2018. 14.6cm x 20.7cm x 4.8cm.

Price: $20,000