A121. Time I$
A121. Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and Peter Thomas. Time I$. Santa Cruz, California: Peter & Donna Thomas, 2003.
63.5 x 51 mm (2 ½” x 2”), 10 pages, 100 copies.
Binding: Flap book; case-bound in printed white paper over boards. Pages attached to five rotating wood dowels. Dowels inserted into holes drilled in a framework made of gold painted wood, attached to back inside cover. Inside cover paper same as cover paper. Paper: White, handmade by Peter Thomas. Printing: Letterpress. Typography: Hand set Broadway and Lydian. Notes: Cover and inside cover paper printed with the phrase “time is time” and linocut illustrations of clocks. Quotes by Ben Franklin and Mark Twain are printed on the flaps. A one dollar bill, printed with Peter Thomas’s text “Money is Money,” is slipped into a recess behind the wooden framework.
“This was our third flap book. The initial idea for the book came when I was doing research for Four Views of Kealakekua Bay [A90] and read Twain’s quote ‘Geographical time is not money.’ It referred to Franklin’s aphorism and I started to plan printing them together in a book. Donna and I had recently been having discussions about how the book could be thought of as a container, where the opening and closing hides and reveals the contents. We decided the text would work using the flap structure as the two could be juxtaposed by placing them on the front and back of the flap. We altered the earlier structures, attaching the flapping book block directly to the inside of the back cover so the text printed on the back of the flaps could not be seen until the flap was turned. We put Franklin’s quote on front with Twain’s rejoinder on the back. Working to achieve a perfect level of complexity in the work we painted the flap structure gold and printed the words ‘time is time’ on the paper used for the cover and endpages of the book, adding images of clocks added to enhance the theme. By mounting the flap structure directly to the back cover we created an empty space behind the text, into which we slid a one dollar bill that was revealed as the flaps were turned horizontal. The original concept was to use the 100 dollar bill with Franklin’s portrait, but because of the overhead that would require we used one dollar bills instead. The one dollar bills were ordered direct from the US Treasury and were sequentially numbered, thus we could make the last few numbers on the bill match the book's edition number. The dollar bills could be removed from behind the flap structure, so we printed them with a rejoinder of our own: ‘Money is money.’ Thus the covers and the printing on the dollar bill created our own aphorism: ‘Time is time and money is money.’ As a final touch we titled the book ‘Time I$’ with the $ sign representing both the letter ‘s’ in and the word money.
There were also two special copies, bound in leather, with clock parts embedded on the front and back covers, and with one hundred dollar bills behind the text. The big challenge in making those copies was finding $100 bills with serial numbers ending in 101 and 102, and before we found one a financial broker purchased book number 101. A banker friend assisted us in finding the bill, but even with that connection it took more than a month. The broker put his book on display in the lobby of his office, and one day found the bill missing. He asked if we could replace it with another $100 bill. Realizing it could take forever to find another bill with that serial number we told him that since we were the artists whatever we did would be artistically correct, and so we took a random $100 bill, crossed out the old serial number, wrote in 101, and replaced it in his book, leaving him happy and saving ourselves another month of grubbing thru one hundred dollar bills looking at serial numbers.”