Considered by many to be the "best book ever written about the art of woodcuts," A Woodcut Manual is a great place to look for a frank and to the point practical overview of "how-to" make woodcuts. Lankes's first woodcutting in 1917* launched him on a career of only modest commercial success, but eminently influential in the art of subsequent woodcut printmaking. His most famous collaborations were with Charles Burchfield and Robert Frost. However, his life and career were difficult, as seen in the additional letters and correspondence included with this new edition of this long out of print book. His early years in Buffalo, NY gave him a cynical view of the the art world that he carried through his life- not of the art, but rather the low regard given to artists in terms of compensation for their work. This theme carries through the letters reproduced in the book. However, the highly readable main book relays his joy of working in the medium and is peppered with offhanded remarks of his own personal experience in learning the craft. This new edition from the University of Tampa press gives a great biographical insight into Lankes and his work while reproducing one of the most desirable books for students of woodcut printmaking.
*The story told by J.J. Lankes is that in 1917, while working at the Newton Arms company of Buffalo, NY, he borrowed an engraving tool to attempt his first woodcut. Coincidentally, my grandfather (Peter Kegler) was in charge of the tool & die department of Newton Arms in 1917. It is with this circumstantial evidence that I credit the Kegler family name with reviving the art of the woodcut in North America. Lankes is probably due some credit as well.