TIME is to auction three first-ever NFTs (non-fungible tokens) inspired by one of TIME’s most iconic covers and including an original cover created especially for the auction.
These TIME NFTs are available individually or as a collection on the cryptocurrency marketplace SuperRare. The auction is open now and will run until Wednesday, March 24 at 8PM ET.
Inspired by the “Is God Dead?” cover from April 8, 1966, the original NFT rendition, released amid the stratospheric rise of NFTs and adoption of cryptocurrencies, returns to the stark black field and red bold typography to once again ask a topical question, “Is Fiat Dead?”
The “Is God Dead?” cover—the magazine’s first to include only text—was written by TIME religion editor John Elson. As Elson wrote, “it is a question that tantalizes both believers, who perhaps secretly fear that he is, and atheists, who possibly suspect the answer is no.” The cover inspired countless angry sermons, 3,421 letters from readers and a lively debate at a time when 97% of Americans told pollsters they believed in God.
More than a half century later, during the first year of President Donald Trump’s presidency, TIME’s April 3, 2017 cover asked “Is Truth Dead?” TIME editor Nancy Gibbs wrote: “just like many said they believed in God in 1966, many today would say they believe in Truth, and yet we find ourselves having an intense debate over its role and power in the face of a President who treats it like a toy. What does he actually believe? Does it count as lying if he believes what he says?”
The word “fiat” is not as commonly used word in American culture as God and Truth, but it certainly affects every global citizen. Fiat money is government-issued currency that is not backed by a physical commodity, such as gold or silver, but rather by the government that issued it. Crypto currencies, like Bitcoin and Dogecoin, are challenging that model.
“I love the idea that it’s meaning isn’t clear to the casual viewer – much like the crazy, lucrative world of NFTs,” says TIME Creative Director D.W. Pine, who created the new “Is Fiat Dead?” cover.
This is an exclusive series of three incredibly prescient TIME covers, including one of the most iconic covers in TIME’s 98-year history, and the first-ever cover designed exclusively as a NFT.
The typography used on the original cover was based on Bodoni Poster, designed by Chauncey H. Griffith in 1929. The bold contrasting strokes, strong verticality and easily recognizable serifs and ball terminals were perfectly suited for advertisements, posters and signs in the early 20th century. The typography on the two most recent covers needed to be hand drawn, as we could find no modern type foundry which has an exact interpretation of the one used on the original cover.