Sign for Savoy Taylors Guild Ltd., The Strand, London (c.1906).

Sgraffito on a wall in the Giudecca section of Venice.

Detail of a neon sign for a barbershop in Grottaferrata, Italy.

Detail of page from Les Ecritures Financiere, et Italienne-Bastarde (1647) by Louis Barbedor, a French writing master.

Detail of store sign for Cortese Frizzoti in Venice. The letters in black have been painted over a gold ground which covers a former store name in mosaic tile.

Medieval inscription in Round Gothic capitals. In the cloister of S. Giovanni in Laterano in Rome.

Capital E and G stencils from collection of Eric Kindel, Reading, England.

Ghost signs with printer’s fist on wall of Rue de la Commune in Montreal.

Detail of painted directional sign for Coney Island covering mosaic sign indicating Up Town Trains. 53rd Street station of the R line in Brooklyn.

Punches for punctuation cut by Giambattista Bodoni at the Museo Bodoniano in Parma, Italy.

Detail of cover of Warren’s Standard Printing Papers specimen book by S.D. Warren (1929). Design, ornament and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

Blue Pencil

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 17—The Mystery of Dwiggins and Grassby

Moving announcement from The Occasional Bulletin of the White Elephant (1915). Map designed by W.A. Dwiggins.
The week before Thanksgiving in 1914 W.A. Dwiggins moved into a new studio—with “Chinese tea-paper walls—at 26 Lime Street in Boston. Dwiggins announced his move in January 1915 via the publication of the first (and only) issue of The Occasional Bulletin of the White Elephant which contained a map showing both his old address at 69 Cornhill and the new one at 26 Lime Street. …
Continue reading

Blue Pencil

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 19—Untrustworthy sources

In researching W.A. Dwiggins for over thirty years I have come across many untrustworthy sources, including Dorothy Abbe, the executor of his estate, and even Dwiggins himself. I was reminded of this yesterday when, at the Thomas J. Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I came across the New York Times obituary for Dwiggins. Although it was not new to me, I had not read it in several decades and thus had forgotten how many mistakes it contained.
The …
Continue reading

Blue Pencil

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 18—L’Afficheur

“L’Afficheur” by Edmé Bouchardon
W.A. Dwiggins was not always an original illustrator or ornamentalist. He copied the work of Pillement, Flaxman, Choffard, Callot and Bouchardon among others. Not only did his clients—most notably Daniel Berkeley Updike—ask him to copy the work of these artists and illustrators of the past, but sometimes he did so on his own initiative. One such instance is a paper sample insert designed for International Covers*, a Chemical Paper Company brand.
The insert, titled “Old Fashioned Advertising & …
Continue reading