The Definitive Dwiggins no. 16—A snowy visit to Boston, part I: A tiny surprise

In early February I made a trip to Boston and the surrounding area to attend a Society of Printers dinner and research two aspects of Dwiggins’ career: his work for paper companies and his work for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I was fortunate to make my visit in a lull between the relentless series of snowstorms that pummeled Boston this past winter.

Despite the mounds of snow piled everywhere the highways were clear enough drive out to the suburbs to look at the famous Sid Berger & Michelle Cloonan Paper Collection. My appointment had been months in the making and I was very excited because Berger said he had more than 23,000 sheets of paper, over 2500 books and pamphlets about paper, and approximately 250 specimens from the Japan Paper Company alone. This promised to be a goldmine in my search for the many items that Dwiggins designed for paper companies between 1912 and 1937 that had been eluding me for the past decade. The only caveat that Sid had was that his collection was not catalogued. That didn’t worry me too much. I figured that Dwiggins had done so much work for paper companies that if I couldn’t find everything I was looking for on this visit, I would simply schedule additional visits in the future.

Cover of More Business through Booklets (S.D. Warren, 1922). Design and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

Cover of More Business through Booklets (S.D. Warren, 1922). Design and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

Although the visit was wonderful, with lots of amazing examples of paper, objects made from paper and items on the history and technique of paper making to see, the only Dwiggins pieces that we found were for S.D. Warren and all of which I had already seen elsewhere—with one semi-exception. Stapled inside the back cover of More Business through Booklets (no. 8 in the More Business series from 1922) was a tiny booklet (3.75 x 5 inches) titled “How Pictures and Words Help to Determine What Paper to Use in a Booklet.” There was nothing of interest within its 63 pages, but the colorful cover was intriguing.

The cover had Art Deco lettering and a collage illustration of type and images (including a flapper) that did not look like anything I knew of by Dwiggins, but I have learned in recent years not to jump to conclusions. Often his account books overturn my assumptions. And this was another such time since there is an entry for August 13-14, 1924 that reads “Warren cover How pictures & Words” that clearly refers to this booklet. Given the date, the booklet must have been a later addition to More Business through Booklets. That would explain why it is not present in any of the other copies that I have seen.

How Pictures and Words Help to Determine which Paper to Use (S.D. warren, 1924). Cover illustration by W.A. Dwiggins.

How Pictures and Words Help to Determine which Paper to Use in a Booklet (S.D. Warren, 1924). Cover illustration by W.A. Dwiggins. Booklet stapled inside back cover of More Business through Booklets.

Much to my disappointment I did not find anything by Dwiggins for the Japan Paper Company or for other paper mills among Sid’s ephemera. But at least I had stumbled on this tiny gem of a booklet whose cover expanded my knowledge of Dwiggins’ illustration and lettering repertoire.