The Definitive Dwiggins no. 28 addendum—The Humanists’ Library

Front of circular for The Humanists' Library, first series (1907). Printed by The Merrymount Press. Image courtesy of Barry Snider.

Front of circular for The Humanists’ Library, first series (1907). Printed by The Merrymount Press. Image courtesy of Barry Snider.

Who designed the frames used on the front of the Humanists’ Library circulars? The first circular was issued in the spring of 1907. The frame is not signed. However, there is solid documentary evidence that, despite its precise, mechanical appearance it is the work of W.A. Dwiggins. His account book for January 4 of that year includes this entry: “Redrawing border Humanist circ.” Confirmation is found in the Merrymount Press Records for January 30: “Will Dwiggins Redrawing Architectural Border 5 00.” This entry refers to Merrymount Press job no. 4263, a circular for The Humanists’ Library. [1]

The second circular for The Humanists’ Library was issued in 1913 to accompany the second series of books. It is also unsigned. There is no entry in Dwiggins’ account books for a circular for The Humanists’ Library, though there is one for “Border for M.P. Circular” on January 24. I have not yet examined the Merrymount Press job books for 1913 to know if that refers to The Humanists’ Library or not. The architectural frame does not look like Dwiggins’ work, but then again neither does the 1907 one.

These circulars are further proof that identifying Dwiggins’ work by appearance alone is insufficient. He adjusted his style continuously to reflect the demands of both client and job. And he did not always sign his work.

[1] Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 81(1), Folder 2. The Huntington Library, Merrymount Press Records, Job Book no. 10 (3 December 1906–14 August 1907), p. 120.

Front of circular for The Humanists' Library, second series (1913).  Printed by The Merrymount Press. Image courtesy of Barry Snider.

Front of circular for The Humanists’ Library, second series (1913). Printed by The Merrymount Press. Image courtesy of Barry Snider.

I would like to thank Barry Snider for providing me with scans of his copies of both circulars.