The Definitive Dwiggins no. 43—Maynard and Microfilm

One problem in researching the career of W.A. Dwiggins is identifying and locating the advertising work he did from 1905 to the end of the 1920s when he shifted his focus to book design and type design. The space advertising work—as opposed to the direct advertising work—is especially difficult. [1] Much, if not all, of it was done for inclusion in the numerous Boston newspapers, either via advertising agencies such as the Cowen Company or directly for clients. [2] Copies of these newspapers are hard to find. At the time of publication they were viewed as ephemeral and routinely discarded by readers. Those that have been saved, whether by individuals or dealers, tend to be issues containing stories of retrospective historical importance such as the sinking of the Titanic, the end of Prohibition, the bombing of Pearl Harbor; cultural events such as the first Beatles tour of the United States; or sporting significance such as Babe Ruth’s final home run or Jesse Owens’ Olympic gold medals. Newspapers with quotidian news—which are of interest to cultural historians for their advertising—are of little interest to dealers and antiquarians.

The problem with those newspapers that have been saved is their fragility. Due to the severe acidification of newsprint they have been yellowing, browning, and even crumbling to dust. In response to that problem libraries microfilmed their newspaper holdings. But in doing so, they systematically destroyed or discarded the originals. [3] While the microfilm may be acceptable for general historians, genealogists and others interested in what happened in the past, it is less so for design historians who want to know what things looked like. Microfilm is not only black and white, but it is often underexposed or overexposed. It is marred by scratches, blurriness, inappropriate cropping, and shadows at the edges that blot out material. Furthermore, the image resolution is of low quality so that enlargements are often of little value. The recent digitization of newspapers by Newspapers.com, Google and other entities has not improved the situation since the source material remains the problem.

Nearly a decade ago I spent a year at the New York Public Library manually scrolling (either cranking a handle or pushing a button) through endless reels of microfilm of the Boston Herald and Boston Evening Transcript from 1910 to 1922 in order to identify the hundreds of uncredited and unsigned advertisements that Dwiggins worked on for the Cowen Company, Paine Furniture, Richardson Furniture, Chase & Sanborn, Alghieri Soup, Purity Cross, Bigelow Kennard, Maynard, Smith Patterson, Pettingell-Andrews, and others. I repeated the process at the Boston Public Library for the Boston Traveler & Evening Herald and the Boston Globe. And in the past two years I have done additional research using online newspaper archives for the Boston Evening Transcript and the Boston Globe. [4] The result is that I have succeeded in locating and identifying hundreds of examples of Dwiggins’ advertising work—though certainly not all.

"Rarer Designs in Silver and Jewelry." Newspaper advertisement for Maynard Co. Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

“Rarer Designs in Silver and Jewelry.” Newspaper advertisement for Maynard Co., 1912. Design by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtsey of Charles Nix.

"Singular Services of Singular Charm." Newspaper advertisement for Maynard Co. Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

“Silver services of singular charm.” Newspaper advertisement for Maynard Co., 1912. Design by W.A. Dwiggins. Image courtesy of Charles Nix.

All of this is by way of introduction to a survey of the work that Dwiggins executed for Maynard & Co., Boston jewelers and silversmiths. [5] His account books list seventeen designs done for Maynard via the Cowen Company between October 21, 1912 and February 27, 1913 and his invoices another one. I have images for ten of them from microfilm (complete with low resolution, splotches, and shadows) and images for two of those ten from an unidentified print source of higher quality (see above).

Here are the advertisements in the order that Dwiggins designed them and the dates I have been able to determine that they ran in local Boston newspapers.

1. October 8, 1912—faun and dancing nymph
2. October 21, 1912—faun and dancing nymph
3. October 21, 1912—”Rarer things”*; “Rarer Designs in Silver and Jewelry” appeared in the Boston Herald October 30, 1912 and in the Boston Evening Transcript November 1, 1912.
4. October 21, 1912—”flat silver”; “Flat Silver of Unique Interest” appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript November 12, 1912 and in the Boston Herald November 13, 1912. It also appeared with different proportions but the same illustration and lettering in the Boston Evening Transcript November 15, 1912 and the Boston Herald November 16, 1912.
5. October 21, 1912—”We believe our shop”; “We believe our shop…” appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript November 5, 1912 and in the Boston Herald November 6, 1912. It was repeated in the Boston Herald November 13, 1912 and December 10, 1912.
6. October 21, 1912—”Exquisite little gifts”; “Exquisite little gifts in gold and silver” appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript October 29, 1912 and again December 6, 1912.
7. November 2, 1912—Thanksgiving with putti and pumpkins; appeared in the Boston Herald November 20, 1912.
8. November 11, 1912—”Christmas Gifts of Rare Charm”; ”Christmas gifts, in gold and silver, for lovers of the beautiful” appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript December 10, 1912 and in the Boston Herald December 11, 1912. A variant appeared in the Boston Herald on December 18, 1912, January 7, 1913 and April 4, 1913.
9. Invoice November 15, 1912—Christmas fauns before a shrine; ; “Little gifts you will like to give.” appeared in the Boston Herald November 27 , 1912 and in the Boston Evening Transcript November 29, 1912. [6]
10. November 20, 1912—”Pearl Necklaces”; “Pearl Necklaces of exquisite color, lustre, beauty” appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript December 3, 1912 and in the Boston Herald December 4, 1912.
11. November 27, 1912—”Silver Services”; ”Silver services of singular charm” appeared in both the Boston Herald and the Boston Traveler & Evening Herald January 4, 1913.
12. December 11, 1912—Santa Claus
13. December 14, 1912—dancing putti and faun; appeared in the Boston Herald December 19, 1912 and in the Boston Evening Transcript December 20, 1912.
14. January 3, 1913—pendants and brooches; this is probably the advertisement that appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript January 6, 1913 and in the Boston Traveler & Evening Herald January 7, 1913 as “Special Reductions in Objets d’Art”.
15. January 8, 1913—”Wedding Gifts”; ”Wedding Gifts” appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript January 11, 1913 and in the Boston Traveler & Evening Herald January 16, 1913.
16. January 16, 1913—”Table Silver & Flatware”; “Our New Silver Room Is Now Open” appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript March 25, 1913.
17. February 7, 1913—”For the Bride & Her Attendants”
18. February 27, 1913—”Wedding Gifts in Silver” [6]

For all of the jobs which included both illustration and lettering Dwiggins was paid $25. For those where type was used (e.g. December 11, 1912 and December 14, 1912) he was paid less, either $5 or $10.

"Rarer advertisement for Maynard in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 30, 1912.

“Rarer Designs in Silver and Jewelery” advertisement for Maynard in the Boston Herald, October 30, 1912. Illustration and design by W.A. Dwiggins. Note that this advertisement is not identical to the one shown above.

What is unusual about the Maynard & Co. advertisements is that none of them show jewelry or silverware. Instead, there is an attempt to impart an air of quality to the company through the use of hand lettering and images of classical figures (statuary, putti, fauns, and nymphs). The advertisements are small (three columns wide) but their simplicity and abundant white space makes them jump out on the page, especially in an era when newspapers were still marked by pages of crowded, small type. [7] Furthermore, the advertisements were a significant improvement over those that Maynard & Co. had previously been running as can be seen by comparing them to this one, set in Cheltenham Italic, from October 9, 1912.

Maynard & Co. advertisement in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 9, 1912.

Maynard & Co. advertisement in the Boston Herald, October 9, 1912.

Despite the notable visual improvement in the Maynard & Co. advertisements designed by Dwiggins and Cowen Company, they lasted only a brief time. Why? Did they fail to increase business? Were the later advertisements still handled by Cowen? Unfortunately, I do not know the answers to these questions. There is no commentary about the advertisements in the contemporary trade press.

"Flat silver of unique interest" advertisement for Maynard & Co., November 12, 1912. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

“Flat silver of unique interest.” advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, November 12, 1912. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

"Pearl Necklaces of exquisite color, lustre, beauty." advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, December 3, 1912. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

“Pearl Necklaces of exquisite color, lustre, beauty.” advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, December 3, 1912. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

"Exquisite little gifts in gold and silver" advertisement for Maynard & Co., December 6, 1912.

“Exquisite little gifts in gold and silver.” advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, December 6, 1912. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

"Christmas gifts…" advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, December 10, 1912. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

“Christmas gifts…” advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, December 10, 1912. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins. The illustration was reused in altered form for later advertisements.

"Wedding Gifts" advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, January 14, 1913. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

“Wedding Gifts” advertisement for Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, January 14, 1913. Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

Below is the last advertisement that I have identified as possibly being the work of Dwiggins. The illustration is no longer classical but literal. Type has replace hand lettering. The copy has become longer and specific items and prices are once again included. The layout and white space are still a great improvement over the advertisement from October 9, 1912, but the elegance of the advertisements carried out by Dwiggins is gone.

"Our New Silver Room Is Now Open" advertisement by Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, March 25, 1913. Illustration by W.A. Dwiggins?

“Our New Silver Room Is Now Open” advertisement by Maynard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, March 25, 1913. Illustration by W.A. Dwiggins?

NOTES
*Dwiggins’ account book entries often have different wording from that of the actual job, either due to a change of text during the progress of the assignment or simply carelessness on his part.
[1] Space advertising refers to advertising in newspapers, magazines and other periodicals as well as on hoardings, billboards and car cards. Direct advertising, a term that sprang up in the first decade of the 20th century, refers to printed items—booklets, brochures, catalogues, circulars, mailers, and even stationery—distributed directly to potential customers, either through the mails or by hand. It is the subject of Layout in Advertising by Dwiggins (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1928).
[2] The major Boston newspapers in the decade between 1910 and 1920 were the Boston American, the Boston Evening Transcript, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Boston Post, and the Boston Traveler. There was consolidation among them during these years with the Herald purchasing the Traveler in 1912 and creating the Boston Traveler and Evening Herald.
[3] See Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper by Nicholson Baker (New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 2001) and the reaction to it.
[4] Online newspaper holdings are inconsistent. For the decade 1910 to 1920 Google Newspapers only covers a few years of the Boston Evening Transcript, while Newspapers.com only has a few years for the Boston Post. The Boston Globe is available for a fee. Digitization has not made looking for advertisements by Dwiggins clients easier, as search functions have proven to be unreliable. I found that the best (but most mind numbing) means of locating Dwiggins advertisements was to simply scroll through every page of every issue of each available newspaper. In essence, to do what I had done previously with microfilm.
[5] Maynard & Co. was originally Maynard & Potter, but by the time that Dwiggins worked for them it was solely owned by Abbot T. Maynard. They were located on Boylston Street, one of Boston’s premier shopping thoroughfares.
[6] The entries are in the account books and invoice carbons at the Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 81(1), Folders 5 and 6.
[7] For contrast to the simplicity of the Dwiggins advertisements for Maynard & Co. see the hand-lettered October 12, 1912 advertisement below for the rival jeweler Bigelow, Kennard & Co.

Advertisement for Bigelow, Kennard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 12, 1912. Designer unknown.

Advertisement for Bigelow, Kennard & Co. in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 12, 1912. Designer unknown.