The Definitive Dwiggins no. 48—Eugene Field

Eugene Field. From Field Flowers (1896).

Eugene Field. From Field Flowers: A Small Bunch of the Most Fragrant of Blossoms Gathered from the Broad Acres of Eugene Field’s Farm of Love (Chicago: The Monument Committee, 1896).

Eugene Field (1850–1895) was one of the leading literary figures of the late 19th century in America. He was known for his bibliophilic writings as well as for his verse for children. From 1881 until his death he was a columnist for the Chicago Daily News which morphed into the Chicago Morning News and then into the Chicago Record. His two most famous columns were “Sharps and Flats” and “Saints’ and Sinners’ Corner”. The latter focused on bibliomania, telling tales of the bibliophiles who gathered at A.C. McClurg & Co., the famous Chicago bookstore,  book distributor and publisher. [1] The column’s name was taken from the nickname of the store’s rare book section established by George Millard. This is where Frederic W. Goudy claims to have met Field.

Although W.A. Dwiggins never met Field—the author died before Dwiggins moved to Chicago—he was heavily influenced by him. [2] Between 1900 and 1905 he made three illustrations of Field, all undated. The first (shown below) does not look like photographs of Field, making one wonder what Dwiggins’ source was. Perhaps a youthful illustration of Fields when he still had hair. The portrait is a woodcut and, based on the D. signature, is likely to have been carved during the years 1899 to 1903 when Dwiggins was in Chicago.

Woodcut portrait of Eugene Field by W.A. Dwiggins.

Woodcut portrait of Eugene Field by W.A. Dwiggins. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 35, Folder, 29.

The second—in my guess at their chronology—of Dwiggins’ Field portraits is very similar to the many photographs of the author available online. But it may have been based instead on a portrait of Field by J.M. Gaspard, one of Dwiggins’ teachers at The Frank Holme School of Illustration, that appeared in the December 1900 issue of The Inland Printer. [3] Both Gaspard’s and Dwiggins’ portraits show Field turned slightly to the left, with an upturned shirt collar and tie visible. Dwiggins’ illustration is signed with a stacked WAD in the manner of a Chinese chop. It is a signature that he used several times in the first few years after he arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts. [4]

The Inland Printer 1900. Note the portrait of Eugene Field by J.M. Gaspard at right.

The Inland Printer December 1900, p. 495. Note the portrait of Eugene Field by J.M. Gaspard at middle right.

Portait of Eugene Field by W.A. Dwiggins.

Pen-and-ink portait of Eugene Field (cropped) by W.A. Dwiggins.Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 11, Folder 36.

The third Dwiggins portrait of Field is a variant of the second. In fact it may be the same image redrawn and flopped through the process of being cut into wood. The showing of it here comes from a c.1905 brochure advertising several woodcut prints that Dwiggins as offering for sale. As a result the signature is blurry and cannot be properly deciphered. The other prints are “Wind: Winter,” a four-color woodcut of a lone tree on a hill, and “The Sea-Fight,” a hand-colored woodcut. All of the prints were offered by sale by Alfred Bartlett in a c.1906 list, alongside several motto cards that Dwiggins lettered for the publisher. [5]

A wood-cut Portrait of Eugene Field by W.A. Dwiggins (c.1905).

A Wood-Cut Portrait of Eugene Field by W.A. Dwiggins. Excerpted from a c.1905 brochure by Will Dwiggins.

Page from Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Calligraphy and design by W.A. Dwiggins. Printed at the Guernsey Shop, December 1903. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Page from Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Calligraphy and design by W.A. Dwiggins. Printed at the Guernsey Shop, December 1903. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Colophon for Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Printed by the Guernsey Shop, December 1903. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Colophon for Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Printed by the Guernsey Shop, December 1903. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Like many of his generation, Dwiggins was a fan of Field’s verse, especially “Chrystmasse of Olde” (from A Little Book of Western Verse [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895]). He printed two limited editions of the poem, both for Eva S. Dwiggins, his mother. [6] The first edition of 75 copies was printed at the Guernsey Shop in December 1903 but no copies were for sale. The text was printed from process blocks of Dwiggins’ rotunda calligraphy. Decorative initials were printed in red. The format was oblong.

The second edition, printed in December 1904, consisted of only two copies. It was set in Frederic Goudy’s Village type and printed at the relocated Village Press in Hingham, Massachusetts. Initials and decorations in red were added by hand by Dwiggins. One copy has a half title printed in red Village type that reads: ”A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM WILL & MABEL DWIGGINS DECEMBER TWENTY-FIFTH NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FOUR.”

Title page of Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Typography and decoration by W.A. Dwiggins. Printed at the Village Press, December 1904. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Title page of Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Typography and decoration by W.A. Dwiggins. Printed at the Village Press, December 1904. The “kids” were Dwiggins and his wife Mabel. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Page from Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Typography and decoration by W.A. Dwiggins. Printed at the Village Press, December 1904. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Page from Chrystmasse of Olde by Eugene Field. Typography and decoration by W.A. Dwiggins. Printed at the Village Press, December 1904. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 20.

Sometime between 1900 and 1906 Dwiggins drew a map of The Land of Nod, a fantasy place. [7] Among the many locations derived from Greek and Roman myths, folk tales, Mother Goose rhymes and the Thousand and One Nights, are some from Eugene Field poems. The “Index to Important Places” includes Little-Boy Blue’s House (R), Wynkyn’s House (M), Blynkyn’s House (N) and The Sugar Plum Tree (E). And the title of the map itself comes from Field’s Dutch lullaby “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” (1889).

Map of the Land of Nod by W.A. Dwiggins (n.d.). Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 41, Folder 33.

“Map of the Land of Nod Surveyed and Accurately set down by Wilm [William] Ad [Addison] Dwiggins” (n.d.). Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 41, Folder 33.

“The Dutch Lullaby” is the first lullaby in Cradle Lullabies by Eugene Field (Chicago: The Canterbury Co., 1909), edited with an introduction by Edwin Osgood Grover. It and seven other lullabies were written out in a version of Edward Johnston’s Foundational Hand. The calligraphy is uncredited but it could be by Dwiggins or by his former classmate Oswald Cooper both of whom did work for Grover’s Canterbury Company at this time. [8]

"Dutch Lullaby" from Cradle Lullabies by Eugene Field (Chicago: The Canterbury Co., 1909). Calligraphy possibly by W.A. Dwiggins.

“Dutch Lullaby” from Cradle Lullabies by Eugene Field (Chicago: The Canterbury Co., 1909). Calligraphy possibly by W.A. Dwiggins.

Dwiggins’ final encounters with Eugene Field occurred in the early 1920s. Two of the jobs he did for the St. Louis bibliophile William K. Bixby, via Daniel Berkeley Updike and The Merrymount Press, involved Field manuscripts. For Dibdin’s Ghost & Boccaccio (1922) he lettered the title page and provided initials. For Two Poems by Eugene Field (1922) he created a WKB monogram for Bixby to go on the cover and a variant for the title page.

Title page for Dibdin's Ghost & Boccaccio by Eugene Field (Boston: The Merrymount Press, 1922). Initials by W.A. Dwiggins.

Title page for Dibdin’s Ghost & Boccaccio by Eugene Field (Boston: The Merrymount Press, 1922). Initials by W.A. Dwiggins. From the Merrymount Press collection of Martin Hutner.

Title page of Two Poems by Eugene Field (Boston: The Merrymount Press, 1922). Monogram by W.A. Dwiggins.

Title page of Two Poems by Eugene Field (Boston: The Merrymount Press, 1922). Monogram by W.A. Dwiggins. From the Merrymount Press collection of Martin Hutner.

NOTES
[1] The basics of Field’s life are taken from Life of Eugene Field: The Poet of Childhood by Slason Thompson (New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1927).
[2] Curiously, just before he died Field bought a house at 2339 Clarendon Avenue in the Buena Park neighborhood of Chicago. Years later, Goudy and Dwiggins shared a house at 2304 Clarendon Avenue.
[3] Gaspard’s drawing of Field is part of a collage of work by the faculty of The Frank Holme School of Illustration in The Inland Printer vol. XXVI, no. 3 (December 1900), p. 495.
[4] The most prominent example of the vertically stacked WAD signature is on his St. Luke greeting card c.1905/1906. Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 45, Folder 19 and 2001 Dwiggins Collection, Box 5, Folder 3. There are also copies at the Newberry Library, Yale University, and Dartmouth College.
[5] The Dwiggins brochure is in the Ray Nash Collection, Rauner Library, Dartmouth College. The Alfred Bartlett list is in the W.A. Dwiggins Collection (Wing f zP 983 .D94), Newberry Library.
[6] Both copies of Chrystmasse of Olde are in the Boston Public Library, 1974 Dwiggins Collection, Box 36, Folder 20.
[7] A detailed discussion of this map will be the subject of a future post.
[8] There is no documentation of Dwiggins doing such a job for Grover in his account books, but they are not entirely reliable. There was a job that Dwiggins did for Grover at that time for which he did not get paid. A copy of Cradle Lullabies is in the Boston Public Library, 2001 Abbe Collection, Shelf 14 suggesting that Dorothy Abbe suspected the book was the work of Dwiggins.