The Definitive Dwiggins no. 81—Addendum to Two Parodies of Bruce Rogers’ Printer’s Device

My blog post The Definitive Dwiggins no. 70—Two Parodies of Bruce Rogers’ Printer’s Device needs to be amended. When I wrote it I was looking for background information on the history of Bruce Rogers’ device with Father Time hacking at a thistle. I was unable to find an answer online as to its origins and so ordered a used copy of B.R. Marks & Remarks (New York: The Typophiles, 1946) in the hope that it might provide an answer. The book has just arrived and it has more than I had expected in it.

B.R. Marks & Remarks confirms my guess that the first instance of the Father Time and thistle device was 1915 on the title page of The Centaur. It is shown on p. 57 as part of “B.R. at the Dyke Mill 1911–1915” by Carl Purington Rollins, but no information on its genesis is provided.

The surprise in B.R. Marks & Remarks is the presence of the 1916 “Salooch” parody by W.A. Dwiggins which I thought I had been the first to discover during my Dwiggins research at the Library of Congress two years ago. It is reproduced in black-and-white at the back of the book as the first of a series of variants and caricatures of Rogers’ mark by his friends. [1] The caption says “New Year’s Greetings by W.A. Dwiggins.” At the Library of Congress Dwiggins’ caricature exists by itself with no indication that it is a New Year’s greeting. I suppose that it could have been taken by Rogers that way since it was probably mailed out early in the year. But I still believe that Dwiggins created it in response to the publication of The Centaur and of the Rogers’ portfolio in The Printing Art.

When I did the post on Dwiggins’ parodies I forgot that I had recently tracked down the original artwork for Dwiggins’ contribution to Barnacles from Many Bottoms in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. [2] A note in pencil by Dwiggins to Paul A. Bennett says, “The BR mark that this improves on was 2 inches high. Shaving-brush thumbing nose at father Time.” Rogers’ Father Time device, as first used on the title page of The Centaur and then reproduced in The Printing Art, was two inches high (the same size it is reproduced at in B.R. Marks & Remarks). Dwiggins’ caricature was considerably larger; hence his comment. The “shaving-brush” refers to the top of the thistle.

1. The only caricatures at the back of B.R. Marks & Remarks are the two by Dwiggins, and one each by Valenti Angelo (1935) and Earl H. Emmons (in which a dog is urinating on the thistle) (1936). However, at the end of “B.R.’s Printer’s Devices” by Henry Watson Kent (p. 14) there is another caricature, drawn by Kent himself which is in the same spirit as those by Dwiggins. See below.
2. The artwork for Dwiggins’ caricature of the Rogers’ device is in Box 1, Ms Collection T-10 00090 Lester Douglas, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. A typed note on the back (probably by Herman Cohen of The Chiswick Bookshop who sold many items from Paul A. Bennett’s estate to various institutions and collectors) says that Dwiggins’ drawing was used for the printed invitation to the dinner as well as being included in Barnacles from Many Bottoms.

Caricature of Bruce Rogers' Printer's Device by Henry Watson Kent (1945). From B.R. Marks & Remarks (New York: The Typophiles, 1946), p. 14.

Caricature of Bruce Rogers’ Printer’s Device by Henry Watson Kent (1945). From B.R. Marks & Remarks (New York: The Typophiles, 1946), p. 14.