The Definitive Dwiggins no. 80—The Society of Calligraphers

The first Society of Calligraphers was formed by Edward Johnston (1872–1944), Eric Gill (1882–1940), Percy Smith (1882–1948), and others in 1907, but by 1910 it had dissolved—possibly due to accusations by Johnston of plagiarism regarding Smith’s portfolio Lettering and Writing (London: B.T. Batsford, 1908). Eventually it was replaced by the London-based Society of Scribes and Illuminators in 1921. Between then and the early 1970s a handful of other groups devoted to the propagation of calligraphy were established: in 1935 the short-lived Cursive Group in England, in 1949 the Society of Calligraphers in Los Angeles (disbanded by 1953) and the International Association of Master Penmen and Teachers of Handwriting (renamed in 1973 as the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting or IAMPETH), in 1952 the Society for Italic Handwriting (SIH), and in 1957 the Western American branch of the SIH in Portland, Oregon in 1957. Since 1974, however, there has been an explosion of calligraphy groups not only in England and the United States, but throughout the world. [1]

At nearly the same time that Johnston, Gill and Smith were establishing a Society of Calligraphers in England, W.A. Dwiggins had the idea for a similarly-named organization in the United States. On September 10, 1907 he wrote his Frederic W. Goudy, his former teacher and colleague:

Have had a big idea for some months that it would be good fun to start a Society of Calligraphers or something like that, damned exclusive and toppy—the two of us to begin with, in fact—devoted solely to fine lettering and writing. Nothing serious or massive to start with, but just a spot around which to aggregate in the future. There certainly are not (to be modest) any other blokes that have a better right than we to draw up the specifications, and I think maybe in course of time we could have a nice little thing out of it. [2]

He said he was too busy at the present to work out the details of the society but wanted Goudy’s response. What Goudy thought of the idea is unknown as no return letter has survived. But, whatever he thought, Dwiggins’ idea was still-born.

Cover of Extracts from An Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books as They Are at Present Published (Boston: W.A. Dwiggins and L.B. Siegfried for the Society of Calligraphers, 1919). Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

Cover of Extracts from An Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books as They Are at Present Published (Boston: W.A. Dwiggins and L.B. Siegfried for the Society of Calligraphers, 1919). Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

Twelve years later, though, the Society of Calligraphers spectacularly emerged with the publication of a pamphlet entitled Extracts from An Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books as They Are at Present Published Undertaken by The Society of Calligraphers (Boston: W.A. Dwiggins and L.B. Siegfried for the Society of Calligraphers, 1919). [3]  This new Society of Calligraphers was very different from the one Dwiggins had envisioned in his letter to Goudy. It was a fictitious successor to the fictitious firm of  Thedam Püterschein’s Sons that he and Siegfried had created in 1913 as a front for his non-commercial activities. As such it existed in name only. There were no members, only a President (Hermann Püterschein) and a Secretary (W.A. Dwiggins).

The Society of Calligraphers was not a group of individuals devoted to the pursuit of calligraphy, but a vehicle for Dwiggins to promote himself, his work and his ideas. [4] Several years after Extracts from an Investigation the Society published two Bulletins  of Transactions of the Society of Calligraphers (No. 1, in two parts, on January 1, 1924 and No. 2 on February 3, 1925), both with texts attributed to H. Püterschein. The first focused on Püterschein’s (Dwiggins’) ideas on illustrating books while the second recorded Dwiggins’ efforts to create a new method of making ornaments. Like Extracts from an Investigation, the Bulletins were intended to get the attention of publishers in the hopes that they would commission Dwiggins to design books. While Extracts seemed to have failed in this mission, it seems that the Bulletins succeeded as Dwiggins’ career as a book designer essentially began a year later with designs for Nobodaddy by Archibald MacLeish (Cambridge: Dunster House, 1926), Streets in the Moon by MacLeish (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1926) and My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926). He illustrated the latter.

Bulletin No. 2 of the Transactions of The Society of Calligraphers (February 3, 1925). Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

Bulletin No. 2 of the Transactions of The Society of Calligraphers (February 3, 1925). Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

Title page of Paraphs by Hermann Püterschein (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928). Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

Title page of Paraphs by Hermann Püterschein (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928). Design by W.A. Dwiggins.

In 1928 Alfred A. Knopf published Paraphs by Hermann Püterschein as No. 1 of the Publications of the Society of Calligraphers. In discussing the book’s publicity campaign, Dwiggins told Knopf:

Throughout the Calligraphers and Püterschein enterprises, I have always held to an air of the gravest decorum, i.e., I have never introduced any note of burlesque. All those who have played the game with me (e.g. Harry Kent in the Metropolitan Museum Bulletin) have caught the tone precisely; so that so far there has been nothing to shake anyone’s confidence in the Society’s actual existence. [5]

The Society seemed to fade away after Paraphs came out, though Püterschein continued to exist. [6] It had achieved its goal.

Honorary Members of the Society of Calligraphers
The eventual success of the Society as a promotional vehicle for Dwiggins’ desire to shift his career from advertising to book design is due to more than the contents of the two Bulletins of Transactions of the Society of Calligraphers. It can be attributed as much, if not more so, to Dwiggins’ decision to add honorary members to the Society. This occurred in May 1925, only a few months after the publication of Bulletin No. 2, when he designed and mailed out elaborate hand-lettered certificates—printed letterpress but with an original multicolored stenciled illustration at the top, stenciled initial T, and a large embossed seal—signed by Püterschein as the Society’s President and himself as its Secretary to twenty-two worthy individuals. [7] The certificate, in appreciation of efforts toward “maintaining a high standard in the practice of the Fine Arts” was accompanied by a letter of explanation, and a broadside setting forth the purpose of the Society, its requirements for honorary membership, and a list of the honorary members. [8]

Society of Calligraphers certificate of Honorary Membership for Henry Lewis Bullen (1925). Design, illustration and calligraphy by W.A. Dwiggins.

Society of Calligraphers certificate of Honorary Membership for Henry Lewis Bullen (1925). Design, illustration and calligraphy by W.A. Dwiggins.

Letter from W.A. Dwiggins to Rudolph Ruzicka (29 May 1925) regarding honorary membership in the Society of Calligraphers. Courtesy of the Rauner Library, Dartmouth College.

Letter from W.A. Dwiggins to Rudolph Ruzicka (29 May 1925) regarding honorary membership in the Society of Calligraphers. Courtesy of the Rauner Library, Dartmouth College.

The Articles and Honorary Members of the Society of Calligraphers (1925). Calligraphy and design by W.A. Dwiggins.

Articles and List of Honorary Members of the Society of Calligraphers (1925). Design and calligraphy by W.A. Dwiggins.

Despite its name, the Society of Calligraphers was emphatically not an organization devoted to calligraphy or the art of beautiful writing. [9] Its mandate, as set forth in Article I, was much broader:

The Society of Calligraphers exists to stimulate interest in the production of Fine Printing; to foster the appreciation of the graphic arts allied with printing; and, particularly, to contribute toward maintaining the dignity of the characters of the alphabet. [10]

Article XVI explained the criteria—distinguished “accomplishment in the Arts”—for being chosen as an honorary member of the Society and the obligations and privileges of such membership, most notably exemption “from the payment of an entrance fee, and from all dues.” [11] The criteria for honorary membership was simple and deliberately broad in order to explain the inclusion of the diverse men (and one woman) chosen.

Given that the Society of Calligraphers was not devoted to calligraphy it is not surprising that the list of honorary members included only a few of the accomplished calligraphers, letterers and type designers of the time. Among the missing Americans were Fred G. Cooper, Harvey Hopkins DunnT.B. Hapgood, Walt Harris, Adrian Iorio, Walter Dorwin Teague, and George Trenholm; and prominent among the missing Europeans were Edward Johnston, Eric Gill, and Rudolf Koch. These men were left out because the honorary members were chosen to serve Dwiggins’ own ends.

The creation of honorary members of the Society of Calligraphers served two purposes for Dwiggins. First, it strengthened the notion that the Society was real, even if many of those honored knew otherwise. And second, it furthered his self-promotional efforts. Thus, the list included book publishers, printers, book designers, advertising men, illustrators, and librarians as well as lettering artists and type designers. Their names are not well known today other than one or two, but each one was carefully considered by Dwiggins. Here is a run-down of the honorary members in alphabetical order as set forth on Dwiggins’ broadside.

George G. Adomeit (1879–1967) was the president of the Caxton Company, a printing company in Cleveland that also undertook advertising work. Dwiggins worked with Adomeit on several jobs between 1917 and 1924: advertisements for Pathfinder and Packard cars, illustrations for a book celebrating the history of the Society for Savings in Cleveland, a binding pattern for a book about the Lundoff Bicknell Co., and booklets for both the Haines Piano Co. and Ampico (American Piano Company). [12] Dwiggins also contributed a cover design, title page ornament, and three headpieces for Attitudes vol. 3, no. 1 (1927), the Caxton Company house organ. [13]

Title page of Attitudes, vol. 3, no. 1 (1927) by The Caxton Company. Decorative design by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Title page of Attitudes, vol. 3, no. 1 (1927) by The Caxton Company. Decorative stencil design by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Beatrice L. Becker was the maiden name of Beatrice Warde. (1900–1969), best-known as the long-time publicist for the Monotype Corporation and for her writings on typography. At the time that Dwiggins made her an honorary member she had not yet moved to England to work for Monotype and had not yet written her groundbreaking article on the origins of the Garamond types. She was still working at American Type Founders as an assistant to Henry Lewis Bullen, founder of the ATF Library. While there she had urged the company to hire Dwiggins to design some calligraphic flourishes and borders for it, a suggestion that was not adopted but which Dwiggins surely appreciated. [14]

John Bianchi (1874–1957) oversaw the daily operations of The Merrymount Press. Since 1915 he had been a partner of Daniel Berkeley Updike, the press’ founder. Dwiggins did an immense amount of work for The Merrymount Press between 1906 and 1932, some of it commissioned by Bianchi.

Edgar Sumner Bliss (1867–1941) was the president of the Worthy Paper Co. from 1896 to his retirement in 1930. He was described as having “probably contributed more to the development of fine papers than any other man in the history of American paper-making.” [15] Dwiggins had done work for Bliss and the Worthy Paper Co. three months before the honorary members were anointed.

Henry Lewis Bullen (1857–1938) joined American Type Founders in 1892 as the manager of its New York City branch. He later became the company’s advertising manager and also the founder of its Typographic Library and Museum. Dwiggins specifically cited Bullen’s latter role as librarian in his honorary membership certificate. Dwiggins must have met him, along with Beatrice Becker, on his visit to ATF in February 1924. [16]

Earnest Elmo Calkins (1868–1964) was the co-founder of Calkins and Holden, one of the most influential American advertising agencies of the first half of the 20th century. With his partner Ralph Holden he co-authored Modern Advertising (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1905). Dwiggins visited Calkins and Holden in 1908, but the firm only commissioned one design from him, a letterhead in 1923. [17]

Thomas Maitland Cleland (1880–1964) was a magazine art director, book designer, illustrator, and advertising designer. When he was art director of McClure’s Magazine he hired Dwiggins to do several illustration and decoration jobs. The two men knew each other through doing work for Daniel Berkeley Updike and The Merrymount Press who, unbeknownst to them, often pitted them against each other for jobs. Dwiggins designed the keepsake for Cleland’s talk on Bodoni to the Society of Printers in 1913. [18] The two men were never close friends, but Dwiggins respected Cleland and his various talents as designer, illustrator, decorative artist, and calligrapher. [19] Certainly Cleland’s role in the design and production of A Grammar of Color would have cemented his place as an honorary member of the Society of Calligraphers.

The Marchbanks Calendar November 1924. Design by T.M. Cleland. Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

The Marchbanks Calendar November 1924. Design by T.M. Cleland. Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. Cleland designed all twelve monthly mailings of the calendar. Each displays his abilities as an illustrator, ornamentalist, calligrapher and colorist.

Oswald Bruce Cooper (1879–1940) was a classmate of Dwiggins at the Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago. In conjunction with John Reed, another classmate, they established The Ridge Shop, a very short-lived private press. Although Dwiggins and Cooper were only rarely in touch with each other after 1902, they remained good friends. [20] Cooper was arguably the most talented lettering artist of his generation and thus well qualified to be an honorary member of the Society of Calligraphers.

Advertisement for Atkinson, Mentzer & Company in The School Arts Magazine (1913). Handlettered by Oswald Cooper.

Advertisement for Atkinson, Mentzer & Company in The School Arts Magazine (1913). Entirely handlettered by Oswald Cooper.

John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) was very active in bibliophile and printing circles as well as the library world. He was the librarian of the Free Public Library of Newark, the founder of the Newark Museum, and the founding spirit behind the Carteret Book Club. Dwiggins was included in the club’s fifth exhibition in 1920 devoted to the evolution of the “Art of the Book.” Dana was on the jury for the One Thousand Dollar Prize Contest for Halftone Printing on Bond Paper inaugurated by Crocker-McElwain Company in 1918, but not completed until early 1920. Dwiggins designed the publicity material and certificates for the contest. [21]

Frederic W. Goudy (1865–1947) was the most important of Dwiggins’ teachers at the Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago. He taught lettering and ornament, two skills that became essential elements in Dwiggins’ arsenal as a commercial artist. Although primarily known as a type designer today, Goudy was equally renowned for his lettering skills in the early 20th century. As indicated at the beginning of this post, Dwiggins’ initial idea for a Society of Calligraphers was first broached to Goudy.

Cover of Guarantee Trust & Banking Company brochure (n.d.). Design, ornament and lettering by Frederic W. Goudy.

Cover of Guarantee Trust & Banking Company brochure (n.d.). Design, ornament and lettering by Frederic W. Goudy.

Charles Hopkinson (1869–1962) was a portrait painter and landscape watercolorist. He was a member of the Boston Art Club, as was Dwiggins at this time. His studio was in the Fenway Studios building where Dwiggins had relocated in 1922. It is puzzling why Dwiggins chose to honor Hopkinson rather than either Charles Hovey Pepper or Carl Gordon Cutler who were also members of the Boston Art Club and residents of the Fenway Studios—and with whom he had specific ties. Dwiggins designed the jacket and binding of Modern Color by Cutler and Stephen C. Pepper (Charles Hovey Pepper’s son); and he designed a series of exhibition announcements for the elder Pepper. [22]

Henry Lewis Johnson (1867–1937) was a founding member of the Society of Printers, the founder/editor of The Printing Art and The Graphic Arts magazines. Although Johnson is almost forgotten now, he was a towering figure in the printing and graphic design worlds in the first quarter of the 20th century. He supported Dwiggins by frequently showing his work in his magazines and commissioning him to do work for them and for clients. [23]

Henry W. Kent (1866–1948) was the Secretary to the Board of Trustees at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the founder of the Museum Press, its printing operation.  [24] Although his activities at the Museum are why he was made an honorary member of the Society of Calligraphers, Kent also had personal connections to Dwiggins. He commissioned jobs from Dwiggins both for the Museum and for the Grolier Club as a member of its Publications and House committees. [25]

Shipping label for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1918). Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

Shipping label for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1918). Illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins.

Alfred A. Knopf (1892–1984) was the founder with his wife Blanche of the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1915. Although he is now remembered as one of Dwiggins’ staunchest clients, their relationship had not yet begun at the time Knopf was made an honorary member of the Society of Calligraphers. He was included because his firm had made a name for itself for the quality of its writers and, with limited editions designed by Bruce Rogers and T.M. Cleland among others, for the quality of its books. Knopf was a publisher who seemed to be responding to the criticism that the Society of Calligraphers had leveled at the publishing industry in Extracts from an Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books as They Are at Present Published. Dwiggins was using the honorary membership in the Society to not only commend Knopf, but to hint that he was available as a book designer. Perhaps the strategy worked. The following year Dwiggins designed My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather for Knopf in both a trade and a limited edition. [26]

Title page of Ralph Herne by W.H. Hudson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923). Book design by Bruce Rogers. Note his initials and thistle mark composed of fleurons.

Title page of Ralph Herne by W.H. Hudson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923). Book design by Bruce Rogers. Note his initials and thistle mark composed of fleurons.

Stanley Morison (1889–1967) was the typographic advisor to the Monotype Corporation, a cofounder of the Fleuron Society and its journal The Fleuron, and the author of Four Centuries of Fine Printing (1924) at the time Dwiggins anointed him an honorary member of the Society of Calligraphers. Although he was only at the beginning of his long and illustrious career, these activities and accomplishments alone made him eminently qualified to be so honored. Furthermore, Morison had a deep and long-lasting interest in the history of calligraphy. From a personal standpoint, he had prevailed the year before upon Dwiggins to write an account of The Merrymount Press for the third volume of The Fleuron. Morison was the only non-American among the honorary members which, in itself, was a rare honor. Despite that, years later, he was very critical of Dwiggins’ typefaces.

Bruce Rogers (1870–1957) was the preeminent American book designer of the time. He and Dwiggins had worked together a few years earlier on the design of Modern Color by Carl Gordon Cutler and Stephen C. Pepper for Harvard University Press. Although the two men had differing aesthetic tastes, Dwiggins always held Rogers in high regard. A few months before making Rogers an honorary member of the Society Dwiggins sent him a note in praise of his design of The Construction of Roman Letters by Albrecht Dürer (Cambridge: Dunster House, 1924):

I am cuckoo about that Dürer book. If I start in to tell you how much I like it I shall get mawkish. It hits me in a tender spot, somehow. If I had known what it was like I should have scrambled over to Dunster House to get one. The circular didn’t give me any idea!

It is perfect.

You got there a quality that I have been keen to get lately: a quality that I can only define by the word ‘warmth,’ and that doesn’t mean anything except to me. Some printing has blood flowin around it in its veins, and some doesn’t.

When I thank you for it I mean to convey something more than the usual convention because I really am as tickled as a kid with a new pocket-knife!’ [29]

Carl Purington Rollins (1880–1960) was the Printer to Yale University Press. He and Dwiggins had been close friends since 1906. Rollins often commissioned work from Dwiggins for his Montague Press from 1911 to 1918 and after that for Yale. [27] Rollins was aware of Dwiggins’ plans for the Society of Calligraphers publications as they were being hatched in the early 1920s. He handled the printing of Transactions of the Society of Calligraphers Bulletin No. 1, Parts I and II in 1924. He was in on the identity of Hermann Püterschein early on. When Püterschein objected to Dwiggins receiving the AIGA medal in 1929, he was played by Rollins. [28]

Cover of The Groping Giant: Revolutionary Russia as Seen by an American Diplomat (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920). Cover design by W.A. Dwiggins; interior design by Carl Purington Rollins; printing by E. Hildreth and Company.

The Groping Giant: Revolutionary Russia as Seen by an American Diplomat by William Adams Brown, Jr. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920). Cover design by W.A. Dwiggins; interior design by Carl Purington Rollins; printing by E. Hildreth and Company.

Rudolph Ruzicka (1883–1978) was best known in the early 1920s for his prowess as an illustrator and wood engraver. He and Dwiggins first met in 1911 when both were doing work for Daniel Berkeley Updike and The Merrymount Press and became instant friends. In the early 1920s, Ruzicka was one of Dwiggins’ closest confidantes, along with Carl Purington Rollins. [30] Ruzicka was talented as a letterer and in later years it was Dwiggins who convinced him to become a type designer.

Praga paper specimen for Japan Paper Co. (c.1922). Woodcut illustration by Rudolph Ruzicka.

Praga paper specimen for Japan Paper Co. (c.1922). Woodcut illustration and lettering by Rudolph Ruzicka.

Henry H. Taylor (1879–1937) was a partner, with his brother Edward DeWitt Taylor, in the San Francisco printing firm of Taylor & Taylor. In 1920 the company captured the attention of the printing world in the East when it won silver medals for catalogue and stationery design in the exhibition of printing organized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. [31] Henry H. Taylor had taken a leave from the printing firm in 1912 to attend the Graduate School of Business Administration course in Printing and Publishing at Harvard University where he met Dwiggins who taught a second year class.

Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860–1941) was the founder of The Merrymount Press, the most revered printing establishment of the time. He was a key figure in the creation of the Printing and Publishing Course in the Graduate School of Business at Harvard University and the person responsible for Dwiggins’ participation in it. He was also the author of the groundbreaking two-volume survey Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use: A Study in Survivals (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1922). Although all of these activities and accomplishments guaranteed that he would be one of the honorary members of the Society of Calligraphers, Dwiggins also chose him because of the longtime association the two men had in which Updike served as client, mentor, and friend to the younger man. [32]

Invitation for the 1916 Hunt Ball sponsored by the Norfolk Hunt Club. Printed by The Merrymount Press; hand colored by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy of the Huntington Library.

Invitation for the 1916 Hunt Ball sponsored by the Norfolk Hunt Club. Printed by The Merrymount Press; handcolored by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy of the Huntington Library.

Frank Weitenkampf (1866–1962) was head of the Art and Prints Division of the New York Public Library and, after 1921, the library’s Curator of Prints. Since the two men did not meet until 1928, it is likely that Dwiggins made Weitenkampf an honorary member of the Society of Calligraphers on the strength of his book American Graphic Art (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1912). [33]

George Parker Winship (1871–1952) was the librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University for twenty years before becoming in 1915 the rare book librarian at the Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University. He taught a class in the History of the Printed Book at Harvard that influenced a generation of bibliophiles. Dwiggins knew Winship from at least 1912 when the librarian hired him to design a testimonial of service for the Registrar and Secretary of the Faculty of Brown University. [34]

Most of the honorary members of the Society of Calligraphers were chosen not just for their accomplishments and talents, but also because they had personal connections to Dwiggins. The lack of such a connection is one explanation for the absence not only of such lettering luminaries as F.G. Cooper, Harvey Hopkins Dunn, and Walter Dorwin Teague, but also of other important figures in the printing and graphic arts fields such as Morris Fuller Benton, Will Bradley, Porter Garnett, the Grabhorn brothers, J. Horace McFarland, and John Henry Nash. The omission of several notables who worked with Dwiggins—e.g. Elmer Adler, Harry Gage, C.H. Griffith, and Frederic Warde—is due to the fact that their association began after 1925. Finally, it is very likely that Dwiggins would have included others he had worked with (e.g. Hal Marchbanks, Norman T.A. Munder, or William A. Kittredge) on his list if there had been room in the design of his broadside. [35]

Responses by fifteen of the honorary members to receiving their certificate of membership exist. [36] Several of them tried to match Dwiggins’ humor but failed to understand it. For instance, Updike wrote, on a letterhead dated the “Feast of Stephen 1925”:

For altho my services to Calligraphy as an Art have been confined to encouraging Those who Write to also Learn to Spell: as well as to supply Beautiful Writing at prices sufficiently Low to permit us to charge a handsome—tho undetected—margin on the product—none the less I hasten to assert—what it would be idle to deny—that I have contributed enormously to the Object of the Society, by writing so illegibly that all my letters demand transcription if they are to be read at all. [37]

Others seemed to simply take delight in getting an example of work by Dr. Püterschein.

Most of Mr. Dwiggins’s friends are aware of his Puterschein [sic] phase and accept their testimonials without too much astonishment. Not so a famous private library in New York to which Dr. Dwiggins-Puterschein [sic] dispatched one of his most lavish diploma effects. Within a few days the eminent doctor had received an ecstatic acknowledgment from the library and the news that the membership announcement has been suitably framed and hung in a prominent place among the other art treasures. And was Dr. Hermann Puterschein [sic] embarrassed? If you think so, you just don’t know W.A. Dwiggins. [38]

News of the certificates inevitably leaked out—perhaps as Dwiggins intended it to—and E.G. Gress, editor of The American Printer reproduced one of the certificates in the September 20, 1925 issue with this comment: “It may interest my readers to know that the secretary, W.A. Dwiggins, is non existent. President Püterschein acts as secretary, and uses the nom de plume of Dwiggins to give tone to the documents.” [39] He also complained that he had not been included among the Society of Calligraphers honorary members. A month later that “oversight” had been rectified. Gress received his “certificate” along with this note, “To Mr. Edmund Gress / THE SOCIETY OF CALLIGRAPHERS / desires to express its appreciation of the / keenness of penetration exhibited on page 41 of The / American Printer of September 20, 1925.” [40]

I suspect that what Gress received was not the large certificate sent out to the honorary members but an appreciation card similar to the one shown below that Dwiggins sent Bennett Cerf, co-founder of the publishing firm Random House, in 1942. [41]

Society of Calligraphers appreciation note to Bennett Cerf (August 17, 1942). Courtesy of Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Society of Calligraphers appreciation card to Bennett Cerf (August 17, 1942). Courtesy of Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Finally, there is a pencil sketch by Dwiggins dated 1951 for a certificate of membership in the Society of Calligraphers for Dorothy Abbe, but whether or not a final design was ever made is not known. [42] Abbe was Dwiggins’ caretaker for the final years of his life and his partner in the Püterschein-Hingham private press. It was through her efforts that the two Dwiggins Collections, along with the studio and marionette rooms, exist today at the Boston Public Library. [43]

Stationery
To insure that the Society of Calligraphers would be taken seriously Dwiggins designed a letterhead (shown above as letter to Rudolph Ruzicka), half-sheet, envelope, mailing label, and seal for it. He also created an appreciation card (see directly above), possibly in response to Gress’ politicking. In 1927 the letterhead was reproduced in dark green as part of the Model Letterheads Printed on Certificate Bond portfolio produced by the Crocker-McElwain Company. The envelope is notable for its exuberant paraph below “Society of Calligraphers”—and its rose color. In contrast, the mailing seal is black on acid green. With these designs for the Society of Calligraphers, Dwiggins was beginning to explore wild and unusual colors, something which would come to characterize his work during the second half of his career.

Society of Calligraphers envelope. Design and calligraphy by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy Robert B. Haas Family Library, Yale University.

Society of Calligraphers envelope addressed to Carl Purington Rollins (1925). Design and calligraphy by W.A. Dwiggins (c.1923). Courtesy Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University.

Envelope addressed to Carl Purington Rollins with Society of Calligraphers mailing label. Label designed by W.A. Dwiggins. Courtesy of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University.

Envelope addressed to Carl Purington Rollins with Society of Calligraphers mailing label. Label designed by W.A. Dwiggins (c.1922). Courtesy of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University.

The Society of Calligraphers served Dwiggins in several capacities. It was an opportunity to create designs free of commercial pressures or interference. It was a vehicle for his writings, both fictional and professional; and his experiments in book design, illustration and ornamentation. And it was a means of promoting himself without being pushy or succumbing to puffery. Thus, it is not surprising that the Society went into hibernation after the publication of Paraphs in 1928. By that time, Dwiggins had successfully begun his transition from the world of advertising to that of book design and no longer had need of the Society’s help.

Notes
1. For the full chronology of calligraphic societies between 1900 and 2000 see A Chronology of the Lettering Arts from 1850 to 2000: A Work in Progress by Paul Shaw (Alphabet vol. 25, no. 3 [Spring 2000] and Scripsit vol. 24, nos. 1 & 2 [Summer 2000]). For a current list of such groups see the website of the Friends of Calligraphy.
2. W.A. Dwiggins to Frederic W. Goudy, 10 September 1907 in Folder 31, Box 9, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
3. Years later, Siegfried told Paul A. Bennett of The Typophiles explained his role in the pamphlet’s creation: “The text had been almost completed at the time I got out of the navy at the end of June, 1919, and I was quite surprised and very much delighted to find that my name had been included on the MS title page. The reason Bill included it probably was that the Society of Calligraphers was a sort of spiritual successor to, or anyhow an offshoot of, the firm of Thedam Püterschein’s Sons and, to that extent anyhow, was a continuation of the prewar publishing activities in which we had been jointly implicated. I had a hand in editing, proofreading, seeing the book through the press (it was printed by Lincoln & Smith, Boston), and in shaping the final conclusion regarding the study of advertising; otherwise the project, finances included, was entirely Bill’s.” See Laurance B. Siegfried to Paul A. Bennett, 17 October 1944 in Folder 493, Box 16, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
4. Dorothy Abbe, Dwiggins’ colleague late in his career and the force behind the creation of the Dwiggins Collection at the Boston Public Library, claimed that Dwiggins created the Society in order to have an audience for his personal activities. See her unpublished typescript biography of Dwiggins (1972), p. 20 in Folder 181, Box 31, WAD 2001. I believe that she underestimated the many ways that Dwiggins used the Society, as he did his alter ego Hermann Püterschein, to promote himself while avoiding the appearance of self-promotion.
5. See W.A. Dwiggins to Alfred A. Knopf, 8 November 1927 in Folder 132, Box 31, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
6. Paraphs, the only book in the Publications of the Society of Calligraphers series, was the last publication to bear the Society’s imprint. Around 1925 Dwiggins had explored an illustrated edition of the tales of Sinbad that never came to fruition. “Three Designs for / SINBAD / published by / The Society of Calligraphers” may have been intended as another Bulletin of the Transactions of the Society of Calligraphers. Illustrations for it exist in different states of completion in Box 8, 1974 W.A. Dwigggins Collection, Boston Public Library and Folder 31, Box  36, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. The last known use of the Society as a Dwiggins promotional vehicle is in the title that his friend Carl Purington Rollins gave for the typescript of his speech made at the opening of the Dwiggins exhibition sponsored by the American Institute of Graphic Arts: “Transactions of The Society of Calligraphers Supplementary Proceedings 17 November 1937.”  See Folder 3, Box 33, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
7. The woodcut and the artwork for the Society of Calligraphers seal is in Box 47, WAD 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library, while the mold for it is in Box 99 of the same collection.
8. Original drawings for the certificate along with printed copies are in Box 47, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library, while Box 43 of the same collection has additional copies. A master stenciled copy, in a special portfolio box, is in Folder 11, Box 36, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. One of the BPL copies was originally given to Frederic W. Goudy. The only other known completed copy is the one for Henry Lewis Bullen in Box 25, Typographic (ATF) Collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. Two partial copies, one only of the stenciled illustration at the top and the other missing the portion below the initial T, are in two different collections at the Rochester Institute of Technology: Dwiggins Box No. 2, Melbert G. Cary Collection and the Paul Standard Papers. A different printed version with the text in cursive is in Box 35, Series VII, Carl Purington Rollins Papers, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University. Dated 15 July 1921 on its back, it indicates that Dwiggins had been planning to create the honorary members several years earlier. Also see the account book entry for 17–18 March 1920 marked “Calligraphers Certificate” in Folder 13, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
9. It is interesting that Dwiggins called his fictitious organization the Society of Calligraphers. Although “calligraphy” (meaning “beautiful writing”) is a commonly used term today, it was often avoided at the time in favor of “lettering,” which is both broader and less judgmental. In fact, Edward Johnston had deliberately labeled his seminal book Writing & Illuminating, & Lettering (London: John Hogg, 1906). I suspect Dwiggins chose “calligraphy” both for its general unfamiliarity as a word as well as for its implication of excellence. Both connotations are no longer applicable as the word is not only familiar today, but used to refer to many works that are neither beautiful nor examples of writing.
10. The wording is notable for referring to “graphic arts” rather than “graphic design.” In this Dwiggins followed the common practice of the day (e.g. the American Institute of Graphic Arts). For more about the misunderstanding of Dwiggins as the putative coiner of the phrase “graphic design” see my posts on the subject: June 4, 2014June 8, 2014 and The Definitive Dwiggins no. 81.
11. This line was clearly included to assure the honorary members that there were no financial strings attached to the honor. There is no evidence that the articles between I and XVI ever existed.
12. Adomeit paid Dwiggins’ invoice for the Packard advertisement job in five days. Dwiggins’  account book entry includes this note: “Paid like a gentlehomme.” See the entry for 17 May 1918 in Dwiggins Account Books, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
13. Attitudes was first published in 1912. See The Inland Printer, vol. 50, no. 5 (February 1913), p. 713 for an early cover.
14. See Beatrice Becker to W.A. Dwiggins 1 February 1924 in the ATF Collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University; and Beatrice Lamberton Becker to Daniel Berkeley Updike 25 September 1924 in the Paul Bennett Collection on Frederic Warde, Grolier Club.
15. Obituary in The Princeton Alumni Weekly, vol. XLII, no. 27 (May 1, 1942), p. 19.
16. See the entry for 19–20 February 1924 in Dwiggins’ account books, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
17. It is unclear from the entry whether the letterhead was for Calkins & Holden or possibly for Crane Paper Co. See 27 August 1923 and 13 September 1923, Dwiggins Account Books, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
18. Cleland did work for the S.S. McClure Co. from 1906 to November 1908. He became art director of McClure’s Magazine sometime before December 1907. As art director he commissioned Dwiggins in February 1908 to design decorative frames for four poems and a cover for The Under Groove by Arthur Stringer. One of the poem frames and the book cover design were rejected, replaced by designs by Cleland.
For the poem frames see also T.M. Cleland to D.B. Updike 20 December 1907 in Folder 1907, Box 21, T.M. Cleland Papers MSS 16147, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. For the Society of Printers Bodoni keepsake see the entry for 1 May 1913, Dwiggins Account Books, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. The account books also contain entries for all of the McClure projects, both completed and rejected.

"The Heart Knoweth" by Charlotte Wilson from McClure's Magazine (May 1908, p. 81). Decorative frame by W.A. Dwiggins. Boston Public Library, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Box 41, Folder 33.

“The Heart Knoweth” by Charlotte Wilson from McClure’s Magazine (May 1908, p. 81). Decorative frame by W.A. Dwiggins. Boston Public Library, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Box 41, Folder 33.

19. Although Dwiggins respected Cleland, he was still willing to poke fun at his design predilections and prejudices. See The Definitive Dwiggins no. 67—Drawings that Sell Goods. At some point in his career, Cleland adopted the cancellaresca corsiva as his hand for correspondence.
20. “I last saw Oz in Anno Domini 1902… We exchange notes—short, telegraphic in a way—every eleven years or so—or possibly seventeen. Exchange of views or news is not an essential part of an association of this kind. Each party knows [this party knows, at least] that the other is on the job night and day covering all the fronts, immediately available on call if needed.” From  “Note on Oz” by W.A. Dwiggins in The Book of Oz: An Appreciation of Oswald Bruce Cooper edited by Raymond DaBoll (Chicago: Society of Typographic Arts, 1949), p. 46.
21. A copy of the brochure designed by Dwiggins describing the contest and its winners is in the Crocker-McElwain Folder, Richard C. Jenkinson Collection, Special Collections Division, Newark Public Library. The Jenkinson Collection also includes material that indicates Dana was on Dwiggins’ mailing list since 1919 for publications from the Society of Calligraphers.
22. For the latter see Folders 23, 24 and 29, Box 73, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
23. The early commissions that Johnson gave Dwiggins were minor, such as a set of initials for The Graphic Arts in 1912, but Dwiggins’ ledgers also indicate some more substantive jobs such as the cover for an unspecified Sears Roebuck publication. See the entries for 20 November 1916 and 12 and 23 March 1917, Folder 5, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
24. Kent may be best known for having commissioned Bruce Rogers to design a set of titling capitals for the Museum Press which became the basis for his Centaur typeface. The full story can be found in The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers by Jerry Kelly and Misha Beletsky (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 2016).
25. Kent first hired Dwiggins in 1911 to design the title lettering for the cover of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Arms and Armor. Other jobs for the Museum prior to 1925 included a shipping label for photographs and some certificates. For the Grolier Club Kent hired Dwiggins to design borders and letter signs. See the entries for 18 January 1911, 27 June 1918 and 15 October 1921 for the Museum jobs; and 24 and 26 November 1917, 4 December 1917, and 30 December 1919 for the Grolier Club jobs in the Dwiggins account books, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. A month after Society of Calligraphers certificates were mailed out Kent hired Dwiggins to letter two tablets for Glebe House in Woodbury, Connecticut.
26. See the special edition of Ralph Herne by W.H. Hudson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923) designed by Bruce Rogers and the special edition of Ornaments in Jade by Arthur Machen (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1924) designed by T.M. Cleland.
27. In 1918 the two men were friendly rivals as Dwiggins was briefly art director of the Harvard University Press and Rollins was starting out at the Yale University Press. Dwiggins’ work for Rollins after 1918 was for Yale University as well as for Yale University Press, including a large map of the campus in 1920.
28. For the full story of the Püterschein/Dwiggins AIGA contretemps see Publishers’ Weekly (February 16, 1929), p. 775. Also see E.G. Gress to Carl Purington Rollins, 19 January 1929 in Box 2, Edmund G. Gress Papers, New York Public Library.
29. W.A. Dwiggins to Bruce Rogers, 3 March 1925 in Folder 5, Box 1, Pforzheimer Bruce Rogers Papers, Library of Congress.
30. Dwiggins’ letter referring to his first meeting with Ruzicka is undated, but, based on other correspondence, the meeting took place between May and November of 1911. W.A. Dwiggins to Daniel Berkeley Updike, n.d. File 461, Box 108, The Merrymount Press Collection, The Huntington Library. The correspondence between Ruzicka and Dwiggins was especially heavy in the early 1920s when Dwiggins was trying to shift his career from advertising work to book design and Ruzicka was also looking for new opportunities. See the Dwiggins Correspondence Folder, Box 1, Rudolph Ruzicka Collection UP-66, Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College.
31. Taylor & Taylor celebrated their Eastern success with the publication of The Work of Taylor & Taylor at the Exhibition of American Printing in New York City 1920 (San Francisco: Taylor & Taylor, 1921) which also garnered them national praise.
32. For a summary of the important and complicated relationship that Dwiggins had with Updike see “Dwiggins and Updike: Pupil and Mentor” by Paul Shaw in Parenthesis 27 (Autumn MMXIV).
33. Weitenkampf told Paul A. Bennett that he was astonished to have been elected an honorary member of the Society of Calligraphers. See Frank Weitenkampf to Paul A. Bennett, 27 July 1960 in Box 19, Folder 19, Paul A. Bennett Papers, New York Public Library. Also see note 38 below. Weitenkampf met Dwiggins in 1928 when both men served, along with Charles Dana Gibson, on the jury for the 3rd annual American Book Illustration competition sponsored by the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
34. See W.A. Dwiggins to George Parker Winship, 29 March 1912, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University. A few months later Bruce Rogers hired Dwiggins to letter Winship’s wedding certificate. See the entry for 19 June 1912, Folder 5, Box 81(2), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
35. Dwiggins was in the midst of working with Marchbanks on the printer’s 1925 calendar when the honorary members were announced. He did two jobs with Munder in 1911 and one with Kittredge at the Franklin Printing Co. Dwiggins’ major project with Kittredge, the Lakeside Press edition of the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, did not begin until 1926.
36. They are Adomeit, Becker, Bliss, Calkins, Cleland, Dana, Goudy, Hopkinson, Kent, Knopf, Morison, Rogers, Rollins, Taylor, and Weitenkampf. See Box 44 (1 and 20), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. For some reason Herbert Farrier, president of the Japan Paper Co., also sent a response. Did he receive a certificate of membership later? He certainly deserved one.
37. Daniel Berkeley Updike to W.A. Dwiggins, 26 December 1925, Box 44(1), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. Updike’s description of his handwriting as hard to read is entirely accurate.
38. The certificate referred to must have been Frank Weitenkampf’s. The New York Public Library, despite its name, is actually private. From “0.5 Irving Street: A Typographer and His Puppets [sic]” by Mary Elizabeth Prim in the Boston Evening Transcript 2 February 1935 Magazine Section, p. 3.
39. The American Printer, vol. 81, no. 6, (20 September 1925), p. 41.
40. The American Printer, vol. 81, no. 8 (October 20, 1925), p. ??
41. Bennett Cerf Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. Despite being dated 1942, the card was designed and printed in the early 1920s, possibly in response to Gress’ importuning. A blank copy is in the Carl Purington Rollins Papers, Box 35, Series VII, Carol Purington Rollins Papers, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University.
42. Folder 25, Box 9, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. The folder is labeled Society of Calligraphers Certificate to DA [Dorothy Abbe] but the pencil sketch is the only item in it.
43. For more on Abbe’s life see Strings Attached: Dorothy Abbe, Her Work and WAD by Anne C. Bromer (Boston: Boston Public Library and Society of Printers, 2001).