The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177 addendum no. 1—The Ninety-first Psalm (1906)

Front cover of The Ninety-first Psalm: Reprinted from the King James Version (Hingham Centre, Massachusetts: Will Dwiggins, 1906). Design and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins; printing by the Heintzemann Press; binding by W.A. and Mabel Dwiggins. Image courtesy of Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

After posting The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177 regarding some rotunda sketches that W.A. Dwiggins had made c.1906–1907, I realized I had inadvertently overlooked a significant contemporary example of his work that belonged in the discussion. In the summer of 1906 Dwiggins designed and lettered The Ninety-first Psalm: Reprinted from the King James Version. [1] The label on the front cover is lettered in a very accomplished rotunda (note the ty join, s tucked under r, and position of the hyphen). Dwiggins copied the capitals from Alphabets Old and New by Lewis F. Day (London: B.T. Batsford, 1898), Plate 82 for the N and P, and Plate 87 for the T. He modified the latter with the addition of a second thick vertical decorative stroke. The minuscules are very close to those on the notepaper from The Carolina in Dwiggins’ small scrapbook which I traced to Letters and Lettering by Frank Chouteau Brown (Boston: Bates and Guild, 1902), Plate 141. The principle difference between them and the label letters is that Dwiggins has squared off the tops of the ascenders whereas Brown has a mix of stroke endings. The change is for the better and shows how skillful Dwiggins was at this early stage in his career compared to his American contemporaries.[2] The calligraphy on the label for The Ninety-first Psalm not only reinforces the dating of Dwiggins’ rotunda sketches to 1906, but it suggests that the sketches were research for it rather than for Alfred Bartlett’s greeting cards.

Plate 82 Italian MSS. 15th and 16th Centuries. From Alphabets Old and New by Lewis F. Day (London: B.T. Batsford, 1898).


Notes
1. The Ninety-first Psalm: Reprinted from the King James Version (Hingham Centre, Massachusetts: Will Dwiggins, 1906). The small book is not recorded in Dwiggins’ account books, but some correspondence between Carl Purington Rollins and Daniel Berkeley Updike indicates it was completed by mid-August of 1906. See Carl Purington Rollins to Daniel Berkeley Updike 20 August 1906 at Huntington Library, The Merrymount Press Collection, Box 104, 341:3.
2. Both Dwiggins’ small scrapbook rotunda sketches and the sources he copied can be seen in The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177.