Detail of title for typographic calendar published by PM Typographers in 1984. Designed by Tony DiSpigna.

Palermo roman and italic typefaces cut by Giambattista Bodoni. From his 1788 Manuale Tipografico.

Detail from the Mausoleo Ossario Garibaldino (1941), a Fascist monument erected to honor the dead of the battles between 1849 and 1870 to liberate Rome from the control of the Papal States. Designed by Giovanni Jacobucci.

Detail from business card from John Baxter & Son, Edinburgh printers. An example of Artistic Printing (1893).

Detail from bauhaus dessau im gewerbemuseum basel exhibition poster (1929). Designed by Franz Ehrlich after a sketch by Joost Schmidt.

Blue Pencil

Blue Pencil is a “slog”: a slow blog. It does not get updated daily or even on a regular schedule. Instead, it gets updated when there is something of value to be posted. Postings often take a long time to prepare and appear at intervals of a few weeks or even months. Sometimes there is a flurry of postings within the span of a few days. Blue Pencil may be unpredictable in its frequency, but not in its purpose. Blue Pencil is fiercely dedicated to the 3Rs: research, reading and writing.

Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 8—Concentration (1919)

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
“The war’s lesson to advertisers…” advertisement for Strathmore Quality Papers in The Inland Printer vol. 62, no. 6 (March 1919).
For various reasons, the exhibition deliberately avoided …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 7—The Search for a Slogan (1913–1920)

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
paper does express insert from Strathmore Paper Co. in The Printing Art Suggestion Book (1916).
During the decade that followed the merger of the Mittineague Paper Co. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 67—Drawings that Sell Goods

In the spring of this year I traveled to Boston to hear Bruce Kennett deliver the annual W.A. Dwiggins Lecture at the Boston Public Library. It was a good talk. Although there were a few mistakes, I learned some new things about Dwiggins. One of them was that Dwiggins had parodied three of his contemporaries in an article he had written (under the name of his alter ego) about illustrations in  advertising. I had read  “Drawings that Sell Goods” by …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 66—Modern Color

Modern Color by Carl Gordon Cutler and Stephen C. Pepper (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1923) is a book that lies at a crucial juncture in the life and career of W.A. Dwiggins. [1] It was published in 1923, the year that Dwiggins made the decision to shift his work from advertising design to book design. [2] It was a time when he was in the midst of his experiments with using wooden stamps to create decorations and other designs; …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 6—The Thistle 1912–1919

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Blandford Deckle-Edge Book-Paper sample book (Strathmore Paper Co., 1918). Cover design by T.B. Hapgood. Photograph by Vincent Trinacria.
Although over 280 different iterations of the thistle have …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 63—The Merrymount Press, W.K. Bixby, and Toile du Jouy

A Letter from Benjamin Franklin on Balloons (St. Louis: Privately printed, 1922). Cover design by W.A. Dwiggins. Printed by The Merrymount Press.
One of Daniel Berkeley Updike’s most faithful clients from the mid-1910s through the end of the 1920s was William K. Bixby, a wealthy St. Louis industrialist, philanthropist, collector, and traveler. He collected art, rare books, manuscripts, and autographed letters. The latter two items were often printed in facsimile form by The Merrymount Press as gifts for Bixby …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 5—Consolidation 1912

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Woronoco Bristols sample book (Strathmore Paper Co., 1912). Cover design by Will Bradley. Photograph by Vincent Trinacria.
In June 1911 Horace A. Moses announced that he was …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 4—Woronoco Quality

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Fairfield Covers sample book (Woronoco Paper Co., c.1909). Photograph by Vincent Trinacria.
In 1907 the Woronoco Paper Co. began touting the quality of its papers in the …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 3—Strathmore Quality and the Origins of the Thistle

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Alexandra Japan sample book (Mittineague Paper Co., 1910). Designer unknown. Photograph by Vince Trinacria.
The Strathmore name and its thistle mark predate the company name. Company accounts …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 61—W.A. Dwiggins and George F. Trenholm

In several Definitive Dwiggins posts I have investigated the sources where W.A. Dwiggins got his illustration, decoration and lettering ideas. But, as much as he copied other people, other people copied him. One of the most persistent Dwiggins imitators was George F. Trenholm (1886–1958), a contemporary colleague and rival. [1] He is barely remembered today, except as a type designer—and even then his typefaces (such as Cornell and Waverly) are not household names. But before he began designing typefaces …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 62—Medway

In several other Definitive Dwiggins posts I have documented the scut work that W.A. Dwiggins did for Daniel Berkeley Updike and The Merrymount Press. Now I have discovered a similar menial job he did for his close friend Carl Purington Rollins (1880–1960), Printer to Yale University. [1] In Dwiggins’ account books there is this entry for November 6, 1921: “Yale Press trim up word ‘Medway’”. [2]
Medway (Japan Paper Company) paper promotion designed and printed by Carl Purington Rollins (1922). …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 2—A Tale of Two Mills 1892–1911 (Part III)

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Alexis Cover Papers sample book from Mittineague Paper Co. (c.1899). Designer unknown. The title is set in Bradley Text. Photograph by Vincent Trinacria.
Fairfield Parchment sample …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 2—A Tale of Two Mills 1892–1911 (Part II)

This is one in a series of blog posts accompanying Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
The Colonial Book of the Towle Mfg. Co. (Newburyport, Massachusetts: Towle Mfg. Co., 1898). Title page design by Will Bradley.
Bradley’s designs for Mittineague were very different …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 1—Preface

This is the first blog post in a series intended to accompany Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design by Paul Shaw. Catalogue title page design by Jennifer …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 2—A Tale of Two Mills 1892–1911 (Part I)

This is the second blog post to accompany Paper Is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design 1892–2017, an exhibition that I have curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition runs from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Cover of The Inland Printer vol. XIII, no. 5 (August 1894). Design by Will Bradley.
Cover of The Inland Printer vol. XIV, no. 6 (March 1895). Design by Will Bradley.
Will …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 58—Seven Famous Novels of H.G. Wells

Throughout his life W.A. Dwiggins was enthralled by the writings of H.G. Wells (1866–1946). He was constantly looking for opportunities to design and illustrate his tales of fantasy and science fiction. In the two part Bulletin No. I of the Transactions  of the Society of Calligraphers (January 1, 1924), Dwiggins, in the guise of his alter ego Hermann Püterschein, presented studies for book page designs of two books by Wells: When the Sleeper Awakes (Part I) and The …
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