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.

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 11—Woman’s Home Companion (December 1932)

At the second Heller Fili book sale (see my earlier post) I was astonished at the range of magazines they have collected. Along with the obvious titles (copies of Print, Eye, Fortune, Fact, etc.), there was also  Modern Priscilla, Youth’s Companion, The Delineator, Woman’s Home Companion and much more. When I saw these titles I picked through the issues in the wild hope that I might find an issue with work by W.A. Dwiggins in it. No such luck with the first three titles, but …
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Some items from the Heller Fili sale

Earlier this year, on June 28th, I went to the second Heller Fili book sale with a mixture of excitement and dread. I was eager to see what sort of things Steve Heller and Louise Fili were parting with, but not eager to add more items to my already bulging collection of books and ephemera. And not eager to spend money after a binge at McNally Jackson Books a few days earlier. Partly because I arrived late, I succeeded in buying a …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 10—D.B. Updike and W.A. Dwiggins

The current issue of Parenthesis : The Journal of the Fine Press Book Association (Autumn 2014) includes my article “Dwiggins and Updike: Pupil and Mentor over a Few Years in the Early 20th Century” (pp. 11–17). It is the text for my talk at [R]Evolution in Print: New Work in Printing History & Practice, the 2005 annual conference of the American Printing History Association that was held at Mills College in Oakland, California. It is a condensed version of the …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 addendum to the addendum—Memento of a Catalogue Clinic, 1917

In the addendum to The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 post I included “Memento of a Catalogue Clinic”, a drawing that W.A. Dwiggins (under his alias of Hermann Püterschein) made in 1917 as a keepsake for The Society of Printers. It is one of the Society’s most famous pieces of ephemera and there has always been curiosity as to who the various people are. The reproduction of it in The Printing Art simply referred to those present as “leading members of the Society.” [1] …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 addendum—Who was Charles Fulton Whitmarsh?

In The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 post I included one (possibly two) uncredited designs by W.A. Dwiggins reproduced on a page of “trade-marks” from Applied Art by Pedro J. Lemos (1920), a book I stumbled across earlier this year while in the Bay Area to do research at the Letterform Archive. But I found the book while rummaging around at Black Oak Books in Berkeley with Stephen Coles. The title caught my eye as I am constantly trying …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3—My Long Pursuit of WAD 1978–1980

Within a month or two of moving to New York  I joined several groups in New York dedicated to calligraphy, typography, printing and the book arts: the Society of Scribes, Ltd., the American Printing History Association and the Typophiles. At a meeting of one of the two latter organizations I met Susan Otis Thompson (1931–2008), a professor in the now defunct School of Library Service at Columbia University, who told me—much to my consternation—that she had just completed a book on …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 9—Reform of the Currency

Michael Russem of Kat Ran Press has just announced  that his new edition of Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency by W.A. Dwiggins is ready. Here is his description of the book:
Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency is a passionate and lively little rant with lots of good design ideas for the improvement of banknotes and stamps—and just about anything else. First published in 1932 by the Limited Editions Club in an edition of 452 copies, this new edition is also …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 7—Dwiggins vs. Rand

Kenneth FitzGerald recently posted a blog about the new edition of Thoughts on Design by Paul Rand (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2014) which is not only illuminating about the subtle and undisclosed changes from the original 1947 edition, but is also of interest for its comparison of Rand to W.A. Dwiggins. In sections 8 and 9 of his post, he pairs Thoughts on Design with the second edition (1948) of Layout in Advertising, finding the latter to be “an authentic …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 2—My Long Pursuit of WAD 1966–1977

I first became aware of W.A. Dwiggins at the age of eleven or twelve when my great aunt gave me two volumes of Erik Lindegren’s marvelous ABC of Lettering and Printing Types (New York: Museum Books, 1965)—books which I have mentioned elsewhere in my blog posts. Volume A (Lettering), p. 91 reproduced the opening page of The History of Susanna (New York: Archway Press, 1947), a small book entirely hand lettered by Dwiggins. [1] It did not make much of …
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Blue Pencil no. 22 addendum—The Mystery of Monotype Melior

Since August 11 Jerry Kelly has sent me several emails with suggestions for additions to the list of Hermann Zapf’s typefaces I posted as Blue Pencil no. 22. He has especially been persistent about a Monotype version of Melior, though he has been unable to provide much information about it. Initially he simply said that Pat Taylor (1930–2012), owner of Out of Sorts Press & Letter Foundry & Press, offered the face in the 1980s. More recently, he has …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 1—A Year (and Counting) of Dwiggins Mania

“Publicity: How to harness bill-board power with International Covers” advertising insert in Direct Advertising (vol. VII, no. 2). Design, illustration and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins, 1920.
I have been studying William Addison Dwiggins (1880–1956) for over three and a half decades. Interest in his life and work was at an ebb when I began my research in 1978, but it began to pick up in the mid-1980s and has steadily grown since. A watershed moment was 2006, the year that …
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More on Garamond no. 3 (and some notes on Gutenberg)

After writing about the history of Garamond no. 3 I came across a copy of The Linotype Magazine (vol. XVIII, no. XI) for September 1927 which includes “A Showing of the Linotype Garamond Series.” It has a showing of Garamond [no. 1], Garamond Bold [no. 1]—both equipped with several swash capitals—and a set of supplemental border designs by T.M. Cleland (pp. 174–176). There is no accompanying text. Although the identity of the designer of the swash capitals is not revealed, …
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The Mystery of Garamond no. 3

I have always wondered why the version of Garamond issued by Mergenthaler Linotype in 1936 is called Garamond no. 3. (This is the proper name of the typeface often erroneously called Garamond 3 today). Whatever happened to Garamond no. 1 and Garamond no. 2? Did they ever exist?
As usual, whenever I have a question of this sort, I turn first to Mac McGrew to see what he says. His book American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Books, …
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The Rchive no. 20—Neon in San Francisco

Here is a neon R from San Francisco. D & M Liquor at 2200 Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights is described online as a family-owned store—the “D & M” stands for “Dad & Mom”—that was established in 1935. This sign may date from the late 1930s, given the Art Deco flavor of its R. It is included in The San Francisco Neon Project blog, but without any information.
Detail of R from D & M Liquors
The lettering on the …
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Script Type Terminology: A preview of a new book

These pages are from The Roots of Script, the working title for a book on script typefaces that Abby Goldstein and I have been writing since 2010. They are part of the opening section titled “How to Look at Scripts.” Scripts are not like other typefaces. There is almost no existing terminology to describe their letter parts other than terms used in the world of calligraphy. We adopted many of them, but still ended up inventing others.
The first three sheets …
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Thoughts on Letterform Nomenclature

Having criticized most existing letterform terminology diagrams it seems only fair that I show what I use. These sheets were begun a few years ago for my SVA students but I have never found the time to polish them. Since they don’t yet have any arrows, circles or coloration to indicate exactly what is being described I have added some commentary. Please excuse the missing examples and other glitches. Perhaps this post will spur me to finish them.
The first two …
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