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. 21—Dear Diego

While preparing a biography of TDC medalist Louise Fili for the Type Directors Club website, I reread Elegantissima: The Design & Typography of Louise Fili (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). In the section on her work for Pantheon Books I noticed (p. 22) something familiar about the jacket design for Dear Diego by Elena Poniatowska (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986).
Dear Diego by Elena Poniatowska (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986). Jacket design by Louise Fili.
Fili had taken …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 20—A Calendar of Happy Days

Recently I was reorganizing my Dwiggins images and came across a folder labeled “The Printing Studio (WAD & TMC)” consisting of downloaded pages from an issue of The Inland Printer, one of which included a page from “A Calendar of Happy Days” signed WAD while another showed some lettering signed C (for Thomas Maitland Cleland). The Dwiggins work is a bit of a mystery.
“A Calendar of Happy Days”. Lettering and border design by W.A. Dwiggins (1909).
Left: “Labor is …
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Blue Pencil no. 22 addendum

Several years ago I posted a bibliography of books by and about Hermann Zapf (Blue Pencil no. 22). At the time Jerry Kelly indicated I had missed several (see Blue Pencil no. 23), but never provided me with their titles or other information. Since then Akira Kobayashi has obligingly sent me one of the missing items. Here are the details:
Zapf Exhibition: The Calligraphy of Hermann & Gudrun Zapf
Akira Kobayashi, Juzo Takaoka and Masao Takaoka
Tokyo: Japan Letter Arts Forum, …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 17—The Mystery of Dwiggins and Grassby

Moving announcement from The Occasional Bulletin of the White Elephant (1915). Map designed by W.A. Dwiggins.
The week before Thanksgiving in 1914 W.A. Dwiggins moved into a new studio—with “Chinese tea-paper walls—at 26 Lime Street in Boston. Dwiggins announced his move in January 1915 via the publication of the first (and only) issue of The Occasional Bulletin of the White Elephant which contained a map showing both his old address at 69 Cornhill and the new one at 26 Lime Street. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 19—Untrustworthy sources

In researching W.A. Dwiggins for over thirty years I have come across many untrustworthy sources, including Dorothy Abbe, the executor of his estate, and even Dwiggins himself. I was reminded of this yesterday when, at the Thomas J. Watson Library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I came across the New York Times obituary for Dwiggins. Although it was not new to me, I had not read it in several decades and thus had forgotten how many mistakes it contained.
The …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 18—L’Afficheur

“L’Afficheur” by Edmé Bouchardon
W.A. Dwiggins was not always an original illustrator or ornamentalist. He copied the work of Pillement, Flaxman, Choffard, Callot and Bouchardon among others. Not only did his clients—most notably Daniel Berkeley Updike—ask him to copy the work of these artists and illustrators of the past, but sometimes he did so on his own initiative. One such instance is a paper sample insert designed for International Covers*, a Chemical Paper Company brand.
The insert, titled “Old Fashioned Advertising & …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 16—A snowy visit to Boston, part II: Diagrams and maps

During my Boston trip Elizabeth Resnick and I  had appointments to see the archives of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was there to research the work of Muriel Cooper and Jacqueline Casey for the next Codex book I am editing while I was there to see what documents might exist about three projects that Dwiggins did for MIT: the design of a book on electrical engineering, the design of Technology Review magazine, and the design of second number of Footnotes: …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 16—A snowy visit to Boston, part I: A tiny surprise

In early February I made a trip to Boston and the surrounding area to attend a Society of Printers dinner and research two aspects of Dwiggins’ career: his work for paper companies and his work for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I was fortunate to make my visit in a lull between the relentless series of snowstorms that pummeled Boston this past winter.
Despite the mounds of snow piled everywhere the highways were clear enough drive out to the suburbs to look …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 14—Looking for Goddard (sp?)

Tracking down the ephemeral work of W.A. Dwiggins is a painstaking endeavor that often involves wrong turns and dead ends. An instance of this is my search for “Border, music title, Goddard Collection”, an April 9, 1907 entry in Dwiggins’ account books. The job was for D.B. Updike of The Merrymount Press which suggested the ultimate client was G. Schirmer, the large New York music publisher. For many years Schirmer, and its subsidiary Boston Music Co., commissioned The Merrymount Press …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 13—Duo-Art

W.A. Dwiggins did a small number of jobs for music companies between 1917 and 1924. They were done via printing companies in Philadelphia (Franklin Printing) and Cleveland (The Caxton Company). Trying to find examples of the work has been extremely difficult as the references I have are partial and the material clearly ephemeral. But this morning I hit the jackpot. I found two 8-page booklets for the Duo-Art online that Dwiggins worked on: The World’s Supreme Artists and What Possession …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 12—Tracking down an advertisement for Tiffany’s

For the past nine years I have been trying to track down the ephemeral advertising jobs that W.A. Dwiggins did in the years between 1906 and 1930. One that has been particularly elusive and vexing was an apparent advertisement for Tiffany’s.
There are three references in Dwiggins’ account books for such a job: May 14, 1909—“D.B.U. Border for Tiffany adv.”;  July 1910 (no specific date)—“Johnson Printing Art Border lettering & initial Tiffany adv.” and August 3, 1910—“The Printing Art: border, lettering and …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 9 continued—Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency…

Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency Particularly in Point of Its Design by W.A. Dwiggns (Cambridge: Kat Ran Press, 2014). Wrapper: typography by Michael Russem; pattern by Cyrus Highsmith.
Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency Particularly in Point of Its Design
W.A. Dwiggins
New York: The Typophiles; Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher; Kat Ran Press: Cambridge, 2014
This is a reprint of a text originally published by The Limited Editions Club in 1932, now with an introduction by Bruce Kennett. Dwiggins’ …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 addendum to an addendum continued—The Significance of the “Memento of a Catalogue Clinic”

“A Memento of a Catalogue Clinic” is more than an amusing illustration by W.A. Dwiggins.  It is a key document in understanding the transformation of American printing in the first two decades of the 20th century as well as the growth of Dwiggins himself from a commercial artist to a graphic designer.
The catalogue clinic was sponsored by The Society of Printers, an organization founded in 1905 as part of the spread of the English Arts & Crafts movement. It was …
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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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