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. 24—The 1960s (Part I: The Pushpin Style)

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 curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition ran from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
“If All the World Were Paper” mailer cover (Strathmore Paper Co., 1964). Design by Push Pin Studios. Photograph by Vincent Giordano.
Seventy years after its founding, the Strathmore …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 23—The Return of Will Bradley

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 curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition ran from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Invitation to Strathmore Luncheon Honoring Will Bradley at the University Club, New York CIty (1954). Photograph by Ariel Smullen.
Will Bradley was rediscovered at the age of 82. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 71—Metaphlap-Jerbiam

Metaphlap-Jerbiam “Celebration” (Fiddlestrummings) (1916). Illustration by Hermann Püterschein (pseud. W.A. Dwiggins); calligraphy by W.A. Dwiggins.
Another peculiar bit of Dwigginsiana is Metaphlap-Jerbiam “Celebration” (Fiddlestrummings) (1916), a satirical poem written out calligraphically and illustrated by Dwiggins (in the guise of Hermann Püterschein). It consists of a single sheet of coarse, irregularly-shaped tan paper printed in black. Jerbiam in the title indicates that the poem is the work of John J. Phillips, Jr., who used the pseudonym J.J. Jerbiam in Vague, the magazine that …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 72—More about Vague

Among the many items in the 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection at the Boston Public Library is a single undated sheet headed “MAXIMS and AXIOMS.” It is signed on the reverse by Hermann Püterschein (the alter ego of W.A. Dwiggins) and there is a pencil note that says “Page from the Notebook of a Modernist.” [1] The text suggests that the sheet is related to Vague no. 7, the satirical magazine that Dwiggins (in the guise of Püterschein), John J. Phillips, Jr., and …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 69—Vague

Vague no. 7 (1915) is probably the strangest project that W.A. Dwiggins ever worked on. It is a hilarious satire of the avant-garde art and literature of its time with a few jabs at advertising along the way. But, true to its name, it is not easy to recognize all of its allusions or to understand all of its jokes.
Vague no. 7 front with belly-band (1915). Design by W.A. Dwiggins.
Vague was published in the spring of 1915 by J.J. …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 21 Cornelia Hoff addendum

At the end of Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 21 I included a short note about Cornelia Hoff. Since I published that post Alex Jay, who operates The Tenth Letter of the Alphabet blog, has sent me more information about Hoff which he plans to publish on January 8, 2018. What follows is a summary of what he has learned.
Cornelia Josephine Hoff was born on June 22, 1903 in Concord, Massachusetts to Anton J. and Pauline Hoff, …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 22—Strathmore Expressive Printing Papers

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  curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition ran from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Strathmore expressive printing papers portfolio cover (Strathmore Paper Co., 1950). Design by Lester Beall. Photograph by Vincent Giordano.
Famous Designer Series
In 1950 the Strathmore Expressive Papers for …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 21—The Postwar Era

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 curated at The Opalka Gallery of The Sage Colleges in Albany, New York. The exhibition ran from October 3 to December 15, 2017.
Strathmore Expressive Letterhead Papers portfolio cover (Strathmore Paper Co., 1949). Design by Charles Capon. Photograph by Vincent Giordano.
Horace Moses, the founder of the Mittineague Paper Company (the predecessor …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 20—World War 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.
Expressive Wartime Printing mailer opened up (Strathmore Paper Co., 1943). Designer unknown. Photograph by Vincent Giordano.
American paper companies experienced difficulties obtaining paper pulp even before the …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 19—The Thistle in the 1920s and 1930s

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.
“Oriental Rugs from Strathmore Department Store” insert from New Ideas for Distinguished Advertising from Strathmore Town portfolio (Strathmore Paper Co., c.1927). Illustration signed W.C. (Walter Cole?). …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 18—Bert Chambers Joins Strathmore

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.
Saxon Japan swatch book (Strathmore Paper Co., 1932). Illustration by Catherine Mellen (pseud. Alexander King). Photograph by Vincent Giordano.
The paper industry boom of the 1920s continued …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 81—Addendum to Two Parodies of Bruce Rogers’ Printer’s Device

My blog post The Definitive Dwiggins no. 70—Two Parodies of Bruce Rogers’ Printer’s Device needs to be amended. When I wrote it I was looking for background information on the history of Bruce Rogers’ device with Father Time hacking at a thistle. I was unable to find an answer online as to its origins and so ordered a used copy of B.R. Marks & Remarks (New York: The Typophiles, 1946) in the hope that it might provide an answer. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 77—The Unitarian Laymen’s League

The Unitarian Laymen’s League was established on April 11, 1919 to provide fellowship to men and support Unitarianism. Within a year the League’s publications began to sport a seal by W.A. Dwiggins. [1] He had been hired by a former client, the Rev. Charles E. Park (1873–1962), minister at First Church in Boston and one of the leading figures in the new organization. The connection between the two men went back fifteen years to Dwiggins’ arrival in Hingham, Massachusetts.
In …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 75—Eternal Rome

In 1918 Carl Purington Rollins (1880–1960) sold the equipment of his Montague Press to Yale University and became the manager of the manufacturing department of the Yale University Press and the university’s printing office. Two years later he was appointed Printer to Yale University, a position he held until 1948. [1] Rollins was responsible for overseeing the production of all of the printed ephemera (e.g. invitations to events, bookplates for the library, diplomas, etc.) that the university needed.
From the very …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 70—Two Parodies of Bruce Rogers’ Printer’s Device

Parody of Bruce Rogers device by W.A. Dwiggins. From Barnacles from Many Bottoms Scraped and Gathered for B.R. edited by Paul Bennett (New York: The Typophiles, 1935).
For Barnacles from Many Bottoms Scraped and Gathered for BR (New York: The Typophiles, 1935), a festschrift in honor of the 65th birthday of Bruce Rogers (1870–1957), W.A. Dwiggins contributed a four-page signature with the drawing above and the following explanation:
IL TEMPO PASSA—H.P. [Hermann Püterschein] reports: “A singular change has taken place in the …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 15—Strathmore Artists’ Series (1923)

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.
4 Men & Strathmore envelope (1923). Design by Oswald Cooper. Photograph by Annie Schlechter.
The third (and last) of the Strathmore Artists’ Series was mailed out in …
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