Research

Research consists of unintended or accidental discoveries that I have made during the course of my research into other topics. They are posted here in the belief that others may find the information equally fascinating. Some items are meant to challenge or question existing scholarship on a specific topic. And others are intended to alert scholars to material that may be relevant to their own pursuits or to new opportunities of research.

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 …
Continue reading

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] …
Continue reading

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 …
Continue reading

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 …
Continue reading

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 …
Continue reading

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 …
Continue reading

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 …
Continue reading

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 …
Continue reading

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, …
Continue reading

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, …
Continue reading

More on the National Board on Printing Type Faces

Among the material in the George Macy Papers at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University are three documents from the National Board on Printing Type Faces.
The first document is a second edition of  “National Board on Printing Type Faces: Its Organization and Work” dated 1935. Although the Board had failed in 1930 in its original attempt to reign in the proliferation of new typefaces, it apparently did not dissolve but continued on with an altered mission. No …
Continue reading

“Stop Making Type”: The Quixiotic Quest of the National Board on Printing Type Faces

In 2007 I wrote an article for Print magazine (LXI:V) titled “Stop Making Type” about an organization called the National Board on Printing Type Faces and its doomed attempt in 1929/1930 to limit the number of new typefaces being produced. Since the article is not available on Imprint I am posting my original text and some images from the issue here. I am doing it because I have come across some additional material about the organization at the Newberry Library in …
Continue reading

Boycott Nazi Type


Proclamation to Craftsmen, Artisans and Friends of the Graphic Arts
Last year I came across a document entitled “Proclamation to Craftsmen, Artisans and Friends of the Graphic Arts” issued by the Graphic Arts Forum in 1939. It announces a boycott of Nazi types as part of the war effort by those in graphic design and publishing. Among the signatories—all from New York—are publishers Bennett Cerf (of Random House), B.W. Huebsch (of the Viking Press), Alfred A. Knopf, and George Macy (of …
Continue reading

Strathmore Papers and the Untold History of American Graphic Design

Recently Chris Harrold, Vice President of Business Development/Creative Director at Mohawk, invited me to up to the Albany/Troy area to see the Strathmore Archives that he has been digging into for the past few months. I was lured by the promise of seeing unknown work by W.A. Dwiggins and by the opportunity to do some preparation for my upcoming talk on “W.A. Dwiggins and the Promotion of Paper 1915–1935” at the Type Directors Club on June 3*.
For months both Dan Rhatigan …
Continue reading

A video of Michael Harvey

Stan Knight just told me about a video made a few years ago of Michael Harvey reminiscing about his life. It can be found at the Edward Johnston Foundation website. He is sitting in his compact studio—a photograph of Luminous Boy, the black and white cat he and Pat had in the 1980s is visible in the background—quietly talking about Reynolds Stone, Eric Gill, book jackets, type design, etc. with his characteristic candor, lack of pretension and low-key humor. …
Continue reading

Gilgengart: The tale of a typeface

Gilgengart Fraktur (often shortened to just Gilgengart) was the first typeface designed by Hermann Zapf. Its history is not only complicated but a bit muddy. This is because in the various books on his career, Zapf has given conflicting accounts of its origins and of the dates of each of its stages. Before trying to untangle the true story of Gilgengart, it should be noted that for all of his typefaces Zapf rightly makes a crucial distinction among the three phases …
Continue reading