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. 52—Paulus Franck

Schatzkammer, Allerhand Versalien Lateinisch  vnnd Teutsch allen Cantzleyen Schreibstuben Notarien vnd denen so sich des zierlichen schreibens  befleissigen zudienst  und Wohlgefallen von neüen in Druckh also verferttiget  is the longwinded title of the 1601 writing manual by Paulus Franck of Nuremberg. The book is best known for Franck’s astoundingly intricate set of large fraktur initials (see below). [1]
Ornamental fraktur F by Paulus Franck (1601).
But my interest in Franck’s manual is not in the decorative fraktur capitals, but in …
Continue reading

Typophillics No. 1 update and addendum

The mystery of the origins of Frederic W. Goudy’s comment on letterspacing type has gotten a little bit murkier.
This morning I received an email from Renata Vickrey, university archivist and special collections librarian at the Elihu Burritt Library at Central Connecticut State University, home to the only known copy of Dinner in Honor of Mr. Frederic W. Goudy by the New York Press Association and Syracuse University held in Syracuse 1936. She tells me that the 6 page booklet includes …
Continue reading

Typophillics no. 1

Card from Arthur Rushmore to members of The Typophiles 28 May 1938. (Paul Standard Papers, Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Library, Rochester Institute of Technology)
Erik Spiekermann and E.M. Ginger, authors of Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works (Mountain View, California: Adobe Press, 1993), explain the title of their book thusly:
In 1936, Frederic Goudy was in New York City to receive an award for excellence in type design. Upon accepting a certificate, he took one look at it and …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 49—Political Satire in 1896

Richard Sheaff, the inveterate ephemera collector, has a small section on his Sheaff: Ephemera website devoted to Salt River ephemera, most of it from the collection of Ron Schieber. He says that the phrase “Up Salt River” was used in the 19th century to refer to political defeat. Going up Salt River meant the wrong way on a tributary to an isolated and irrelevant headwaters. The expression apparently originated in the 1832 election in which Henry Clay was …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 48—Eugene Field

Eugene Field. From Field Flowers: A Small Bunch of the Most Fragrant of Blossoms Gathered from the Broad Acres of Eugene Field’s Farm of Love (Chicago: The Monument Committee, 1896).
Eugene Field (1850–1895) was one of the leading literary figures of the late 19th century in America. He was known for his bibliophilic writings as well as for his verse for children. From 1881 until his death he was a columnist for the Chicago Daily News which morphed into the …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 47—Cambridge, Ohio

Although W.A. Dwiggins was neither born there nor spent the most years of his childhood there, the town most closely associated with his early life is Cambridge, Ohio. [1] Cambridge is located due south of Cleveland and due east of Columbus in rolling hill country. It is the seat of Guernsey County. In the 1890s, when Dwiggins lived there, two railroad lines (the Baltimore & Ohio and the Cleveland & Marietta) ran through town, testifying to its importance. …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 44—A Short Note on Notes

“Proper Prefaces” from Ordinary and Canon of the Mass… (New York: H.W. Gray Co., 1913). Printed by The Merrymount Press. Musical notation by W.A. Dwiggins.
Ordinary and Canon of the Mass: Together with the Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion and the Holy Chant by Rev. Maurice W. Britton and Charles Winfred Douglas (New York: H.W. Gray Co., 1913), despite being a slim book of 76 pages, took three years to complete. The book was …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 46—Addendum on Maynard Co.

My friend Alex Jay (of the excellent website The Tenth Letter) sent me some microfilm images of Maynard advertisements by W.A. Dwiggins in the The Boston Herald that he got from a newspaper archive called Genealogy Bank. They do seem less scratchy and shadowy. But what is most important is that they are whole pages that provide a good indication of the environment in which the Dwiggins’ Maynard advertisements operated.
Below is the same “Pearl Necklaces” advertisement on back-to-back days in …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 45—More on Metro

Three years ago, for the Typographica annual review of the year’s typefaces, I chose to write about the Metro Nova typeface family designed by Toshi Omagari for Monotype. But instead of the usual 300 word review I wrote an extended essay on origins of Metro, explaining how Metro no. 2—which most people think of as Metro—came about and indicating how little of Metro was actually designed by W.A. Dwiggins. Stephen Coles, creator of Typographica, liked the deep background but since …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 43—Maynard and Microfilm

One problem in researching the career of W.A. Dwiggins is identifying and locating the advertising work he did from 1905 to the end of the 1920s when he shifted his focus to book design and type design. The space advertising work—as opposed to the direct advertising work—is especially difficult. [1] Much, if not all, of it was done for inclusion in the numerous Boston newspapers, either via advertising agencies such as the Cowen Company or directly for clients. [2] Copies of …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 42—The Annual of Bookmaking

The Annual of Bookmaking (New York: The Colophon, 1938). Binding design by W.a. Dwiggins.
W.A. Dwiggins was at the zenith of his career in 1938. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) had held an exhibition of his work in November 1937, the first time that a living designer had been so honored. Over the course of the previous ten years Dwiggins had completed two typefaces (Metro and Electra) for Mergenthaler Linotype and was in the process of finishing up …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 15 Addendum—W.A. Dwiggins, Harry L. Gage and Lucian Bernhard on Modernism

As Dwiggins was writing Layout in Advertising the debate over modernist design in the United States was heating up. It was sparked not by the Bauhaus in Germany or the emergence of die neue typographie there and in Eastern Europe, but by the Exposition International des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels held in Paris from April 28 to November 30, 1925. The exposition has given us the phrase Art Deco. [1] But at the time the graphic art associated with …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 15—The Origins of Metro

With the release of Metro Nova by Toshi Omagari in 2013, there has been renewed interest in Metro by W.A. Dwiggins. And with that renewed interest has come misinformation.
Fonts.com has a brief history of Metro’s origins that manages to garble the facts, most of which are well-known. Here is their text:
One day in the late 1920s, C. H. Griffiths, who was responsible for typographic development at Mergenthaler Linotype at the time, read a magazine article bemoaning the lack …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 41—A Christmas card for Mrs. Foster

In several previous posts (nos. 3, 13, 25, 34 and 37) I have explored the sources that W.A. Dwiggins relied upon for his illustrations. In his work for The Merrymount Press these sources were often provided to him by his client, Daniel Berkeley Updike. A rare instance of Dwiggins discovering an historical source on his own for an illustration for a Merrymount Press job is the portrait of a Madonna and Child that graces the exterior of a 1908 Christmas …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins No. 40—The Noble Order of the Golden Louse

For ten years I have been poring over W.A. Dwiggins’ surviving account books in an attempt to identify and locate the thousands of ephemeral design jobs he worked on between 1907 and the end of the 1920s.  Although much of the work is mundane and some of it trivial, all of it is fascinating since it tells us a lot about the nature of his career and of the state of American graphic design in these formative years.
One entry (of many) …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 39—The Cambridge City Bakery

“The Staff of Life” advertisement for The Cambridge City Bakery. From Frederic Goudy by D.J.R. Bruckner (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publisher, 1990), p.48.
In his biography of Frederic W. Goudy, D.J.R. Bruckner shows the above image on p. 48 with the caption, “Advertisement for the [sic] Cambridge City Bakery designed by Goudy. This claim, for which Bruckner provides no documentation, has bothered me ever since the book was published. How did Goudy come to design the advertisement and when …
Continue reading