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. 83—W.A. Dwiggins’ Ancestry, Part I: Zimri and Phoebe Dwiggins

Zimri Dwiggins (c.1886). Photograph by East End Studios, Stigleman & Son, Richmond, Indiana). Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.
W.A. Dwiggins’ paternal grandparents were Zimri and Phoebe Dwiggins. [1] Zimri was born July 20, 1827 in Wilmington, Ohio, the county seat of Clinton County, situated midway between Columbus and Cincinnati. [2] “As a young man,” recalled the Wilmington News-Journal, Zimri “taught school in winter and farmed in the summer, and as an older man he devoted himself to farming….” In 1859 he owned …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 80—The Society of Calligraphers

The first Society of Calligraphers was formed by Edward Johnston (1872–1944), Eric Gill (1882–1940), Percy Smith (1882–1948), and others in 1907, but by 1910 it had dissolved—possibly due to accusations by Johnston of plagiarism regarding Smith’s portfolio Lettering and Writing (London: B.T. Batsford, 1908). Eventually it was replaced by the London-based Society of Scribes and Illuminators in 1921. Between then and the early 1970s a handful of other groups devoted to the propagation of calligraphy were established: in 1935 the short-lived Cursive Group in …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 26—The Creative Doldrums (1974–1985)

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 Artlaid II watch book (Strathmore Paper Co., 1980). Designer unknown. Photograph by Vincent Giordano.
“The Sixties” came to an end with the resignation of President Richard Nixon …
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Paper Is Part of the Picture no. 25—The 1960s (Part II: Swiss 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.
the gestalt assault cover (Strathmore Paper Co., 1970). Design by Ken Kuenster. Photograph by Ariel Smullen.
From the early 1960s to the early 1970s Strathmore’s promotional mailings reflected the …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 56—”New Kind of Printing Needs New Design”

Front page of the Graphic Arts Section, Part Three of the Boston Evening Transcript (August 29, 1922). Design by George Trenholm.
W.A. Dwiggins has held an anomalous position within design history. His varied work as an advertising designer, book designer, and type designer is often praised but rarely shown in design history surveys. Instead, he is included principally as the coiner of the phrase “graphic design.” It is an assertion that I debunked several years ago, though it still persists. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 81—Who Coined the Term “Graphic Design”?

Three and a half years ago I wrote two posts about the origins of the term “graphic design” that debunked the commonly held view that W.A. Dwiggins deserved credit for it: “Graphic Design:” A brief terminological history (June 4, 2014) and  “Graphic Design:” more on the terminology of a profession (June 8, 2014). In them I traced the first use of the term to the California School of Arts and Crafts in 1921, one year before Dwiggins used …
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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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