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 to learn more about the nascent period of graphic design, before the term even existed. In flipping through it, the page with “trade-marks” leapt out at me because I immediately recognized the marks for The Graphic Arts and Ginn and Company. Once my eye saw the mark for Charles Fulton Whitmarsh I knew I had to buy the book.

Personal mark. From 22 Printers’ Marks and Seals

“Personal mark”. Detail from 22 Printers’ Marks and Seals Designed or Redrawn by W.A. Dwiggins (New York: William Edwin Rudge, 1929)

I had seen the same mark before—in red— in 22 Printers’ Marks and Seals Designed or Redrawn (New York: William Edwin Rudge, 1929) where it was blandly labeled “Personal mark.” Now I had an explanation as to who CFW was: Charles Fulton Whitmarsh, who I had already come across several times during my Dwiggins research as C.F. Whitmarsh.

C.F. Whitmarsh. Photograph by Charles E. Davis. Date unknown, but probably between 1910 and 1914.

C.F. Whitmarsh. Photograph by Charles H. Davis. Date unknown, but probably between 1910 and 1914. Note the copy of The Printing Art in his hands. From The Printing Art, vol. XXXVI, no. 3 (November 1920), p. 241.

Charles Fulton Whitmarsh (1858–1920) was the son of a Chicago proofreader. From childhood until his death he spent his entire career in the printing world. His first job was as a proofreader at age eighteen for printer and publisher Rand, McNally & Co. in Chicago. He eventually became the head of the company’s proofreading department. In 1888, he left Rand, McNally & Co. to work for The Henry O. Shepard Company and its subsidiary The Inland Printer Company, publishers of The Inland Printer. For fifteen years Whitmarsh was secretary of both companies and associate editor of the trade journal, responsible for editorial and advertising work. He resigned from The Inland Printer Company in 1903 in order to “avail himself of an opportunity to enter upon an independent business in advertising and the preparation of business literature, in which his long and intimate knowledge of all departments of the printing arts could be used in building up and establishing a profitable clientage.” [1]

Apparently, Whitmarsh’s attempt to be an independent consultant in the printing trade was short lived since he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts within a month or so to join The University Press, which traced its heritage back to 1639 and the founding of the first press in North America by Stephen Daye. [2] There he became the advertising manager of its new trade journal, The Printing Art (billed as the “fashion-plate of printerdom”) which was inaugurated in  March 1903. He remained with the journal, eventually with the title of business manager, until his death in 1920. [3]

Whitmarsh, both in Chicago and in Cambridge, crossed paths with Dwiggins on several occasions. They may have first met as early as November 1899, the month when Dwiggins enrolled in The Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago. Whitmarsh, through The Inland Printer, had chronicled the school from its birth in the summer of 1898 to the celebration accompanying the completion of its first catalogue on 11 November 1899. [4] In 1901 he and Frederic W. Goudy (1865–1947), then teaching lettering and ornament at The Frank Holme School (with both Dwiggins and Oswald Cooper as students), published a magazine called American Cat News.

If Whitmarsh had not already met Dwiggins at The Frank Holme School as a student, he certainly knew him as an associate of Goudy in the summer of 1901. Goudy and Dwiggins collaborated on the cover design of the Pan-American Number of The Inland Printer (July 1901) with the older man contributing the lettering and an ornamental vine border in the Kelmscott manner and his former pupil responsible for the central illustrate of a Medieval monk writing at a desk. Inside the issue, there appeared the earliest notice of Dwiggins as a professional: “Mr. Dwiggins has but recently entered the field, and his work is as yet but little known. He has the enthusiasm of youth (he is barely twenty-one) [sic] and the desire to accomplish something worthwhile. There is no doubt but that he will be heard from. He has decorative feeling, especially in the line of illustration, always realizing the technical limitations of his art, and he makes his work thoroughly in harmony with the printed page which it is to accompany.” [6] The unsigned notice was most likely written by Whitmarsh.

Cover of the Pan-American Issue of The Inland Printer (July 1901) designed jointly by Frederic W. Goudy and W.A. Dwiggins.

Cover of the Pan-American Issue of The Inland Printer (July 1901) designed jointly by Frederic W. Goudy and W.A. Dwiggins. Goudy’s signature G is in the vinework at the left while Dwiggins’ WAD is to the right of the monk’s profile.

Both Dwiggins and Whitmarsh met up again in metropolitan Boston via The Printing Art, its 1912 spinoff The Printing Art Suggestion Book, and possibly the Society of Printers. During Whitmarsh’s tenure at The Printing Art, the journal not only showcased Dwiggins’ work on numerous occasions, but its editor Henry Lewis Johnson (1867–1937) often commissioned jobs from the young designer. [7] Did Johnson discover Dwiggins on his own or through Whitmarsh?

Johnson was a founding member of both the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston (established 1897) and The Society of Printers (established 1905), but Dwiggins was not yet a member of either organization when Johnson asked him in October 1905 to design a bookplate for his wife Mabel Wood Johnson. [8] This is also before Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860–1941), another founder of The Society of Printers, had begun to work with Dwiggins. Thus, it is likely that Whitmarsh was the one who told Johnson about WAD.

Johnson left The Printing Art at the end of 1910 to establish a new journal called The Graphic Arts which also showcased Dwiggins’ work on a frequent basis. [9] He left that journal in 1916 and set up shop as  some kind of an advertising consultant. In that capacity he hired Dwiggins for several jobs in the following years, including work for S.D. Warren, the paper company that would become a major WAD client in the 1920s and early 1930s.

While there are a substantial number of entries in Dwiggins’ account books referring to Johnson, there are only two for Whitmarsh: a request for a drawing for a Christmas card for Willis Boughton in December 1915 and a request for a “device” in May 1918. The Boughton card, showing three musicians, was reproduced in The Printing Art. [10] Dwiggins turned down the commission for a “device” on the grounds that he had “no time”, though this occurred a few months before he became the Acting Director of the Harvard University Press. There is no entry for a “personal mark” such as the one shown in 22 Printers’ Marks and in Applied Art by Pedro J. Lemos—unless Dwiggins changed his mind in 1918. However, the design, based on the lettering, looks as if it was done c.1910–1911. The image appears to be a pun on Whitmarsh’s name, an idea that Dwiggins returned to years later for an ex libris he designed for Samuel H. Marsh.

Christmas card for Willis A. Boughton (1915). Design, lettering and illustration by W.A. Dwiggins.

Christmas card for Willis A. Boughton (1915). Design, lettering and illustration by W.A. Dwiggins.

Whitmarsh was clearly more than just a client to Dwiggins. In 1916 Dwiggins sent him a copy of The Fabulist no. 2 and Whitmarsh is present (back row, 2nd from right) in the famous  illustration that he drew in 1917 for the Catalogue Clinic hosted by The Society of Printers. Charles Fulton Whitmarsh is one of the threads that ties together Dwiggins’ pre-1920 design career, from a student at The Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago in the late 1890s through his stint as Acting Director of the Harvard University Press at the end of World War I.

[1] Whitmarsh’s resignation was announced in The Inland Printer vol. 30, no. 5 (February 1903), p. 736.
[2] See A History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630–1913 by Samuel Atkins Eliot (Cambridge, Massachusetts:  The Cambridge Tribune, 1913), p. 121 and Stephen Daye and His Successors, 1639–1921 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The University Press, 1921).
[3] All of the general information about Whitmarsh’s life is derived from obituaries in The Inland Printer vol. 66, no. 2 (November 1920), p. 218 and The Printing Art vol. XXXVI, no. 3 (November 1920), p. 248. He is listed as the author of Standard Trade Terms Used by Photoengravers (1913), a book I have been unable to track down.
[4] “Dinner to Der Professorverein” in  The Inland Printer vol. 24, no. 2 (November 1899), p. 439.
[5] See The American Printer vol. 31, no. 5 (January 1901), p. 369 for a notice of this venture by Whitmarsh & Goudy.
[6] The Inland Printer vol. 27, no. 4, p. 597.
[7] Two instances of The Printing Art showcasing Dwiggins’ designs between 1908 and 1916 are The Printing Art, vol. XXII, no. 1 (March 1909), p. 382 which reproduced two newspaper advertisements he had created for businesses in his hometown of Cambridge, Ohio and “Ex Libris Designs” in The Printing Art, vol. XXIV, no. 1 (September 1914), pp. 41–48 which included bookplates WAD had designed for Laurance B. Siegfried and the Hingham Public Library. “Pleasures by the Way” in The Printing Art, vol. XXIV, no. 5, (January 1910), p. 345 for which Dwiggins designed an initial letter and border is an example of the work commissioned by Johnson.
[8] Dwiggins joined the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston in 1906 as a Craftsman Member. Contrary to some assertions, he was not a founding member of The Society of Printers. He was invited to join in November 1908 by Updike.
[9] Because of the connection with Johnson it is possible that the mark for The Graphic Arts shown in The Definitive Dwiggins no. 3 post was drawn by Dwiggins. But the only relevant entry in Dwiggins’ account books is for an “imprint” commissioned in October 1916.
[10] Willis A. Boughton, a professor in the Chemical Laboratory at Harvard College, wrote poetry on the side. He was an investor in The Poetry Journal, whose offices were located at 67 Cornhill, next door to 69 Cornhill, the address that Dwiggins occupied from 1910 to 1915.

Memento of a Catalogue Clinic

“Memento of a Catalogue Clinic held by The Society of Printers at the Boston City Club, February 20, 1917”. Keepsake from The Society of Printers reprinted in The Printing Art, vol. XXX, no. 4 as part of “Souvenirs of The Society of Printers, Boston, Mass.” pp. 241–248. Drawing by H. Püterschein [W.A. Dwiggins]. C. F. Whitmarsh is in the back row, second from right; Henry Lewis Johnson is in the back row, third from left; and Dwiggins himself is in the foreground, right. The entire drawing is a reference to “The Agnew Clinic” (1889) by Thomas Eakins.