The Definitive Dwiggins no. 20—A Calendar of Happy Days

This post—originally written in 2015—was updated and corrected in 2021. See The Definitive Dwiggins no. 720.

Recently I was reorganizing my Dwiggins images and came across a folder labeled “The Printing Studio (WAD & TMC)” consisting of downloaded pages from an issue of The Inland Printer, one of which included a page from “A Calendar of Happy Days” signed WAD while another showed some lettering signed C (for Thomas Maitland Cleland). The Dwiggins work is a bit of a mystery.

A Calendar of Happy Days

“A Calendar of Happy Days”. Lettering and border design by W.A. Dwiggins (1909).

Left: “Labor is dignified…” Lettering by Thomas Maitland Cleland.

Left: “Labor is dignified…” Lettering by Thomas Maitland Cleland. Right: “If instead of a gem…” Lettering possibly by W.A. Dwiggins.

The same style of lettering used for “A Calendar of Happy Days” appears in a quotation that begins “If instead of a gem…” on the same page as the quotation lettered by Cleland, suggesting that it might be the work of Dwiggins as well. This lettering is reminiscent of George Auriol’s eponymous typeface Auriol (1901)—see particularly the v, w and y. If not for the presence of the WAD signature, I would have assumed the lettering to be the work of Oswald Cooper, Dwiggins’ former classmate at Frank Holme’s School for Illustration in Chicago. Cooper lettered the entire text of Evolution: A Poem by Langdon Smith (Boston and Chicago: W.A. Wilde Company, 1909) [1] in an extremely similar style. Were Dwiggins and Cooper—who were corresponding at this time—copying each other?

Evolution: A Poem by Langdon Smith

p. 3 (cropped) from Evolution: A Poem by Langdon Smith (Boston and Chicago: W.A. Wilde Company, 1909). Lettering by Oswald Cooper and illustrations by Fred Bertsch.

“A Calendar of Happy Days” appears in The Inland Printer (June 1912), vol. XLIX, no. 3, pp. 385–388 as part of  “Job Composition” by F.J. Tresize, a regular feature of the journal. Tresize profiled Bertram B. Udell (1877–1956), a printer on the edges of Chicago, showing him, his workplace and his work. The latter took up eight unnumbered pages. [2] None of the work is credited other than being from “The Printing Studio” and Tresize does not discuss it. Instead he focuses on Udell’s career from the age of thirteen, when he began working in his father’s newspaper office in Rantoul, Illinois as a printer’s devil for 50¢ an hour, to his establishment of The Printing Studio in Highland Park, Illinois. [3]

The Printing Studio of B.B. Udell. Photographs by

The Printing Studio of B.B. Udell. Photographs by Misses Ray and Heine. From The Inland Printer (June 1912) vol. XLIX, no. 3, p. 388.

Other than Tresize’s article, there is little to be found online about Udell (and nothing about the two women who took the photographs of his print shop).  “The tale of early Wilmette publisher B.B. Udell” by John Jacoby  of The Wilmette Beacon is extremely sketchy, saying nothing about The Printing Studio, though it does have a nice photograph of the printer/publisher.

The Library of Congress Copyright Office lists “Those Greetings of Udell’s” (12 pages) as copyrighted on October 25, 1909 but there are no entries for “A Calendar of Happy Days” (despite the claim that it was copyrighted). I suspect that the quotations shown in the Tresize article—there are others besides those lettered by Cleland and Dwiggins—are part of “Those Greetings of Udell’s”. I suspect that Udell got the idea for his greeting cards and calendars from seeing those being issued by Alfred Bartlett in Boston. That may also be where he discovered both Cleland and Dwiggins. [4] It is doubtful that Udell met Dwiggins in Chicago since the latter left the city in early 1903.

I would appreciate any further information about Udell’s greeting cards and calendars.

[1] The book has no copyright date. Although the HathiTrust digital edition dates it to 1911, it is clearly 1909 since The Inland Printer (November 1909), vol. XLIV, no. 2 reproduces two pages from it on pp. 211–212.
[2] The pages of samples appear between p. 384 and p. 385 where Tresize’s profile begins.
[3] At the time that Tresize wrote his article, The Printing Studio had moved to Wilmette, Illinois.
[4] Did Udell ever hire Cooper, who was local, to do lettering for his greeting cards?