The Definitive Dwiggins no. 70—Two Parodies of Bruce Rogers’ Printer’s Device
For Barnacles from Many Bottoms Scraped and Gathered for BR (New York: The Typophiles, 1935), a festschrift in honor of the 65th birthday of Bruce Rogers (1870–1957), W.A. Dwiggins contributed a four-page signature with the drawing above and the following explanation:
IL TEMPO PASSA—H.P. [Hermann Püterschein] reports: “A singular change has taken place in the printer’s device in one of my treasured B.R. volumes. It cannot possibly have been that way originally or I should have noticed it… The book was in one of the zinc library-cases during my late visit to Murano Massasi at Kibombo. It was handled occasionally, but neither I nor other people that looked at it paid particular attention to the mark… Whether it was the climate or some kind of juju, I don’t know… I enclose the page, can you suggest any explanation? I take the ‘passavit’ clause to be slang: something like ‘Time passed out’ or ‘all in’ or something of that sort. The ‘lacessit’ sentence is obvious, of course…”—W.A.D. 
His drawing is a parody of one of the many printer’s devices that Bruce Rogers (known to everyone at the time as B.R.) used in the books he designed. The one in question shows Father Time with a scythe cutting down a thistle. A ribbon with the motto Il tempo passa (time passes) is draped around him. In Dwiggins’ rendition Father Time has been defeated by the thistle. The motto has been changed to the dog Latin Impunite lacessit nemo me il tempus passavit that H.P. (Hermann Püterschein, Dwiggins’ alter ego) struggles to translate.  It is actually a mangled version of Nemo me impune lacessit, the motto of the Royal Stuart dynasty of Scotland, which is translated either as No one “cuts” (attacks/assails) me with impunity or as No one can harm me unpunished.  In Dwiggins’ rendering the thistle (Rogers) has gotten the better of Father Time. Even at the age of 65, Rogers was still going strong as a book designer. That year The Oxford Lectern Bible, considered by some to be his magnum opus, was finally completed. 
Its publication was celebrated in the Anglo-American book world. A unique copy, bound in pigskin, was displayed at the Library of Congress in October 1935. It was surely a major topic of conversation among those present at The Typophiles dinner in November in celebration of Rogers’ 65th birthday, the event that prompted the creation of Barnacles from Many Bottoms. Even though Dwiggins’ aversion to traveling kept him from attending the dinner, he was aware of the hoopla surrounding Rogers’ monumental achievement, and used this sly parody of Rogers’ printer’s device to pay tribute to him.
However, Dwiggins’ contribution to Barnacles from Many Bottoms Scraped and Gathered for B.R. was not the first time that he had poked fun at Rogers’ printer’s mark. In 1916 he sent a parody of it (see below) to Rogers.  Once again the thistle has bested Father Time. The thistle smiles triumphantly as Father Time, whose scythe lies broken on the ground, reaches for an axe to make another attack. There is no Latin motto, only Father Time’s frustrated, “Damthat Thistle” exclamation on the ribbon below.
But what does “Salooch” mean? It is not an English word. Possibly Dwiggins derived it from the Scottish “slooch” (meaning “to slouch or cower”; or referring to an idle worker). The latter definition would turn the drawing into a backhanded acknowledgement of Rogers’ propensity for hard work. Under this theory Rogers is the thistle who is able to thwart Father Time.
There is no surviving letter to go with the “Salooch” drawing to provide an explanation of what prompted Dwiggins to send it to Rogers. However, I believe his action was sparked by the publication in late 1915 of “Eleven Examples of Recent Typography by Bruce Rogers from Books and Pamphlets Printed for Him at Various Presses” in The Printing Art.  The portfolio title was set in Centaur and included several items that used the typeface, including a page from The Centaur by Maurice de Guérin, the book the typeface was named after. This was the first showing of Rogers’ typeface to a broad audience. It was his first major work since his departure from the Riverside Press in 1911, and thus a new landmark in his already storied career. 
More significantly, The Printing Art portfolio reproduced a version of Rogers’ printer’s device with Father Time as an element and the motto Il tempo passa (see above) that had recently been used on the title page of The Centaur (1915). Given the limited number of quantities of the de Guérin book that were printed, this may have been the first time that Dwiggins had seen that particular mark.  As with the 1935 drawing, Dwiggins seemed to be playfully congratulating Rogers on his continued creative fecundity.
The Relationship between Bruce Rogers and W.A. Dwiggins
Both of Dwiggins’ parodies were affectionate tributes to Rogers. But the two men were not close. Rogers was ten years Dwiggins’ senior and, through his work at The Riverside Press, had already established himself as the pre-eminent American book designer by the time Dwiggins moved from the Midwest to the Boston area in 1904. Over the next quarter-century Rogers’ stature as a book designer continued to grow, in England as well as the United States, while Dwiggins toiled in the field of commercial art. During those years the two men worked together on three projects: two books, The Goddess of Reason by Mary Johnston (Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1907) and Modern Color by Carl Gordon Cutler and Stephen C. Pepper (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1923), and a wedding certificate for librarian George Parker Winship (1871–1952) in 1912.  This was the backdrop when Dwiggins created his first parody of the BR mark.
By the time Dwiggins designed his second BR parody, the situation was different. Dwiggins had thrown over the world of commercial art and had become established as both a book designer and a type designer. Although Rogers was still the towering figure in the world of book design, there was a significant difference between the work the two men did. Rogers’ book designs continued to be largely in the fine printing mode—books designed for collectors and bibliophiles—while Dwiggins was increasingly focused on designing trade books. I think that Dwiggins still had respect for Rogers in 1935, but it was not as deep as it had been two decades earlier.
Even though he disavowed it, Rogers’ book designs continued to be allusive, marked by the use of historical borders, ornaments and typefaces to suggest the period in which the text had been written. Other than an increased mastery of typography and layout, they looked as if they could have been produced before World War I. In contrast, the book designs that Dwiggins was creating, both for the fine printing market and for Alfred A. Knopf, his principal trade book client, were livelier and more varied.* Where once Dwiggins was concerned with designing a type page that would “pass muster with Rogers, Updike & Co.,” he was now confident of his own path. 
Apparently Rogers loved Dwiggins’ second parody of his mark. Two years later, Paul A. Bennett (1897–1966), editor of Barnacles from Many Bottoms Scraped and Gathered for BR, told Dwiggins that “B.R. is so fond of that little thistle-mark you drew for Barnacles.”  The two men worked together one final time at the end of the 1930s when Dwiggins contributed illustrations to The Taming of the Shrew, volume 30 of The Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies of William Shakespeare (New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1939/1940) designed by Rogers.
1. From Barnacles from Many Bottoms Scraped and Gathered for BR edited by Paul Bennett (New York: The Typophiles, 1935). The 4-page signature is set in Electra; and printed on Worthy Hand and Arrows paper. The is printer not identified, but it was probably Gehman Taylor (b. 1884) of The Abbey Press, Gordon-Taylor, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1931 on he was Dwiggins’ favorite printer for non-Knopf projects.
2. Dwiggins invented Hermann Püterschein as his alter ego in 1913. For the background see “Genus Püterschein” by Jacob Püterschein (the alter ego of Laurance B. Siegfried) in The Fabulist no. 1 (1915). Murano Massassi was another of his invented personalities. In 1936 he changed the spelling to Mwano Masassi (and his residence from Kibombo in the Congo to Entebbe, Uganda) and presented him as the designer of an edition of The Treasure in the Forest by H.G. Wells then in progress for Melbert Cary, Jr. and The Press of the Woolly Whale. See the prospectus for the book, entitled “Announcing a Typographic Divertissement by Mwano Masassi: The Treasure in the Forest by H.G. Wells” (1 July 1936), and the correspondence between the two men. “Honoured Sir: Permit me that I insist that the design of The Treasure in the Forest is my work. In your last letter you do not understand. I instructed Mr. Dwiggins what kind of pictures he must make to complete my design, and he has understood very nicely and has made very handsome pictures so far as he was able….” Masassi to Cary 7 November 1936 in Box 2, Series 1, Carl Rollington Papers AOB 9, Special Collections, Yale University Arts Library, Yale University.
3. From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemo_me_impune_lacessit.
4. The Bible was commissioned in 1929 and printed in 1935. For more on the Oxford Lectern Bible see An Account of the Making of the Oxford Lectern Bible (Philadelphia: Lanston Monotype, 1936) or Bruce Rogers: A Life in Letters 1870–1957 by Joseph Blumenthal (Austin, Texas: W. Thomas Taylor, 1989), pp. 152–159.
5. The “Salooch” drawing is in Folder 15, Box 73, Bruce Rogers / Pforzheimer Collection, Library of Congress Special Collections.
6. “Eleven Examples of Recent Typography by Bruce Rogers from Books and Pamphlets Printed for Him at Various Presses” in The Printing Art vol. XXVI, no. 4 (December 1915), pp. 289–296.
7. For more on Rogers’ activities between 1911 and 1916 see Bruce Rogers: A Life in Letters 1870–1957, pp. 27–37. And for the full history of Centaur see The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers by Jerry Kelly and Misha Beletsky (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 2016).
8. There is a variant of this particular Bruce Rogers’ printer’s device that may precede the one used for The Centaur. It has Father Time on the left, the motto ribbon wrapped around his scythe, and a ribbon with BRUCE ROGERS to the right of the thistle; all enclosed within a circle. It is shown in The Work of Bruce Rogers, Jack of All Trades, Master of One: A Catalogue of an Exhibition Arranged by AIGA and the Grolier Club (New York: Oxford University Press, 1939) as item No. 586, but is not dated. Bruce Rogers: A Life in Letters 1870-1957, plate 57 does not include either version among its sampling of Rogers’ marks. “Notes on Bruce Rogers of Indiana” by William M. Hepburn in The Indiana Quarterly for Bookmen (July 1945), p. 7 says this of the mark:
A more recent favorite [device] is a design showing Father Time, represented as a satyr, with his scythe, in the act of nicking the stalk of a tall thistle with the legend IL TEMPO PASSA on an entwining ribbon. The motto was taken from a family coat of arms and the design itself was originally intended as the decoration for the back of a watch.
9. Rogers commissioned Dwiggins to design the border for the title page and the headpieces and tailpieces for The Goddess of Reason. According to Dwiggins’ account books the headpieces and tailpieces were rejected by Rogers, but surviving artwork for two of the former indicate that not all were rejected. I think that all of the headpieces in the book were done by Dwiggins, but that Rogers himself did the tailpieces. See Folder 2, Box 81(1) and Folder 26, Box 41 in the 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. What Dwiggins did for the Winship wedding certificate is unknown as it has not been located. I suspect that he lettered the text.
10. W.A. Dwiggins to Thomas B. Wells (of Harper’s Magazine), 19 February 1925. In Folder 42, Box 12, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
11. Paul A. Bennett to W.A. Dwiggins 15 January 1937 in Folder 283, Box 13, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
*To show how different the book designs of Bruce Rogers and W.A. Dwiggins were I have reproduced two title pages by them (both from 1933) below. A fuller comparison of their book designs will be the subject of a future post.