The Definitive Dwiggins no. 75—Eternal Rome
In 1918 Carl Purington Rollins (1880–1960) sold the equipment of his Montague Press to Yale University and became the manager of the manufacturing department of the Yale University Press and the university’s printing office. Two years later he was appointed Printer to Yale University, a position he held until 1948.  Rollins was responsible for overseeing the production of all of the printed ephemera (e.g. invitations to events, bookplates for the library, diplomas, etc.) that the university needed.
From the very beginning of his tenure, Rollins turned to his friend W.A. Dwiggins for design assistance. For roughly a decade, Dwiggins contributed illustrations, lettering and designs to more than 60 projects initiated by Rollins (a few of which were for non-Yale clients).  Among them were several books, including the two-volume Eternal Rome: The City and Its People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day by Grant Showerman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924).
For Eternal Rome Dwiggins provided a border and illustrations for the title pages, which were reused on the jackets.  The typography of the title pages was executed by Rollins who used a mix of Hadriano by Frederic W. Goudy and Scotch Roman (the typeface the text was set in). The illustration on the first volume is of fragments of the Acqua Claudia and the illustration on the second is of the Lateran Cloisters, representing respectively pagan Rome and Christian Rome. Although Dwiggins had visited Rome in 1908, the drawings are probably based on photographs not his memory. 
The focus of this post is not the illustrations, however, but the border. It is a revision of one used on the title page of Caesaris Contardi Genven, Advocati Curiae Romanae (Rome: Iosephum de Angelis, 1573). Dwiggins found it in Historic Design in Printing by Henry Lewis Johnson (Boston: The Graphic Arts Company, 1923) as item Group II, No. 9, p. 39.  Dwiggins’ reuse of the de Angelis border is exactly what Johnson, the founder of The Printing Art and The Graphic Arts magazines, intended. After all, his book is subtitled Reproductions of Book Covers, Borders, Initials, Decorations, Printers’ Marks and Devices Comprising Reference Material for the Designer, Printer, Advertiser and Publisher. On the copyright page of his book, Johnson states:
This copyright relates to the text, compilation and grouping of this work but does not in any way restrict the adaptation of motives and individual designs. These are the heritage to all craftsmen, from previous generations most rich in accomplishment.
Note that Johnson uses the term “adaptation” since that is exactly what Dwiggins did. His border is not a straight steal of the de Angelis border but a new design based on it. Dwiggins has kept the structure of its vines, but redrawn many of the flowers and leaves. In doing so he has refined the flow of its curves and, more importantly, created a better balance of its negative spaces. He has also altered the bottom portion to incorporate the Yale University shield and motto. That change makes for a more satisfying overall shape to the border. Overall, Dwiggins’ redrawing is a significant improvement over the original.
It should be noted that Dwiggins’ illustration occupies essentially the same position and dimensions of the illustration on the Caesaris Contardi Genven page. Yet, Rollins made no attempt to mimic the de Angelis typography. Instead, his layout perfectly balances Dwiggins’ illustration. The title pages for Eternal Rome are a little known part of Dwiggins’ book design oeuvre, but they are as delightful as anything he did for Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
1.Carl Purington Rollins to Edmund G. Gress 19 December 1923 in Box 1, Edmund G. Gress Papers, New York Public Library; also see “Carl Rollins at Montague, 1903–1918” by Margaret Rollins (Columbiad Club talk, 10 December 1963), p. 16 who says that the Yale position was arranged by Henry Watson Kent and Judge John M. Woolsey. Rollins’ salary was $1800 per year.
2. See “Carl Purington Rollins and William Addison Dwiggins” by Gay Walker in The Yale University Gazette, vol. 58, nos. 1–2 (October 1983), p. 80; and the typescript of her talk to The Typophiles on May 12, 1982. In the latter she specifically says 64 jobs.
3. Eternal Rome is no. 560 in The Works of Carl R. Rollins by Gay Walker (New Haven: Yale University Library, 1982). Walker’s checklist only includes the illustrations and not the border design. W.A. Dwiggins’ account books list both. See Folder 6, Box 81(1), 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. The entries for Eternal Rome are April 9, 10, 12, 14 and 15, 1923. Dwiggins was paid $35 for the border and $30 for each illustration.
4. It is unlikely that Dwiggins drew the illustrations from memory as the one of the Lateran Cloister was not that lush at the time he visited Rome. Photographs dated c.1890 and 1904 in the Archivi Fratelli Alinari online show a sparser courtyard, but one from 1918 has, at its edge, a palm tree similar to the one Dwiggins has depicted. The photographs may have been provided by the author Grant Showerman who taught for 35 years at the American School for Classical Studies in Rome.
5. Where did Henry Lewis Johnson find the de Angelis title page? Worldcat lists only four copies of the 1573 edition of Caesaris Contardi Genven, three of them in Europe and the other at the University of California at Berkeley. It should be noted that The Graphic Arts Company device on the title page of Historic Design in Printing was designed in 1916 by Dwiggins for The Graphic Arts magazine.