From the Bookcase no. 2 addendum—Samuel Bartels

This is an addendum to From the Bookcase no. 2—Spacing in Typography which focused on two books about typography by E.R. Currier and Samuel A. Bartels.

Contest winners (1916). Samuel Bartels is on the bottom line, second from right.

Tailor’s Announcement Contest winners (1916). Samuel Bartels is on the bottom line, second from right.

Before beginning his career as a typographer in New York City, Samuel Bartels was a winner in a 1915 contest sponsored by The American Printer. The Tailor’s Announcement Contest—opened November 20, 1915 and closed March 5, 1916—drew more entries (607) than any of the magazine’s previous design contests. The rules for the contest were as follows:

The contest is open to all who may desire to compete. The copy may be set by hand or machine, and only one style of typeface should be used. (This allows for the use of capitals, small capitals and lower-case of both roman and italic.) Ornamentation of any kind is permissible, but not demanded. Six proofs to be submitted, printed in black and orange on any kind of paper, the size of which must be four by five inches. [2]

Copy for the announcement, an invitation by The Warp Loome Company of their spring line of fabrics, was provided by The American Printer. (Sample text: “If you want the kind of clothes that are dressy and smart you should add your name to our list of pleased customers.”) There were thirteen winners. The first three received cash prizes of $20, $10, and $5 respectively, while the remaining ten were given a “three-dollar subscription to The American Printer.” All received a Certificate of Award. David Silvé and Frederick W. Anthoensen, the first- and second-prize winners, went on to have notable careers in American printing and design in succeeding decades. [3] Amongst the other winners was the twelfth-prize winner, Samuel Bartels, one of the subjects of my From the Bookcase no. 2 post.

The criteria for choosing the contest winners was simple. “The judges seemed to be of the opinion that an announcement should not only be pleasing to look upon, but should accentuate in some manner that part of the copy which explains its purpose.” [4] Of Bartels’ entry, the magazine said:

As in the first-prize winner, the initial sentence of the copy is displayed in three lines. The formation of groups and the general arrangement of this announcement in Packard capitals are high-class. Only the inner part of the border was in color. [5]

Bartels’ design is austere, with the only ornamentation being the double-rule border. See no. 12 below at lower right. [6]

Winners 4 to 13 of the Tailor's Announcement Contest. The American Printer vol. 62, no. 11 (June 5, 1916), following p. 40.

Winners 4 to 13 of the Tailor’s Announcement Contest. From The American Printer vol. 62, no. 11 (June 5, 1916), following p. 40.

Each of the winners was asked by The American Printer about their views on typography and design. Unfortunately, Bartels had little to say on those subjects, but a lot to say about contests and the needs of the printing industry:

The value of taking part in contests of this nature cannot be overestimated, and therefore anything that can increase the interest of printers in these contests should be welcome. It is the writer’s opinion that if, in announcing future contests, the various points which will be considered in selecting the winners are stated, greater satisfaction will be given to those competing and to those desiring to compete. For instance, one hundred points or marks could be taken as a basis, and a specified number of points allowed, say, for advertising value, appropriateness of type to the subject in hand, legibility, relevant display, general arrangement, and the quantity and position of color used (if two or more colors are required). Some such system would seem to be feasible, and would at the same time eliminate the dissatisfaction (often unwarranted, it is true) shown by those not fortunate in gaining a place among the winners. In conclusion, will state that most of my knowledge was obtained from the excellent I.T.U. Course (graduate 1910), from books on typography and from the trade journals. If employers and workmen throughout the country could be awakened to the advantages to be gained from constant perusal of the leading trade periodicals, the general quality of printing in the United States would be improved considerably. The reading of articles on problems confronting printers is most instructive, and the presentation of specimens from leading concerns is inspiring, to say the least. One of the greatest needs in the printing office is to secure executives (both for the administrative and mechanical departments) with a fair knowledge of the technical points of typography, that they may not only be able properly to instruct apprentices and select competent journeymen, but that they may also be in a position to advise a customer intelligently as to the kind of printing he should have, and as to the way it should be executed. [7]

Short biographies of the prize winners were included in The American Printer article on the contest. The 30-year old Bartels was from Jersey City, New Jersey where he was working as a specimen compositor for the American Type Founders Company. He had learned printing from W.L. Wardell in New York City. He had entered other contests but this was the first time he had been among the winners. It was the beginning of his career as a typographer.

1. The American Printer, vol. 62, no. 11 (June 5, 1916), pp. 37–40, 42. All of those who took part in the contest (a “roll of honor”) had their names listed. The only ones that I recognize are Ellsworth Geist of Pittsburgh and Axel Edwin Sahlin of The Roycrofters.
2. ibid.
3. Both David Silvé and Frederick W. Anthoensen were previous contest winners. Silvé, 27 years old at the time of the contest, was in charge of the type shop at The Marchbanks Press. He was a graduate of the specimen-printing department of the American Type Founders Company (where he presumably knew Bartels). After that he worked in Boston (The University Press) and New Orleans before returning to New York where he worked for McGraw-Hill Company, Scientific American, and Bartlett-Orr Press before joining Marchbanks. He then went on to Street & Finney before becoming the consulting typographer for the newly formed Pynson Printers in 1922. Silvé subsequently  worked for The Plandome Press where he designed The Architect and the Industrial Arts (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1929) with covers by W.A. Dwiggins. Alexander Lawson credits Silvé with popularizing Times Roman in the United States while consultant to the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company in the 1930s. Silvé was active in the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The Danish-born Anthoensen was 34 years old and working in the composing room of the Southworth Printing Company in Portland, Maine in 1916. He purchased the press in 1934 and changed its name to The Southworth-Anthoensen Press. Anthoensen printed several books designed by W.A. Dwiggins, most notably Droll Stories by Honoré de Balzac (1932) and Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais (1936) for The Limited Editions Club.
4.  The American Printer, vol. 62, no. 11 (June 5, 1916), p. 37.
5. ibid.
6.  The winning entries are shown on three pages between p. 40 and p. 42; and a selection of other entries are on two pages following p. 42.
7. The American Printer, vol. 62, no. 11 (June 5, 1916), p. 42.