The Definitive Dwiggins no. 178—The Mystery of the York Mysteries
The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177 focused on five sheets of rotunda sketches by W.A. Dwiggins contained in a small srapbook in the Dwiggins Collections at the Boston Public Library.  This post looks at two reproductions of a manuscript page headed “The Wefferes” pasted on a spread in the scrapbook. The reproduction on the left is printed in red and black while the one on the right is in black only (see below). 
“The Wefferes” [“the Weavers”] pages are facsimiles of f.238r from Add MSS 35290 (then in the British Museum but now in the British Library), known as the York Mystery Plays, “a cycle of religious dramas on biblical subjects staged and performed by craft guilds in the city of York during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.” Ostensibly, this specific page had been reproduced as Plate III in York Plays: The Plays Performed by the Crafts or Mysteries of York on the Day of Corpus Christi in the 14th, 15th, and 16th Centuries by Lucy Toulmin Smith (New York: Russell & Russell, 1885), but that was before the leaves were renumbered.  Thus, the first reproduction of f.238r did not appear until 1904 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. 
Neither of the two reproductions of “The Wefferes” in Dwiggins’ small scrapbook come from the 1904 issue of Lippincott’s. Not only are they larger, but there are significant differences between them and the magazine version—and between each other. As indicated earlier, the reproduction on the verso page in the scrapbook—which is missing the title and first stanza of lyrics—is printed in red and black while the Lippincott’s example is just black. Although the reproduction on the recto page in the scrapbook is also only black it is oddly incomplete—the staves, some notes, decorative elements, and the first line of text below the music are all missing. Also, the title in the recto sample has been pasted on. These differences, especially the missing red in the recto sample, pose a conundrum: where did the scrapbook reproductions of Add MSS 35290, f.238r come from if they were not clipped from an existing book or magazine?
There is one possible explanation, albeit one that cannot be currently proved: that both of the samples of Add MSS 35290, f.238r are proofs of “The Wefferes” page reproduced in Four Episodes from the York Mysteries of the Fourteenth Century (Boston: The Tavern Club, 1906). This idea is conjectural because this book is only known through the reproduction of its title page (see above).  Although “The Wefferes” is linked to the Assumption of the Virgin—which is not one of the four episodes of the book published by The Tavern Club—there is still the possibility that a page from it was used as a sample illustration of what the original York Mysteries manuscript looks like. If so, then the two sample facsimile pages of “The Wefferes” in Dwiggins’ scrapbook make sense as different proofing states: one as the first impression in black with the pasted-on title indicating a planned change in position; and the other as the second impression in red. The missing top portion of the latter reinforces the notion that these scrapbook items are works in progress. That Dwiggins would own such proofs makes sense since he contributed to the design of the book. 
The samples of “The Wefferes”—whatever their origins—had a modest influence on Dwiggins’ work. Simplified variants of its Secretary hand appear in three greeting cards that Dwiggins designed for publisher Alfred Bartlett: “There be / A wyshe I have for thee” by William Hallister Wall (1910), “Green grows the holly…” by Lady Lindsay (probably 1912), and, to a lesser extant, “Saint Francis and Saint Benedight [sic] / Bless this house from wicked wight” by William Cartwright (1908). 
The calligraphy of the “Saint Francis and Saint Benedight” card has only a few links to the Secretary hand of “The Wefferes”: letters F, S, T, a, d, e, and w.  Closer to the hand of “The Wefferes”, though still seriously modernized (i.e. simplified) is the calligraphy of “Green grows the holly” and especially “There be / A wyshe” cards. Dwiggins has dropped the looped ascenders (except for f in the latter card), the descending f, bowed r, long s, and the descending leg on h; and he has changed the horizontal leg of k. He has also eschewed using the thorn for y. The result is writing with a medieval flavor that was readable to Bartlett’s early 20th century customers. (The one unfamiliar form Dwiggins retained is the M in “There be / A wyshe”.) 
But the strongest link between the two scrapbook samples of Add MSS 35290, f.238r and Dwiggins’ work is the capital T in “There be / A wyshe” and the capital T in a Christmas card Dwiggins designed for himself in 1908 (see below).  Both mimic the capital T in the title of “The Wefferes” with its elongated top stroke that cuts through the following ascenders, but each is subtly different. The top stroke of T of “There be / A wyshe” loops back to join the body of the letter. More importantly the decoration inside the counter consists of three curved strokes while that of the 1908 Christmas card T only has two. In this detail the latter matches the T in the black-only proof of f.238r and the former matches the T in the original manuscript (with its slash of red on a black letter being converted to monochrome). 
The elongated T also shows up in a truncated form in “Old-old, so old; and yet so new,” a card that Dwiggins illustrated and lettered for Bartlett in 1913. Despite its shorter length the top stroke still crosses over two ascenders. The counter decoration is almost the same as that of “There be /A wyshe” except that the leftmost stroke is not curved. 
In The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177 Dwiggins was shown to have fairly faithfully copied rotunda models, changing only h and z, and inventing w to increase the familiarity of the medieval script. With Secretary hand he was much more willing to ignore slavish copying and to mix a few of its characteristic forms with those from Early Gothic or textura to create his own hybrid forms of “blackletter.” But the goal was still to make a medieval script that would be acceptable to 20th century eyes. Dwiggins’ interest in Secretary hand, like his interest in rotunda, disappeared after he ceased working for Bartlett in 1914.
1. The small scrapbook is in the Boston Public Library, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Box 80pb.
2. Unfortunately, I did not notice the differences between the two reproductions in 2016 and so only photographed the right side of the spread.
3. Plate III is actually f.241v today. When York Plays was published the manuscript was owned by the 5th Earl of Ashburnham and was designated as Ashburnham MS 137. The British Museum purchased it from him in 1899. Presumably that is when the renumbering occurred.
4. See Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine vol. 74, no. 10 (October 1904), p. 442. Based on online research, this is the only reproduction of Add MSS 35290, f.238r prior to the digitization of the entire manuscript of the York Plays. Another leaf (without musical notation) from Add MSS 35290 was reproduced in English Literature: An Illustrated Record in Four Volumes. Volume One: From the Beginnings to the Age of Henry VIII by Richard Garnett (London: William Heinemann and New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), p. 231.
5. There are no copies of Four Episodes from the York Mysteries of the Fourteenth Century (Boston: The Tavern Club, 1906) listed in WorldCat. And there is no entry for the book in Dwiggins’ surviving account books. The title page is shown in The Printing Art vol. XIX, no. 2 (April 1912), p. 123., where it is attributed to Dwiggins. It should be noted that the plays have been referred to by several names, including the York Plays, the York Mystery Plays, and the York Mysteries.
6. For an unspecified length of time in 1906 Dwiggins had “desk space” at the Heintzemann Press, located at 185 Franklin Street in Boston, for three days a week according to his wife. See the manuscript “‘W.A.D.’ Sec. 5 May ’58” by Mabel Hoyle Dwiggins, p. 4 in University of Kentucky, C.H. Griffith Papers, Box 8, Folder 1. As an aside, the M in “Mysteries” is similar to an M on the sheet of combined rotunda minuscules and capitals in the small scrapbook. See The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177.
7. Copies of all of these cards are in the Newberry Library, the James Hayes Papers (Wing Modern MS Hayes), Box 33, Folder 136. Hayes sent photocopies of them, along with other Bartlett items ostensibly done by Dwiggins, to Dorothy Abbe, Dwiggins’ art executrix, for her opinion on their attribution. She said yes to “There be / A wyshe I have for thee” (no. 9) and “Saint Francis and Saint Benedight” (no. 11) and no to “Green grows the holly” (no. 1 interior and no. 13 front), based on entries in Dwiggins’ account books. She also nixed no. 1 because it was written in what she mistakenly considered to be a “poor Foundational”. See pencilled notes by Abbe on the photocopies accompanying James Hayes to Dorothy Abbe 27 November 1987 in Boston Public Library, Dorothy Abbe Collection 2001, Box 33, Folder 33–2330. Calligrapher Hayes (1907–1993) said he acquired the Bartlett cards from Ernst Detterer (1897–1968), calligrapher and Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library, who collected them “around the time they came out.” For documentation of “Saint Francis and Saint Benedight” and “There be / A wyshe” see entries for 2 October 1908 and 13 September 1910 respectively in the Boston Public Library, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Box 81(2), Folder 2 Account Books & Records: “Orders” July 1905–November 1913. “Green grows the holly” is no. 307 in Bartlett’s Third Series of Christmas Cards in A Catalogue of the Publications of Alfred Bartlett for the Year 1912–1913, where both the cover and interior are uncredited. Although the card does not appear in Dwiggins’ account books that does not mean he did not design it as there are items credited to him in Alfred Bartlett’s catalogues that are also absent from his accounts (e.g. “The Message of the Bells” no. 330 in the 1914 catalogue “lettered by Mr. Dwiggins”). Given that its calligraphy is similar to that of “There be / A wyshe” I believe it is by Dwiggins. Furthermore its cover has an unsigned illustration that Bartlett used for two other cards where he credited it to Dwiggins. See nos. 324 and 324a in Bartlett’s Third Series of Christmas Cards in A Catalogue of the Publications of Alfred Bartlett 1914, p. 15. One final reason for crediting the card to Dwiggins is that its illustration and calligraphy do not look remotely like the work of any of Bartlett’s other artists (Herbert Ames, Louise K. Ames, R. Anning Bell, Jay Chambers, Herbert Gregson, T.B. Hapgood, or George Wolfe Plank). Bartlett did not always identify or credit the sources for his motto and greeting cards, often referring to them by their first lines. “Saint Francis and Saint Benedight” is by William Cartwright c.1635. “There be / A wyshe” is “A Crystmesse Wyshe” by William Hallister Wall appeared in Belford’s magazine vol. 2, no. 1 (December 1888), p. 25, but it is unclear when it was first written. “Green grows the holly” was included in A Christmas Posy of Carols, Songs, and Other Pieces by Lady Lindsay (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. 1902), p. 32. It is one of several original poems by Caroline Blanche Elizabeth Lindsay (1844–1912), mixed in with medieval and Elizabethan texts.
8. The “Saint Francis and Saint Benedight” card is Friend-to-Friend card no. 30 in A Catalogue of the Publications from Albert Bartlett 1908. Dwiggins’ calligraphy is a mix of these Secretary hand letters with letters possibly modeled on the Foundational hand of English calligrapher Edward Johnston (1872–1944) which itself was derived from Late Carolingian scripts, specifically the late 10th century Ramsey Psalter (British Library, Harley MS 2904). See Writing, Illuminating, & Lettering by Edward Johnston (London: John Hogg, 1906), pp. 305–310 and Plate VIII; and Manuscript & Inscription Letters for Schools & Classes and or the Use of Craftsmen by Edward Johnston with A.E.R. Gill (London: John Hogg, 1909), Plate 6—”Slanted Pen” Small-Letters. For information on Secretary hand and other gothic cursive hands in England see English Cursive Book Hands, 1250–1500 by M.B. Parkes (London and Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1980) and A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 by Michelle Brown (London and Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993).
9. These two cards bear some resemblance to the early 15th-century writing in Plate 19 (ii) (MS. Bodley 467 [SC. 2487]) in English Cursive Book Hands, 1250–1500. Parkes describes the writing as a mixed hand in which Secretary forms have been combined with Anglicana Formata ones. Dwiggins did use the thorn for y in “Come bring with a noise,” a card he designed for Alfred Bartlett in 1907. The calligraphy also has looped ascenders, but otherwise it is closer to an Early Gothic hand.
10. The T is the only aspect of the Christmas card that bears any resemblance to Add MSS 35290. The capitals H, N, and S (black) come from an alphabet copied out by Dwiggins that is also in the small scrapbook. (See the upper alphabet in the image below.) But the other capitals come from other sources, and the minuscules are a Dwigginsian interpretation of a textura. The card was later sold by Bartlett in his Second Series of Christmas cards. See no. 302 in A Catalogue of the Publications of Alfred Bartlett 1914, p. 11. That the card was originally made for his personal sale is indicated by the 26 September and 10 October 1908 account book entries marked, “WAD Christmas card, Carolers.” See Boston Public Library, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Box 81(2), Folder 2 Account Books & Records: “Orders” July 1905–November 1913. The card was job no. 5381 for The Merrymount Press and the job ticket clearly indicates Dwiggins and not Bartlett was the client. See the Boston Athenaeum, Merrymount Press Job Tickets, job ticket no. 5381 which includes a pencil sketch of the design and unstencilled copies of the card.
11. Unfortunately, the title is missing from the verso sample of “The Wefferes” in the small scrapbook. But it can be seen online in the digitized version of Add MSS 35290.
12. “Old-old, so old” is not listed in Dwiggins’ account books—which are missing entries for October and November 1913—and Bartlett does not credit him, but both the unsigned illustration and the calligraphy are unmistakably his. The card is no. 181 in A Catalogue of the Publications of Alfred Bartlett 1914, p. 9. It is also reproduced in The American Printer vol. 57, no. 4 (December 1913), p. 486 where its design is also uncredited. (Compare the two Bartlett cards on that page to see how distinctive Dwiggins’ calligraphy is compared to that of the other artists Bartlett hired.) The card is in red and black, but the online copies are all monochrome.