The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177 addendum no. 2—Christ with Us
On Christmas Day 1905, as a gift for his mother Eva, W.A. Dwiggins wrote out and bound a manuscript copy of “Christ with Us” by Edwin Markham (1852–1940).  The poem had just been published that month upfront in the December issue of Woman’s Home Companion.  Eva, a devout Baptist, must have deeply appreciated Markham’s message as well as her son’s gesture.
“Christ with Us” is written out in a textura in black ink with the opening and closing lines, side notes, rubrication, and one initial in red ink; and one initial in blue ink. The textura is spikier and less assured than the one Dwiggins employed months later for The Phillips Brooks Calendar and Bartlett’s motto cards and dodgers. But, like those later works, it has the same cavalier mixture of blackletter majuscules (rotunda and fraktur joining textura ones). The rotunda capitals are: E on the title page; P in “Poet” on the second page on; T, A, and I on the third page; T, A, I, G, C, and S (two forms) on the fourth page; and the M and third D on the colophon page. The blue initial I is fraktur.  A few of the rotunda capitals match sketches made by Dwiggins in a small scrapbook. But his sources for the others as well as for the textura are unknown.  Perhaps Dwiggins mixed his capitals because he had a paucity of sources to draw on.
The question that continues to dog me—in this post as well as several others—is: “Where did Dwiggins find his models and his inspiration for his calligraphy in the early years of his career?” Not only for the textura with mixed majuscules in “Christ with Us,” but also for much of his work for Bartlett and E.O. Grover in the years from 1905 to 1912.  The sources for Dwiggins were much more circumscribed than for his slightly elder contemporaries Edward Johnston (1872–1944) and Rudolf Koch (1876–1934). In those years the libraries and museums of Chicago and Boston were no match for those of London and Germany. As of 1910 there were less than a dozen English-language books containing pre-1700 examples of historic writing styles. There were few illustrated catalogues of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts; and no facsimiles of books of hours or of manuals by Renaissance writing masters such as Arrighi or Palatino. There were no magazines devoted to calligraphy and lettering. And there were no calligraphic societies with workshops.
Dwiggins learned some lettering from Frederic W. Goudy while at the Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago, but Goudy himself was self-taught. And, along with an advanced education in illustration and decoration as an adjunct to his work for Daniel Berkeley Updike, he likely got one in lettering and type as well. But that work did not begin in earnest until 1907. So, the question remains: “Where did Dwiggins find his models and his inspiration for his calligraphy in the early years of his career?”
1. The “Christ with Us” manuscript is in the Boston Public Library, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Box 37, Folder 21.
2. The December 1905 issue of Woman’s Home Companion is not available online, but Markham’s poem was reprinted from advance sheets in Current Literature vol. XXXIX, no. 6 (December 1905), p. 688. Markham is most famous today for his 1898 poem, “The Man with the Hoe.”
3. It should be noted that on the colophon page Dwiggins has mistaken a V for the first and second D.
4. See the A, S, and T on the scrap of paper that is the fourth image in The Definitive Dwiggins no. 177 post. The small scrapbook is in the Boston Public Library, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Box 80pb.
5. I suspect that Dwiggins got the idea of adding red rules to the title page of “Christ with Us” from Bartlett’s Today and Friendship calendars, and not from seeing medieval manuscripts.