The Definitive Dwiggins no. 720—Bertram B. Udell, W.A. Dwiggins & Oswald Cooper: A Question of Attribution

This post is an update and corrective to The Definitive Dwiggins no. 20 in which I tried to figure out how Bertram B. Udell (1877–1956) of The Printing Studio had come to print work signed “WAD” and “C”.

Portrait of Bertram B. Udell (1912). From The Inland Printer vol. XLIX, no. 3 (June 1912), p. 385. Photograph by Misses Ray and Heine.

Bertram B. Udell
Bertram B. Udell was born in Rantoul, Illinois in 1877. [1] His father E.J. Udell (1838–1903) was the publisher of The Rantoul News from 1891 until his death. [2] The younger Udell worked on the newspaper in various capacities until November 1902 when he moved to Chicago to work as a compositor. [3] Upon his father’s death he returned to Rantoul and took over operations of the newspaper. But his tenure was brief. By January 1, 1904 he had moved back to Chicago, leaving control of the newspaper in the hands of his mother Helen. [4]

The specifics of Udell’s second stint in Chicago are unclear. In his Inland Printer profile, Tresize simply says, “During the next few years Mr. Udell worked in several different offices in Chicago, both in the composing room and as a salesman He was also with Philip Ruxton, Inc. for a time….” [5] He does not indicate when Udell opened The Printing Studio, but it must have been between mid-1909 when he is listed as a printing salesman in the Highland park section of the Evanston city directory and May 1910 when the United States census records him as a job printer in that same Chicago suburb. [6] The Printing Studio seems to have only lasted a few years since Udell returned to his family’s newspaper roots with the establishment of The Wilmette Citizen in 1913. [7]

The Letter “C”
Maddeningly, Tresize did not discuss Udell’s printing, other than to conclude with this statement: “As the reproductions will show, Mr. Udell is a firm believer in the use of hand-lettering as a means of producing the exceptional in printing.” [8] His comment implies that Udell was responsible for the lettering in the samples, even though there is no evidence that he had any such talents. In The Definitive Dwiggins no. 20 I assigned the lettering shown in The Inland Printer article to either W.A. Dwiggins or T.M. Cleland. I now believe that my attributions were wrong.

Cleland used “C” as his signature for many years which is why I assumed some of the Udell items were his work, even though there is no evidence that Cleland ever worked for a Chicago client during his long career. More importantly, I should have been skeptical that the “C” stood for Cleland since the lettering is much cruder than what he was doing at that time. Below is an example of Cleland’s lettering in 1908 followed by one of the greeting cards printed by Udell that I misidentified.

Cover of McClure’s Magazine (June 1908). Design, decoration and lettering by T.M. Cleland.

Greeting card (n.d.) printed by Bertram Udell and The Printing Studio. Reproduced in The Inland Printer vol. XLIX, no. 3 (June 1912). Lettering (signed “C”) probably by Oswald Cooper.

I now believe that, despite its apparent crudeness, this lettering (whether signed “C” or unsigned)—and all of the lettering in the Udell article (with one notable exception)—is by Oswald Cooper (1879–1940) rather than by either Cleland or Dwiggins. Cooper’s lettering was sometimes clumsy in his early years, though it underwent a noticeable maturation as early as the end of 1907. The other designs accompanying the Udell profile in The Inland Printer are evidence of that change. [9]

Greeting card (n.d.) printed by Bertram Udell and The Printing Studio. Reproduced in The Inland Printer vol. XLIX, no. 3 (June 1912). Lettering not signed, but probably by Oswald Cooper.

Over the past few years I have been deeply investigating the work of Cooper, a classmate of Dwiggins at the Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago. In the course of my research I have discovered that Cooper was enamored with the lettering of George Auriol (1863–1938) and the typefaces he created for Georges Peignot et Fils. He adapted Auriol’s style—with its distinctive swash v, w, and y letters—for numerous motto cards and greeting cards c.1909–1912. The example below, created for Rogers & Smith, a printing firm in Chicago, is typical of Cooper’s “Auriol” lettering.

“Let Us Smile” greeting card (c.1909). Lettering by Oswald Cooper; printed by Rogers & Smith Co. Image courtesy of The Chicago History Museum.

“A Calendar of Happy Days” title page (probably 1910). Mechanical with border by W.A. Dwiggins and lettering by Oswald Cooper. Image courtesy of The Newberry Library.

A Calendar of Happy Days
In The Definitive Dwiggins no. 20 I credited the design headed “A Calendar of Happy Days” to Dwiggins. I was partially wrong. The border, signed “WAD”, was indeed done by him, but the lettering within the border was executed by Cooper. This assertion is verified by the survival of the mechanical for the design (shown above) in the Oswald Bruce Cooper Papers at The Newberry Library. The Cooper collection also includes sheet with a label “From / The Printing Studio of Bertram B. Udell / Highland Park, Illinois” on which someone has added in pencil “A Calendar of Happy Days.” [10] But there is no indication where the Dwiggins border came from, nor who commissioned or published the calendar.

I have been unable to find any record of “A Calendar of Happy Days” via online sources. However, there are references to two “Happy Days” calendars, one  published by H.M. Caldwell Co. of Boston in 1910 and the other published by P.F. Volland Co. of Chicago in 1911. Cooper did a lot of work for Volland between 1908, the year of the firm’s founding, and World War I, but a description of its “‘Happy Days’ children calendars” is too sketchy to compare it to the mechanical. [11] On the other hand, the description of the Caldwell calendar in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is a plausible match: “The [Caldwell] ‘Happy Days’ calendar has a dozen pages, on each of which appears a cheery quotation relative to the charms of happiness, in decorative lettering, inclosed [sic] in a floral or scroll border worked in colors.” [12] Unfortunately, neither Dwiggins nor Cooper worked for Caldwell.

A third possibility is the W.A. Wilde Co., a publisher founded in Boston in 1868 but with a major presence in Chicago after 1895. Bertsch & Cooper designed stationery, catalogues, gift books and other items for the company in the same years that it was working for Volland. [13] A 1910 Christmas advertisement by Boggs & Buhl, a Pittsburgh department store, lists many kinds of calendars including ones that are lithographed or hand-colored. Among them are:

Calendars of inspiration—and sentiment—thots [sic] and verses.
Calendars of artistic merit and of novelty in great profusion.
“Calendar of Cheer,” “Calendar of Friendship,” “Business Man’s Calendar,” and “Happy Days calendar…”
“Love’s Calendar,” “Calendar of Golden Thoughts,” “Stevenson Friendship Calendar”… [14]

The publisher or publishers of the various calendars are not identified, but several of them—most notably “The Stevenson Friendship Calendar”—indirectly point to W.A. Wilde. The Friendship calendar was originally a contemporary spin-off from Catchwords: A Magazine of Inspiration and Good Cheer published by The Canterbury Company in 1906. The first number—and as far as I know, the only number—of the magazine consisted of twelve quotations on the theme of friendship by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) hand-lettered by W.A. Dwiggins. They were repurposed for the calendar with the addition of hand-lettered months and a decorative border to tie the two elements together. Two years later The Canterbury Company gathered the quotations into a small book titled The Meaning of Friendship. [15] Then, sometime in 1910, W.A. Wilde Co. apparently acquired The Canterbury Company and rebranded its books, calendars, and other items—including The Meaning of Friendship and “A Stevenson Friendship Calendar”—as The Canterbury Series of Little Gifts. They were first advertised during the 1910 Christmas season.[16]

The Canterbury Series of Little Gifts advertisement in Peloubet’s Select Notes on the International Lessons for 1911 by Rev. F.N. Peloubet and Prof. Amos R. Wells (Boston and Chicago: W.A. Wilde Company; New York: The Baker & Taylor Co., 1911). “A Stevenson Friendship Calendar” is at lower right.

There is another printed item by Udell in The Inland Printer article that can be linked to Dwiggins. It is a small card for a Chicago-area company called Farran, Ward & Company.  The initial W is the key to figuring out how Udell and Dwiggins were connected. It was cribbed from “An Honest Friend,” one of the Stevenson quotations lettered by Dwiggins for Catchwords in late 1906. [17]

Notice by Farran, Ward & Company (1910) printed by Bertram B. Udell of The Printing Studio. Reproduced in The Inland Printer vol. XLIX, no. 3 (June 1912), between pp. 384 and 385. Original probably in black with red initial W.

“An Honest Friend” and “Of what shall a man…” spread from Catchwords vol. I, no. 1 (November 1906). Design and lettering by W.A. Dwiggins. Image courtesy of Special Collections, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina.

Edwin O. Grover in 1902.

Edwin O. Grover
The connection among all of these individuals, companies, and publications is Edwin Osgood Grover (1870–1965). Grover was a Dartmouth College classmate, publishing colleague, and close friend of Alfred Bartlett (1870–1926), the Boston publisher (and key Dwiggins client in the years 1905–1914). He helped Bartlett establish The Cornhill Booklet in the summer of 1900. At the same time he founded The Craftsman’s Guild with the aim of reviving “the early book and missal illuminating of the monastic period”, located at the same 21 Cornhill premises in Boston. [18] In the fall of 1901 Grover moved west to Chicago where he became an editor at Rand, McNally & Co. A year later he re-established The Craftsman’s Guild in his new home of Highland Park as an Arts & Crafts business making children’s toys and, later, chocolate candies. In late 1905 he created The Canterbury Company as a vehicle for his publishing interests. [19]

The Canterbury Company was clearly modeled on Bartlett’s publishing formula which included small books, motto cards, and calendars. In November 1906 it published the first issue of Catchwords: A Magazine of Inspiration and Good Cheer which was mentioned earlier. The “magazine” was actually twelve pages of Stevenson quotations, most of them on companionship and friendship, designed and lettered by Dwiggins. Grover turned the pages into individual motto cards. [20] In 1907 he created “A Catchword Calendar 1908” with twelve diverse hand-lettered quotations. Two of them are signed D. for Dwiggins (and a third is probably his work as well). The remainder are unsigned, but I am certain that six are Cooper’s work, along with the cover. [21]

March page from “A Catchword Calendar 1908” (Highland Park, Illinois: The Canterbury Company, 1907). Quotation probably lettered by Oswald Cooper; month lettered by W.A. Dwiggins. Image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.

Cover for box set of blotters “A Set of Catchword Blotters: A Calendar for the Year” (1911). Design and lettering by Oswald Cooper. Image courtesy of The Newberry Library.

The “Catchwords” brand continued after the acquisition of The Canterbury Company by the W.A. Wilde Co. In 1911, the latter issued “A Set of Catchwords: A Calendar for the Year,” a boxed set of monthly calendars with quotations in the form of blotters, with cover and introductory blotter lettered by Cooper. The individual calendar blotters all reused quotations from the “Catchwords” calendars of 1907 and 1909 published by The Canterbury Company. December was one of the Stevenson quotations Dwiggins had first lettered in 1906. [22]

All of this links Dwiggins and Cooper directly to Grover; Cooper directly to Udell; and Dwiggins and Grover indirectly to Udell. The missing link is a direct one from Grover to Udell which I have been unable to find. None of the surviving printed works of The Canterbury Company mention their printer. Grover could have used any one of hundreds of printers in Chicago. There is only one printer in Highland Park listed in the available city directories during the years from 1906 to 1912: The Highland Printery operated by the A.E. Dorsey Co. in 1909. The Printing Office of Bertram B. Udell is not listed, though his residential address is. [23] It seems unlikely that he operated it out of his home, given the amount of equipment—three presses and several cabinets of type—shown in the photographs accompanying The Inland Printer article. But I am unable to come up with another explanation for the omission.

Grover would not have hired the A.E. Dorsey Co. since it specialized in printing bakery labels. But The Printing Shop of Bertram B. Udell, with its Washington hand press and two Chandler & Price platen presses would certainly have appealed to Grover’s “craftsman” ethos as would its motto:

We believe in doing our work in a manner to reflect credit, not only upon ourselves, but upon those for whom we do it and upon the community in which the work is performed. [24]

Udell and Grover must have known each other since the two men lived a block apart in the Public Park section of Highland Park in 1909 (and probably before then): Grover at 224 Park Avenue and Udell at 205 Central Avenue. [25] Thus, despite the lack of incontrovertible evidence, I believe that Udell must have been Grover’s printer for at least one or more of The Canterbury Company items published between early 1907 and mid-1909. It is the only possibility that explains Udells’ access to the artwork (or zincos made from it) that Dwiggins created for Grover.

1. Rantoul is a small town located just north of Champaign, Illinois and about 120 miles due south of Chicago.
2. See the obituary of E.J. Udell in The Champaign Daily Gazette 17 April 1903.
3. The Champaign Daily News 28 November 1902, p. 3. The move took place sometime between October 22 and November 22 based on gossip items in other local newspapers. The Typographical Journal vol. XXI, no. 10 (November 1902), p. 456 lists Udell as an applicant for membership in the International Typographical Union of North America. It describes him as having “served seven years’ apprenticeship in the News office, at Rantoul, Germany [sic].” This must have led to the six-month spell with Hollister Brothers that Tresize mentions. See “Job Composition” column by F.J. Tresize in The Inland Printer vol. XLIX, no. 3 (June 1912), p. 388.
4. See The Champaign Daily News 21 January 1904. p. 6 and The Champaign Daily Gazette 15 December 1903, p. 1. Helen Udell sold the newspaper seven months later.
5. See Tresize, p. 388. Udell’s life must have been more unsettled than Tresize indicates. The Champaign County News 25 August 1906, p. 6 said that Udell was moving from Chicago to Kenosha, Wisconsin to become city editor for a local newspaper, but I have been unable to find any corroboration of this. However, in December 1907 he successfully petitioned for bankruptcy, indicating that things were not going so well. See The Chicago Inter-Ocean 17 December 1907, p. 10.
6. Philip Ruxton, Inc. was a New York-based manufacturer of printing inks. This may be who Udell was working for in 1909. At what point Udell moved to Highland Park is unclear since there are no surviving Chicago residential directories or Highland Park ones from the years 1904–1908. His sister Ruth moved to Highland Park after her marriage in 1908. He may have followed her—or vice versa.
7. Udell had moved the The Printing Studio to nearby Wilmette by the time he was profiled by Tresize. Udell’s career as a Wilmette publisher is chronicled at The Wilmette Beacon Daily.
8. Tresize, p. 388.
9. It should be noted that none of the lettering examples accompanying the Tresize profile of Udell in The Inland Printer are dated or even fully credited. Oswald Cooper rarely signed his lettering work. There are a few early examples with his full name or the letter “C”. But most of the signed work that emerged from his partnership with Fred Bertsch (1879–1953) has “B” next to the decorative portions with no signature for his lettering.
1o. The mechanical and label are in Folder 143 (labeled W.A. Dwiggins Ephemera), Box 5, Oswald Bruce Cooper Papers (Wing Modern MS Cooper), The Newberry Library. There is also artwork for “The Udell Printers” lettered in the “Cooper Black” style that Cooper developed c.1913/1914 in Folder 82, Box 3, Oswald Bruce Cooper Papers (Wing Modern MS Cooper), The Newberry Library. Note: these are the new box and folder designations which do not match the ones in my notes before 2012.
11. An advertisement for the Volland Art Publications includes “‘Happy Days’ children calendars, 13 beautifully illustrated pages” among its gift items. See The Atlanta Constitution 30 November 1911, p. 8. There is also a other references to a “Happy Days” calendar in several 1911 stationery store advertisements, but they lack both details and an indication of the publisher. I suspect they refer to the Volland calendar since the company specialized in stationery items such as poetry books, gift books, greeting cards, et al as well as calendars.
12. The description is from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle 10 December 1910, p. 9.  There is a brief mention of the Caldwell calendar in Book Notes vol. 27, no. 20 (October 1, 1910), p. 155, but no image. The Cooper mechanical still has a tissue overlay with the initial N and parts of the border marked in vermilion.
13. Several examples of the studio’s work for W.A. Wilde is shown in The Graphic Arts vol. IV, no. 5 (April 1913), p. 310 as part of “The Work of Fred S. Bertsch and Oswald Cooper” by E. Ralph Estep pp. 309–320. Also see their design of Wilde’s busines forms in “Suggestive Forms for Business Stationery” in The Printing Art vol. XXIII, no. 5 (July 1914), p. 364.
14. See The Pittsburgh Daily Post 8 December 1910, p. 4.
15. See the advertisement in The International Studio vol. XXX, no. 118 (December 1906), n.p. “A Stevenson Friendship Calendar” should not be confused with A Stevenson Calendar edited by Florence L. Tucker (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1909) for which Dwiggins designed the binding.
16. For example, see the advertisement at the back of Peloubet’s Select Notes on the International Lessons for 1911: A History of Israel and Judah: Stories of Great men from 900 too 300 B.C. by Rev. F.N. Peloubet and Prof. Amos R. Wells (Boston and Chicago: W.A. Wilde Company; New York: The Baker & Taylor Co., 1911), p. 384. Also see the notice in The Continent vol. 41, no. 49 (December 22, 1910), p. 1862. Other advertisements for The Canterbury Series of Little Gifts—smaller and lettered by Cooper—appeared in the November and December 1910 issues of The Living Church and The Christian Register. I have been unable to find any legal announcement or news item about the acquisition. However, the sale may have been triggered by Edwin Grover’s move from Highland Park to New York in June 1909 to run the New York branch of Atkinson, Mentzer & Grover.
17. I have been unable to identify a business called Farran, Ward & Co. anywhere in the United States. It may have ben a short-lived successor to Chas. J. Farran & Co., purveyor of “high grade groceries and meats,” in Evanston. “An Honest Friend” was included in “A Stevenson Friendship Calendar,” and The Meaning of Friendship.
18. Several sources have incorrectly described The Craftsman’s Guild as a Bartlett publication similar to The Cornhill Booklet. It was not a periodical and never published one. Its first offering was a rubbing of William Shakespeare’s epitaph. See The Cornhill Booklet vol. I, no. 1 (July 1900), p. 28. But by the fall it had become focused on publishing limited edition, hand-illuminated books. This is its principal legacy. See The Publishers’ Weekly no. 1493 (September 8, 1900), p. 486. For an example of the Gild’s books see the website of bookseller James E. Arsenault & Co. for images of The Perfect Woman (Boston: The Craftsman’s Guild, 1900), lettered by Cora June Cady and illuminated by Emilie Whitten. Although Bartlett was listed in the advertisement for Shakespeare’s epitaph as the treasurer of the Guild, he was always described as its agent after the turn toward publishing illuminated books. Grover was the sole force behind the Guild.
19. See my discussion of the origins of Dwiggins’ first version of The Parable of the Prodigal Son for the details of Grover’s establishment of The Canterbury Company and its relationship with Bartlett.
20. All of the motto cards are in Folders 19–20, Box 41, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Special Collections, Boston Public Library.
21. Dwiggins was responsible for January, October (unsigned), and December, as well as for the calendar portion of each page. Cooper did March, April, May, July, August, and September. A third person did the other three in broad pen calligraphy that looks like it was influenced by Writing & Illuminating & Lettering by Edward Johnston (London: John Hogg, 1906). My attributions are based on seeing numerous examples of Cooper’s lettering for The Canterbury Company, P.F. Volland, and Atlkinson, Mentzer & Grover in the period 1906 to 1914 that are archived at The Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum.
22. The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer vol. XXXVII, no. 10 (November 15, 1912), p. 600 mentions Wilde’s Canterbury Calendars, including the Catchword Calendar for 1913, but I have found no documentary evidence for “Catchword” calendars produced for the years 1909 to 1911. The quotation was “To Keep Friends with Himself”. Each of the blotters has an unsigned leaf border that and a calendar badly lettered in an imitation of Flemish Black (American Type Founders c.1902). Cooper did not do the lettering, but it is possible that Bertsch did the border.
23. It is unfortunate that there are no Highland Park city directories for the years 1907–1908, and 1911. In the 1912 directory Udell had already moved to Wilmette, which supports the information provided by Tresize in The Inland Printer article. Described as a printer, his address is 914 13th Street.
24. “Job Composition” column by F.J. Tresize in The Inland Printer vol. XLIX, no. 3 (June 1912), p. 388.
25. Current maps place 224 Park Avenue and 205 Central Avenue as nearly back-to-back properties. But neither address appears on what survives of the 1918 Sanborn maps of Highland Park. They imply that the addresses would have been on opposite sides of Central Park (as Public Park was called by then). In either case, Grover and Udell were clearly close neighbors.