The Definitive Dwiggins no. 445—Faust
“For me to function in the project, I should have to have a free hand with the typographic scheme, and be backed up by you in any discussion with Author (I foresee discussion!),” W.A. Dwiggins wrote to Sidney R. Jacobs (1909–2000), production manager at Alfred A. Knopf, on March 19, 1941. “If it is a case, like some others, where Author has to have his way for one reason or another, I want to be told, so I can drop out now!”  The book he was referring to was Faust, Parts One and Two. However, the author in question was not Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832) but George Madison Priest (1873–1947), the book’s English translator. 
Dwiggins found the design of Faust to be “an interesting problem,” but he was worried by the layout of the typescript sent him. He wanted to follow the style of the early Shakespeare folios as Bruce Rogers had recently done for the thirty-seven volumes of The Plays of William Shakespeare: The Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies (New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1939). But he hoped to get an 18th century feeling by using Bulmer instead of Janson. He planned to work out a sample page with Jack Ladd of the Plimpton Press to show the author before going ahead. “But—Nota Bene,” he added in the letter to Jacobs, “—a free hand for me, unless Author can show me wherein his way is better!”  The sample layout pleased Priest since Dwiggins did not drop out as threatened. 
It is not surprising that Dwiggins viewed the typographic scheme of Faust as a challenge. The book is one of the most typographically complicated books he designed for Alfred A. Knopf.  The design (see some sample tissues, proofs and printed pages below) involved a variety of heads and subheads, stage directions, speakers’ names, poetry, line numbering, and the usual running heads, folios, etc. Dwiggins set the text in his own Caledonia with ATF Bulmer for the principal heads. He initially included decorative ornaments (a rosette and an Aldus leaf) from Mergenthaler Linotype (nos. 1627 and 1628R), but later thought better of their use. 
Other than the letter warning against authorial interference, there is no correspondence between Dwiggins and Jacobs regarding the interior typography of Faust. The only clues to Dwiggins’ thinking lie in the specs on the tissues and the annotations to the proofs. (E.g. on the tissue for the “Walpurgis Night’s Dream” page, Dwiggins writes, “I think we are justified in breaking style in these special cases” regarding a change in indents.)  Instead, the bulk of the correspondence between the two men centers on the design of the jacket and the binding.
Jacket and Binding
The earliest dated galley proofs for Faust are May 22, 1941. A week later Priest had given his assent to Dwiggins’ typographic approach to the text. Meanwhile Dwiggins was beginning to think about the binding and jacket designs for the book. He sent off artwork for the latter on June 9, telling Jacobs that, “This Faust jacket looks more complicated than it really is.”  The calligraphy for Goethe’s name was reused from the title page. But everything else, including Faust was freshly lettered. The quotation from Thomas Mann lauding Priest’s translation was loosely comped with a note to set it in Bulmer. Dwiggins told Jacobs that he planned to have the jacket printed in black and vermilion but that he was willing to listen to other color ideas. There were none—Jacobs was “completely out of superlatives” to describe the jacket design. 
Dwiggins completed the binding design less than a week later. Jacobs thought the design was “wonderful and grand …again there is nothing I can do but repeat my wild superlatives.” To which Dwiggins replied: “The only way to save yourself trouble in this situation is to have some kind of form letter printed up.” 
The binding spine repeats the jacket spine which had different lettering by Dwiggins for everything (including Faust in textura instead of roman). It is fairly staid. However, the binding front design, is mysterious: a heptagon surrounding a hexagram which is intersected by a circle and has another circle at its center; the whole with various symbols and characters interspersed about it. The entire design has a magical or alchemical appearance. Jacobs was not the only one who liked it. So too did Alfred Knopf and Priest. Knopf told Dwiggins that Priest wanted to know what the complex design meant.  In response Dwiggins provided a negative photostat (reversed below) of an annotated rubbing of it.
The design represents a hodgepodge of influences. About the heptagon Dwiggins wrote, “‘The Seven’—always big magic.” He labeled the hexagram as “Solomon’s star”; and identified the planetary symbols on the perimeter, reading clockwise from the top, as Jupiter, Earth, Mercury, Mars, Venus, and the Sun. He took the calligraphic characters between the heptagon and the hexagram from “an unknown script from an Athalinthian seal”. Of the letters within the circle and interstices of the hexagram, he said, “I had some scheme for these mysterious letters but I swear I cant [sic] remember what it was.” Finally, he explained the interlocking letters at the heart of the design as a “device stolen from one of Abbey’s illustrations for the ‘The Tempest’—in Prospero’s cave: himself doing heavy magic, and this sign on the wall. Druid? Abbey was usually pretty sure about such details but I don’t know what it means.” 
Dwiggins has mashed together a variety of signs and symbols associated with magic, alchemy, freemasonry, the kabbala, and astrology. The heptagon is a nod to both the seven planets known to early alchemists and the seven alchemical substances (fire, water, air, earth, sulphur, salt and mercury). Solomon’s Star, better known as Solomon’s Seal, is a Masonic symbol. The planetary symbols are used in astrology—but Dwiggins’ rendering of several of them are unusual. Instead of a circumpunct for the Sun he has a circle with radiating lines; instead of the circle crossed by meridian lines for Earth he has the older symbol of an orb surmounted by a cross; his sign for Venus has sprouting strokes atop the circle instead of upward horns; and his sign for Jupiter is completely perplexing. The orientation of the Roman capitals within the circle is unclear—as is the starting point, if they spell out a word or phrase. Of course, the Athalinian script is wholly fictitious. 
The source for the monogram-like symbol at the center of the entire design comes, as Dwiggins indicated, from an Edwin Abbey illustration for The Tempest in The Comedies of William Shakespeare (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896) (vol. I).  Entitled “The Banquet,” it depicts Prospero standing on a ledge in a cave observing a meal being served. The symbol appears below his feet on the side of the ledge. Dwiggins had been introduced to Abbey (1852–1911) during his Chicago art school days by his illustration teacher Frank Holme, but it is unknown whether he specifically saw “The Banquet” then.
The positive reaction that Dwiggins’ design—from jacket to colophon—for Faust, Parts One and Two elicited from Knopf, Jacobs, and Priest was echoed by the book community when the American Institute of Graphic arts chose it as one of their Fifty Books of the Year.
Instead of the usual Knopf “Note on the Type in Which This Book Is Set,” Faust has a “Printer’s Note.” Although it was written by Dwiggins, it contains no special insights into the typographic design of the text. 
1. W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 19 March 1941 in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas. A copy of the letter is also in Folder 1, Box 2.
2. Exactly why Dwiggins was worried about interference from Priest in the typography of Faust is unclear as there are no documents in the Knopf archives indicating any problems. George Madison Priest was the Jena Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature at Princeton University. He had translated Faust nearly a decade earlier for a 1932 edition published by Covici, Friede. Perhaps Dwiggins was remembering the difficulties involved with Jacques LeClercq, the translator of Gargantua and Pantagruel (New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1936), though those were between LeClercq and George Macy; or he was thinking about his pamphlet A Technique for Dealing with Artists (New York: Press of the Woolly Whale, 1941) which he was competing at the time.
3. W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 19 March 1941 in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas. Dwiggins was intimately familiar with Rogers’ typographic scheme for the LEC Shakespeare series because he had contributed illustrations to The Taming of the Shrew.
4. Priest told Jacobs he was willing to leave the typography up to Dwiggins. See Sidney R. Jacobs to W.A. Dwiggins 29 May 1941 in Folder 7, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas.
5. These tissues and proofs are in Folder 1, Box 734, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas. They are only a sample of the many tissues Dwiggins made to figure out the typography of Faust.
6. Faust, Parts One and Two by Johann Wolfgang Goethe; translated by George Madison Priest (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1941). The book is Agner 41.10. See The Books of WAD: A Bibliography of the Books Designed by W.A. Dwiggins by Dwight Agner (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Press of the Nightowl, 1974). Dwiggins was responsible for the jacket, binding, and typography. Faust was set in Linotype Caledonia (a typeface Dwiggins designed two years earlier for Mergenthaler Linotype). It was printed and bound by the Plimpton Press. The book was chosen as one of the Fifty Books of the year for 1941 by the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
7. At the left side of the “Walpurgis Night’s Dream” tissue there is this note: “Started new page here at end of Intermezzo as per Mr. [Sidney R.] Jacobs’ marks on Faust gals. [galleys] JLL”. The initials are those of John L. “Jack” Ladd (1893–??), production manager of the composing room at the Plimpton Press.
8. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 27 May  and 9 June  in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas.
9. Sidney R. Jacobs to W.A. Dwiggins 11 June 1941 in Box 66, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
10. Sidney R. Jacobs to W.A. Dwiggins 16 June 1941 with Dwiggins’ response postmarked 19 June 1941 in Folder 7, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas.
11. Alfred A. Knopf to W.A. Dwiggins 6 October 1941 in Folder 7, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas. Priest’s comments about the binding design were relayed to Dwiggins by Knopf.
12. The negative photostat is in Folder 3, Box 733, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas. The rubbing of the front binding design is on the right of the negative photostat.
13. On the left of the negative photostat is the title page for the unpublished Siriling and seven other Tales of Athalinthia told in the English Tongue by W.A. Dwiggins (1928) which bears the seal “with an unknown script”. “…SIRILLING [sic] is that project that I sent to AAK, who sent it back as no good for the list. George Macy (as usual) is going to publish it in sumptuous form… if both he and I live long enough!…” See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs n.d. [received 28 November 1941] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas. For more on Sirilling [sic] and the Athalinthia stories see Athalinthia by Bruce Kennett (forthcoming 2022).
14. Plate 33—The Banquet (The Tempest act iii, scene ii) in The Comedies of William Shakespeare with Many Illustrations by Edwin Abbey (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896) (vol. I). It is located between pp. 256 and 257.
15. The text is in Folder 2, Box 733, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities, University of Texas.