The Definitive Dwiggins no. 438—Book jackets for Alfred A. Knopf [Part Two: 1936–1941] continued
W.A. Dwiggins contributed designs to 328 books published by Alfred A. Knopf according to Dwight Agner, author of The Books of WAD: A Bibliography of the Books Designed by W.A. Dwiggins (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Press of the Nightowl, 1974). I use the phrase “contributed” because he did not design all of these books in the conventional understanding of the term. Agner’s list includes books where Dwiggins was responsible for: 1. the typography, binding, and jacket; 2. the typography and binding; 3. the binding only; and 4. the title page only. By his count Dwiggins designed jackets for only 43 books: nine between 1926 and 1935; twenty-three between 1936 and 1941; ten between 1942 and 1949; and 1 from 1950 to 1956. 
This post is the third in a multi-part survey of Dwiggins’ jackets for Knopf which will go beyond Agner’s enumeration to also look at jackets partially designed by him, jackets containing elements originally designed by him for other purposes (e.g. bindings or title pages), and jackets that were planned by him but not carried out. The jackets are listed in rough chronological order. 
The Heady Years 1936–1941 continued
Without a doubt 1936 and 1937 were the peak years of Dwiggins’ work as a jacket designer. His production began to slack off in 1938. Yet he managed to create several striking jackets during that year and the three that followed. In the fall of 1941 Dwiggins convinced Knopf to try a standardized billboard or playbill approach to jackets. This led to a burst of activity on his part for jackets that adorned books that were not published until 1942.  This brief period of fecundity came to an abrupt end with America’s entrance into World War II and the imposition of restrictions on materials.
The New Deal in Old Rome: How Government in the Ancient World Tried to Deal with Modern Problems by H.J. Haskell [Agner 38.05]
See The Definitive Dwiggins no. 369 for details on Dwiggins’ work on The New Deal in Old Rome. In evaluating the jacket he said, “It is a poster after all—an eye-catcher[.]”  He was clearly referring to the front since the spine—a collection of clichéd Roman motifs with the title and author set in Frederic W. Goudy’s Kennerley Oldstyle typeface—is quite dull. The front is nowhere as startling as the best of Dwiggins 1936–1937 jackets such as Not Under Forty or Serenade, but the Rustic lettering for the title and author’s name is unusual and the wine red ground is certainly eye-catching. The conservative nature of the jacket fits the content.
• •. •
I Should Have Stayed Home by Horace McCoy [Agner 38.08]
Dwiggins designed the interior and binding for I Should Have Stayed Home and apparently he was going to do the jacket as well. A color comp survives, but George Salter (1897–1967) executed the final jacket. There is no discussion of the jacket in Dwiggins’ correspondence with Jacobs, so there is no explanation for why his design was abandoned. Perhaps the sales department rejected it as too staid, without the pizzazz expected of a novella about “two jobless roommates desperate to become Hollywood stars” whose dreams end in corruption, theft, prostitution and suicide.  Dwiggins’ comp has a frame suggestive of a classic movie theatre proscenium with the title roughed out in oldstyle roman letters and the author in italic. The only glitz is the exuberant abstract ornamental border for the borzoi cartouche. The colors—red and black on tan—are equally tone deaf. Yet, Salter’s jacket—clumsy calligraphy reversed out of burgundy and Prussian blue—is even plainer and farther removed from the book’s story. 
• •. •
Run Masked by Robb White [Agner 38.16]
Along with doing the typography and binding design for Run Masked, Dwiggins made five comps for the jacket, one in pen-and-ink and four in color.  None of them were used and there is no explanation in the correspondence between him and Jacobs as to why. Dwiggins’ comps apparently failed to appeal to the Knopf sales force, even though they run a stylistic gamut from the wild, abstract and colorful ornamental design of Not Under Forty to the sobriety of Early Americana. But the one thing they are not is pictorial or illustrative. The published jacket, designed by Miguel Covarrubias (1904–1957), is both literal and evocative.
Kirkus Reviews described Run Masked this way:
First rate yarn against the most realistic Caribbean background I have found in fiction or travel books. One can see and feel and hear and smell the place, an island placed near Dominica. And the story takes place on the day of the year when carnival prevails, and the tiny handful of whites, dregs of society, British officialdom, planters, rub elbows with the seething native population of blacks, dangerously close to the primitive with too thin a veneer of civilization to hold up against the coming to a head of drama on that day. 
It is unclear in what sequence Dwiggins made the comps, though there are two distinct possibilities.  The first is that he began by making jackets (comps 4 and 5) that emphasized the book’s exotic locale, using his stencils to suggest a tropical environment. Then, getting negative feedback from the sales department about the abstract stencil designs, he began to rein himself in and made comps 1 to 3 in that order. The second possibility is an inversion of the first in which Dwiggins began with comp no. 3—possibly before reading an abstract of the book—and then worked up to the exuberant comps 4 and 5 when the sales department found the first three too dull. I think the first scenario is the more likely one.
One interesting feature of comps 3 and 5 is Dwiggins’ integration of the Borzoi dog into the designs. It suggests that they were done sequentially. The designs are reminiscent of the one he made for the title page of The Borzoi Reader (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936) which was reused on the cover of “Some Borzoi Books Published 1927–1937” inserted into The Annual of Bookmaking (New York: The Colophon, 1938).
All of the designs, except for no. 2, provide insight into the process Dwiggins followed in developing his stencil decorations. He roughed out an idea for a design in pencil and then painted it over in color, making adjustments as he went. Thus, he did not build his decorations from existing stencil elements, but instead envisioned a design and then completed them using existing elements, making new ones as needed, and also fine-tuning the whole ensemble with additional black ink or white paint. Unfortunately, these designs never reached fruition so we’ll never know how Dwiggins might have altered them.
• •. •
The Barly Fields: A Collection of Five Novels by Robert Nathan [Agner 38.11]
Although Agner credits Dwiggins with the jacket for The Barly Fields I am confident that it is a derivative design.  There is no documentation of it in the Knopf archives. The banner with tassels on the spine has been adapted from the one on the spine of The Borzoi Reader jacket. It now has four lines instead of three. The wavy design on the front also comes from The Borzoi Reader with the stencil ornament at the upper left being moved to the lower left. The lettering for Nathan’s name and the subtitle mimic Dwiggins’ lettering styles, though neither copy The Borzoi Reader lettering. But the title lettering is not something Dwiggins would have done. The script is too polished. Dwiggins always based his script on his handwriting and consequently it was full of quirks (e.g. “Knopf” on the spine of The Borzoi Reader jacket or the script on The Old Man’s Coming and The Charlatanry of the Learned jackets). The lettering was most likely done by Sam Bass.
• •. •
First-Class Passenger: Life at Sea as Experienced and Recorded by Voyaging Landlubbers of the Past ed. by August Mencken [Agner 38.09]
Dwiggins did not design the jacket for First-Class Passenger, but he told Jacobs it was “bully”.  The jacket has an illustration of sailing ships, steamships, and comic spouting whales with the book’s title hand-lettered in a frame resembling a luggage label and the author’s name plastered on a buoy. It is not the sort of design that Dwiggins was willing to do, but it is one that seemed to appreciate as appropriate to the book’s tone and content.
Napoleon in Review by George Gordon Andrews [Agner 39.01]
“I hope my mildly Maya ornament may not displease,” Dwiggins wrote to Sidney R. Jacobs in February 1939 in regard to his binding design for In American: The Collected Poems of John V.A. Weaver. In the same letter he offered to do the jacket for Napoleon in Review for free if he was paid $50 for the In American binding.  Jacobs accepted the offer. “It makes a good poster, doesn’t it?” was Dwiggins’ assessment of his design. 
Dwiggins extrapolated the jacket design from his binding design for the book, a common process for him. He took the array of seven bees and elaborated the decorative frame, interposing a simple one between the two elements and then adding two more ornate decorative elements at top and bottom. With the luxury of printing on paper rather than stamping on cloth, he changed the single color binding design to a two-color (blue and red) one. He lettered the title (and the spine) but set the rest of the front text in type (Garamond No. 3 from Mergenthaler Linotype).
• •. •
Henry, King of France by Heinrich Mann.
The jacket for Henry, King of France is copied from the one Dwiggins did for Heinrich Mann’s previous novel, Young Henry of Navarre in 1937. The new lettering is similar to that of Young Henry of Navarre, but it has sharper serifs, an indication that it was not done by Dwiggins. It was probably the work of Sam Bass, one of Jacobs’ trusted New York City lettering artists and someone who Dwiggins was comfortable with imitating him.
• •. •
Mars in the House of Death by Rex Ingram [Agner 39.06]
I have already discussed Dwiggins’ jacket for Mars in the House of Death in The Definitive Dwiggins no. 420. It marks a return to the aggressive designs he was doing in 1936 and 1937—though the color combination of black, red, and gold is more conservative than those for Not Under Forty, The Sea of Grass, Zest for Life, and Serenade. The bold design is much more poster-like than any of the jackets which Dwiggins described as functioning like posters (e.g. Napoleon in Review). It is a full bleed with the text set into various angled bands and snippets of bands in a collage-like manner. It is an astonishing design with no precedent or parallel in Dwiggins’ work.
• •. •
Zones of International Friction: North America South of the Great Lakes Region by Lawrence Henry Gipson [Agner 39.05]
Dwiggins designed the jacket format for the fourth volume in Lawrence Henry Gipson’s series collectively titled The British Empire before the American Revolution (15 volumes between 1936 and 1970), but did not execute the complete design.  (It was the first one published by Knopf.) Unfortunately, I don’t have an image of it, only of volume XI. Dwiggins provided the two unfurling banners, but nothing else. The lettering for the various volumes was carried out by someone else. It was not Sam Bass or Frank Conley.
• •. •
San Francisco’s Literary Frontier by Franklin Walker
Dwiggins made a colored pencil rough for the jacket for San Francisco’s Literary Frontier. On it he asked Jacobs, “How about this?”  For the design Dwiggins reused the decorative frame he had created for The American Language (4th edition) in 1936. He also repeated that book’s spine design. Jacobs must have assented since the printed jacket follows the rough very closely—but Dwiggins did not execute it. The lettering is not by him, even though some of it has Dwiggins qualities. The letterspacing of “Literary Frontier” is too loose and the size of the letters too small; and the author’s name is very different from the type of oldstyle roman capitals Dwiggins commonly employed (e.g. the large bowl of the R in “Franklin”). Given the flaws in the lettering I doubt it is the work of Sam Bass. The spine text is set in Linotype Caslon with “Literary Frontier” too loosely spaced again.
This jacket mock-up for Salamandi by A.S. Wainwright is a mystery.  There is no such title published by Knopf nor such an author. And there is no mention of the book in the correspondence between Dwiggins and Knopf. The comp is undated, but based on the stencil-style ornament on the front I think it must have been done between 1936 and 1938.
Mark Twain’s Travels with Mr. Brown by Mark Twain, pseud. [Samuel Clemens] edited by Franklin Walker and G. Ezra Dane [Agner 40.02]
In April 1940 Dwiggins repeated his earlier desire to only do jackets for Knopf if the publisher insisted—and paid him handsomely.
On Shelley, Crane, Mark Twain—do you mean that you contemplate paying my exorbitant charge, 100 smackers, for these covers?…I have expressed myself as largely off covers and jackets. You have mentioned covers and jackets and I have let your instructions about those items pass without comment (through inertia or overwork!) when I should have taken the matter up with you. I’ll make ’em, if you say, of course, covers 100, jackets say 125. But if my delay, and my fee, lead you to go elsewhere, I shan’t sue for violation of contract. 
Jacobs did not insist that Dwiggins do the jackets for any of the books mentioned—Shelley by Ivey Newman White, Stephen Crane: Twenty Stories, and Mark Twain’s Travels with Mr. Brown—but he did want him to do the bindings along with the typography. Regarding the binding for the Twain, Dwiggins wrote, “Having sweated through the drawing, I am in doubt, at the end, whether you will care to cut such an elaborate scheme. You will see that my shelfback is not a copy of any 1860 design, but an attempt to get the same peppered-over-with gold effect that the ‘elegant’ 1860 books had[.]” 
His binding design has a spine sporting several elaborate decorations including three frames containing a clipper ship, a locomotive, and a horse-drawn carriage—all stamped in gold on pine green cloth. The lettering by Dwiggins is a perfect imitation of the typefaces popular in the 1860s.
Although Dwiggins did not do the jacket for Mark Twain’s Travels with Mr. Brown, he heartily approved of it.  The uncredited design by George Hornby (1912–1990) carried through the period approach that Dwiggins had taken with the interior typography and the binding spine.
• •. •
Happy Days, 1880–1892 by H.L. Mencken [Agner 40.07]
“And what a beautiful job Dwiggins has done in designing book and wrapper!” proclaimed a Knopf advertisement in Publishers’ Weekly.  The book in question was Happy Days 1880–1892, the first in a trilogy of memoirs by H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). Dwiggins’ jacket design was, in his view, “a whiz”.  Like Mark Twain’s Travels with Mr. Brown, the jacket is a period piece, this time evoking the Artistic Printing movement of the 1870s and 1880s.
The design was an in-joke between Dwiggins and Mencken, who were of the same age. “Nobody in your crowd is old enough to get the true inwardness of this design for The Happy Days jacket, but I think Mencken might,” Dwiggins explained to Jacobs, “This kind of thing, in the great days of ’85, would be in coffee-brown and olive-green and Pompeian red, very dull and dismal, but for our purpose I think it will work in strong primaries.” 
Dwiggins’ design deftly blends three common elements of the Artistic printing movement: the folded ribbon, fan, and trompe-l’oeil calling card. His lettering—a combination of Modern and Tuscan types—echoes an earlier moment in the 19th century, but many artistic printers used such “out-of-date” faces.
Newspaper Days, 1899–1906 by H.L. Mencken [Agner 41.14]
Surprisingly, Dwiggins did not design the jackets for the other two books in the Mencken trilogy, Newspaper Days, 1899–1906 (1941) and Heathen Days, 1890–1936 (1943), although he did offer a suggestion for the former: “For jacket, why not an offset from a newspaper for background, with a label cut in?”  It was ignored. The printed jacket, designed by George Salter, has three small illustrations, only one of which—a man seated at an office desk—might be related to newspapers. Regarding the jacket, Dwiggins wrote to Jacob, “I didn’t get a terrific kick out of it, but that means less than nothing!” 
• •. •
Hanna, Crane, and The Mauve Decade by Thomas Beer [Agner 41.01]
“Just what is mauve?” Dwiggins asked Jacobs, attaching a 3¢ stamp and matching paint swatch to his letter.  The jacket for Hanna, Crane, and The Mauve Decade has two shades of purple, neither of which look like mauve. Dwiggins’ design is pedestrian, only identifiable as his by the lettering of the title.
• •. •
Backbone of the Herring by Curtis Bok [Agner 41.03]
“Will the sales-force stand for this scheme for Herring’s jacket? or are they wedded to the Nazi modernist stuff for all occasions?” Dwiggins asked Jacobs in June 1941.  He explained that he has used the Isle of Man oath as the jacket’s key element, rendered in “Law Blackletter of an English cast”; and that he expected the author to object to his illustration. Anticipating the latter, he had prepared a set of responses:
1. The decoration is not a picture of C[.] of Com. P[.] No[.] 6. [Court of Common Pleas No. 6] It is any American Common Pleas set up—at any rate it is the way a Mass. Com. P. Court looks, as I know from sitting in the jury box and looking at the Judge, Witness, etc. in a string of cases. 2. High spot of the scene is the Judge: top of the court, not the Witness or the Attorney. 3. The artist does not conceive that the Isle of Man oath is being administered to the Witness[.] The oath is the thing behind the Judge and the Court[.] 
Dwiggins then added, “Your own objection will be that the thing is ‘old-fashioned’…I wonder if something old-fashioned—at this particular time—might not be pleasant, as a change, to the Great American Public?”  Some changes to his design were requested by Judge Bok, though what they were is unknown. But they must have been relatively minor since Dwiggins asked Jacobs to have someone in New York carry them out following his instructions.  He was pleased with the jacket as printed, saying it “…would make a visible spot on the tables I think, a good change from the usual.” 
Dwiggins’ instinct must have been right since Knopf (and Judge Bok) reused his basic design for the jackets of two subsequent novels: I Too, Nicodemus in 1946 and Star Wormwood in 1959. (The latter was published three years after Dwiggins’ death.) For I Too, Nicodemus Cloister Italic (Morris Fuller Benton, American Type Founders, 1913) was substituted for the title and Lucian Bold (Lucian Bernhard, Bauer, 1925) for the blurb in the former position of the Isle of Man oath. The result is a visual mess. The adaptation of Dwiggins’ design for Star Wormwood is more sensitive with the blurb set in Bulmer Italic (Morris Fuller Benton, American Type Founders, 1928), a favorite typeface of his, and the title lettered in a close approximation of his lettering for Bok’s name. Dwiggins’ herringbone pattern on the spine has been elongated. Both jackets changed the color combination from the original black and brown on tan to black and spring green on gray for I Too, Nicodemus and violet and blue on lemon yellow for Star Wormwood.
It should be noted that Dwiggins embedded a visual pun in the jacket design of The Backbone of the Herring by placing the herringbone pattern on the spine of the book.
• •. •
The Struggle for Judicial Supremacy: A Study of a Crisis in American Power Politics by Robert H. Jackson [Agner 41.11]
Agner lists Dwiggins as the designer of the jacket for The Struggle for Judicial Supremacy, but it is not included in a list of Dwiggins books prepared by Jacobs.  I have been unable to find a copy of the jacket to make my own assessment.
• •. •
Faust, Parts One and Two by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [Agner 41.10]
Faust, Parts One and Two, the final title included in this survey of Dwiggins’ jackets for Knopf between 1938 and 1941, is one of his best during this stretch of time. I have already discussed it in The Definitive Dwiggins no. 445.
• •. •
There is one other Dwiggins jacket for a book published in 1941. It is The Wookey: A Play by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan. I am not including it in this post because it belongs to a group of “playbill” jackets that Dwiggins designed in 1941 that were published the following year. Those jackets are the subject of The Definitive Dwiggins no. 437.
1. Although Agner’s bibliography has become a standard one—and I refer to it often in my posts—it is both incomplete and inconsistent. I have been compiling a more comprehensive and more accurate bibliography for over 20 years and will eventually make it part of The Definitive Dwiggins series of posts.
2. Dwiggins often worked on multiple books at one time for Knopf, so determining a precise chronological order is impossible. I am listing them based on available correspondence relating to their designs.
3. Although the titles will be listed here, Dwiggins’ 1941–1942 playbill jackets will be the subject of a separate post.
4. See Dwiggins’ note on a color swatch in Folder 3, Box 734, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
5. This summary is paraphrased from descriptions of I Should have Stayed Home on Amazon and Good Reads websites.
6. A facsimile of Salter’s jacket can be seen at Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Over the next eighteen years, Salter went on to create the jackets for many of the books whose interiors and bindings Dwiggins designed.
7. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 3 February  in Folder 12, Box 731, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
8. The comps are in Folder 3, Box 733, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
9. Kirkus Reviews (March 14, 1938)
10. My numbering of the comps is based on the order in which they appear in the Knopf archives (see note 8 above).
11. Bruce Kennett also incorrectly credits the jacket to Dwiggins. See W.A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design by Bruce Kennett (San Francisco: Letterform Archive, 2017), p. 292.
12. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 6 February 1939 in Folder 1, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas. Dwiggins’ surviving account books are sketchy for the years 1933 to 1941. There is no record of him being paid for work on Napoleon in Review even though he also did the typography and binding design for the book.
13. W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 9 February 1938 in Knopf folder, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.
14. Dwight Agner incorrectly credits Dwiggins with the complete jacket design. 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), entry 39.05.
15. See Folder 15, Box 733, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
16. See Folder 11, Box 426, Vertical Files, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
17. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs n.d. [received 26 April 1940] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
18. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs n.d. [probably 2 September 1940] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
19. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 12 September 1940 in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas. In the letter Dwiggins mentions Hornby as the jacket designer.
20. Publishers’ Weekly vol. 136 (October–December 1939), p. 1826.
21. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 21 October 1939 in Folder 1, Box 732, Folder 1, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
22. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 9 October  in Folder 1, Box 732, Folder 1, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas. Dwiggins and Mencken were exact contemporaries: both were born in 1880 and died in 1956.
23. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 11 April  in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
24. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs n.d. [with note 20 June 1941] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
25. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs “Wednesday” [after May 1941] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
26. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs n.d. [23 June 1941] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
27. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs n.d. [23 June 1941] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
28. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs n.d. [23 June 1941] in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
29. See W.A. Dwiggins to Sidney R. Jacobs 2 July  in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
30. See the note by W.A. Dwiggins on a proof in Folder 2, Box 732, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Papers, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.
31. See “Books Designed by WAD for Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Published 1926-1956” (15 pp. carbon typescript) in Folder 23, Box 100, 1974 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library.