Detail of title for typographic calendar published by PM Typographers in 1984. Designed by Tony DiSpigna.

Palermo roman and italic typefaces cut by Giambattista Bodoni. From his 1788 Manuale Tipografico.

Detail from the Mausoleo Ossario Garibaldino (1941), a Fascist monument erected to honor the dead of the battles between 1849 and 1870 to liberate Rome from the control of the Papal States. Designed by Giovanni Jacobucci.

Detail from business card from John Baxter & Son, Edinburgh printers. An example of Artistic Printing (1893).

Detail from bauhaus dessau im gewerbemuseum basel exhibition poster (1929). Designed by Franz Ehrlich after a sketch by Joost Schmidt.

Blue Pencil

Blue Pencil is a “slog”: a slow blog. It does not get updated daily or even on a regular schedule. Instead, it gets updated when there is something of value to be posted. Postings often take a long time to prepare and appear at intervals of a few weeks or even months. Sometimes there is a flurry of postings within the span of a few days. Blue Pencil may be unpredictable in its frequency, but not in its purpose. Blue Pencil is fiercely dedicated to the 3Rs: research, reading and writing.

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 369—The New Deal in Old Rome (1939) and This Was Cicero (1942)

Jacket front and spine for The New Deal in Old Rome by H.J. Haskell (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939). Design, lettering, illustration, and decoration by W.A. Dwiggins.
The New Deal in Old Rome
Henry Joseph “Harry” Haskell (1874–1952) was the editor of the Kansas City Star from 1928 to 1952. He was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. As H.J. Haskell he was the author of two books designed by W.A. Dwiggins: The New Deal in Old Rome: How Government …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 368—The Roosevelt Omnibus (1934)

“A great democratic victory; are you a democrat? do you believe in the great heart of the common people? do you want to see all that fine structure, the bootleg business, thrown into the scrap-heap? after years of careful work building it?” These questions were lobbed in 1932 by W.A. Dwiggins at C.H. Griffith (1879–1956), vice-president of typographical development at Mergenthaler Linotype. He went on to declare, “A great democratic victory (I am a communist, really, though I voted straight Repub.)” …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 420—Mars in the House of Death (1939)

According to its back jacket flap copy, Rex Ingram (1892-1950), the author of Mars in the House of Death, was a dockworker, assistant to sculptor Lee Lawrie, silent film director, and movie studio owner before becoming a novelist. [1] The novel, Ingram’s first (and only one), is about a bullfighter and his tragic romances. Kirkus Reviews called it a “romance of the Gothic-impossible variety”. [2] W.A. Dwiggins designed the book for Alfred A. Knopf from jacket to colophon. [3]
Jacket (spine …
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Blue Pencil no. 47—Hanging Hitler

Cover of War Production Drive: Official Plan Book by War Production Board (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1942).
“Get Straight on This War” from War Production Drive: Official Plan Book by War Production Board (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1942), p. 4
I was looking for information on paper restrictions during World War II in the United States when I stumbled across this pamphlet entitled War Production Drive: Official Plan Book published by the War Production Board (WPB). The WPB was established January …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 365—Voyages to Vinland (1942)

Voyages to Vinland: The First American Saga translated by Einar Haugen (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1942) includes translations of material from Hauk’s Book, the Flatey Book, and AM. 557 (a manuscript in the Arnamagnean Library in Copenhagen) that concern the Viking voyages to the eastern seaboard of the North American continent in the 11th century. [1] The book was designed by W.A. Dwiggins. It is not among his most famous works in the field, though its jacket is included …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 421—Tsushima (1937)

Tsushima by A. Novikoff-Priboy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1937) is an account of The Battle of Tsushima (May 27–29, 1905) in the Japanese Sea during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. The Japanese fleet completely destroyed the Russian fleet in what has been called “naval history’s first decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets”. It has been characterized as the “dying echo of the old era—for the last time in the history of naval warfare, ships of the …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 300—W.A. Dwiggins meets Alfred A. Knopf

Supposedly one of the pivotal moments in the career of W. A. Dwiggins was his meeting with the New York publisher Alfred A. Knopf in 1923. I say “supposedly” because I don’t think the meeting had a monumental impact on either Dwiggins’ career or the development of Knopf’s books as has been widely proclaimed. The circumstances of the meeting itself are murky as three different people have been put forth as the interlocutor between Dwiggins and Knopf.
C. Chester Lane or …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 331—Ginn & Co. 1905–1919

One of the first clients that W.A. Dwiggins had after he left The Village Press and struck out on his own was the Boston educational publisher Ginn and Company. One job he did for them may be his first freelance commission after his move East from Ohio since it predates his surviving account books. It is the cover (back and front) of Spelling Lessons by Aaron Gove (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1905). [1] His familiar WAD signature appears in the …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 115—Ginn and Ancient Rome (addendum)

The source for Dwiggins’ illustration of a Templum in Collar and Daniell’s First Year Latin is obviously the Roman Temple at Nîmes, France, popularly called the Maison Carrée. But what did he use as a model for his drawing? A photograph or an existing illustration? There are numerous views of the temple from the northwest as paintings, drawings, engravings, lithographs, and photographs. [1] But none of them have his flattened pediment and missing roof. The closest example that I have …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 293—Textbooks in the 1920s (Part I): Open Doors to Science

In the mid-1920s, as he was trying to shift his career from advertising design to book design, W.A. Dwiggins found himself still contributing to textbooks, something which he might have felt was in his past. For Ginn and Company, a client he had worked with sporadically since 1905, he contributed illustrations to two books: Open Doors to Science with Experiments by Otis Caldwell and W.H.D. Meier (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926) and How the Old World Found the New by Eunice …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 703E—How the Old World Found the New: Champlain and La Salle

This is the fifth (and last) installment of a detailed account of each of the illustrations in How the Old World Found the New that I believe Dwiggins reworked in varying degrees. [1] They are presented in the order in which they appear in the book, preceded by notes on their probable source and, wherever possible, primary and secondary images. This installment covers pages 208 to 231 involving the explorations of Samuel de Champlain and René Robert Cavelier, sieur de …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 703D—How the Old World Found the New: De Leon, De Soto, and Drake

This is the fourth installment of a detailed account of each of the illustrations in How the Old World Found the New that I believe Dwiggins reworked in varying degrees. [1] They are presented in the order in which they appear in the book, preceded by notes on their probable source and, wherever possible, primary and secondary images. This installment covers pages 167 to 205 and the exploits of Sir Francis Drake as well as the Spaniards Ponce de Leon …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 703C—How the Old World Found the New: Cartier, Cortes, Balboa, and Pizzaro

This is the third installment of a detailed account of each of the illustrations in How the Old World Found the New that I believe Dwiggins reworked in varying degrees. [1] They are presented in the order in which they appear in the book, preceded by notes on their probable source and, wherever possible, primary and secondary images. This installment covers pages 121 to 157 which deal with the exploits of Jacques Cartier, Hernando Cortes, Vasco Nuñez da Balboa, …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 703B—How the Old World Found the New: Columbus and Magellan

This is the second installment of a detailed account of each of the illustrations in How the Old World Found the New that I believe Dwiggins reworked in varying degrees. [1] They are presented in the order in which they appear in the book, preceded by notes on their probable source and, wherever possible, primary and secondary images. This installment covers pages 62 to 116 relating to the voyages of Chistopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan.

List of reworked illustrations and …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 703A—How the Old World Found the New: Marco Polo, Prince Henry the Navigator, and Vasco da Gama

This is the first installment of a detailed account of each of the illustrations in How the Old World Found the New that I believe Dwiggins reworked in varying degrees. [1] They are presented in the order in which they appear in the book, preceded by notes on their probable source and, wherever possible, primary and secondary images. This installment covers pages 7 to 59 concerning Marco Polo, Prince Henry the Navigator, and Vasco da Gama.

List of reworked illustrations and …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 702—Textbooks in the 1920s (Part II): How the Old World Found the New

Even as he was trying to shift his career from advertising design to book design, W.A. Dwiggins found himself still contributing to textbooks in the 1920s, something which seemed to have been in his past. For Ginn and Company, a client he had worked with sporadically since 1905, he contributed numerous illustrations to two books: Open Doors to Science with Experiments by Otis Caldwell and William Herman Dietrich Meier (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926) and How the Old World Found the …
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