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. 714—The 23rd Psalm

At the end of The Definitive Dwiggins no. 179, dedicated to two editions of The Ninety-First Psalm, I wrote that:

…Dwiggins struggled to sell his copies. Bartlett must have also had difficulty selling his edition since copies were still available for sale nine years later. Maybe the two men should have published The Twenty-Third Psalm instead.

The last line was an oblique reference to a November 11, 1909 entry in Dwiggins’ workbook regarding unspecified work on a “23rd Psalm booklet” for “AB …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 165 second addendum—Oswald Cooper, Buckeye Covers, and Mrs. Kendall Banning

The Buckeye “Dummy” Covers insert page by Beckett Paper Co. in Direct Advertising vol. IV, no. 3 (1917).
Several months after posting the addendum to The Definitive Dwiggins no. 165 I was in Chicago for the Type Chicago conference. While there I did some digging into two Oswald Cooper archives and found two items relevant to the addendum: artwork for Buckeye Covers and a brochure for a recital by Mrs. Kendall Banning. [1]
The artwork for “Buckeye Covers” (below) matches …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 179—The Ninety-first Psalm

This post is part of a trio concerning handwritten booklets that W.A. Dwiggins created between 19o5 and 1913. For the other two see The Definitive Dwiggins no. 133 The Parable of the Prodigal Son and The Definitive Dwiggins no. 713 A Description of Christ.

Daniel Berkeley Updike of The Merrymount Press wrote to W.A. Dwiggins on July 5, 1906 asking him for a copy of the “Psalm,” saying that “I may be able to get you a little bit of …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 133—The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Cover of The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Boston: Alfred bartlett, 1905). Design, lettering, and printing by W.A. Dwiggins. Image courtesy of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University.
“I caught Dwiggins yesterday printing a book that he had handlettered and was going to sel [sic] himself, and I stopped him and am going to publish it myself. ” Alfred Bartlett (1870–1926) wrote to his friend Edwin O. Grover (1870–1965) on November 11, 1905. “It is the Parable …
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Photographs of Wilhelm-Klingspor-Schrift foundry type

Over a decade ago I posted a brief shout out to Wilhelm-Klingspor-Schrift, the brilliant blackletter typeface designed by Rudolf Koch (1876–1934). Michael Babcock of Interrobang Press in the Boston suburbs is the lucky owner of the typeface as originally cast by the Schriftgiesserei Gebruder Klingspor in Offenbach, Germany. At my request, he took some photographs of it in a forme. Here are some of them (with my cropping). The true beauty of this typeface really comes through when …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 713—A Description of Christ

The Letter of Publius Lentulus (also known as The Epistle of Publius Lentulus) is a report from “Publius Lentulus, Proconsul of Judea to the Senate of Rome” describing the appearance and temperament of Jesus Christ. The text was discovered in 1421 by Giacomo Colonna. Although denounced as a fraud by the humanist scholar Lorenzo Valla in the 1440s and commonly labeled as spurious or a forgery by religious scholars and leaders over the course of the succeeding five centuries, its account …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 712—Illustrations of Rome and Venice

Three illustrations of sites in Rome—fragments of the Acqua Claudia, a detail of the Lateran Cloister, and a rustic view of the Colosseum—by W.A. Dwiggins exist in the Carl Purington Rollins Papers at Yale University. The first two illustrations were created for the title pages of the two volumes of Eternal Rome by Grant Showerman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924). Dwiggins’ original pen-and-ink artwork for both of them has survived. [1] For the third illustration, there is only a …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 87 addendum—The Drab Doroone

“Extra-Wild Animals of the Faraway-Land of Lurg: The Drab Doroone” by Hermann and Jacob Püterschein. Original artwork by Hermann Püterschein [W.A. Dwiggins] 1914. Image courtesy of Special Collections, the Boston Public Library.
The Definitive Dwiggins no. 87 was devoted to W.A. Dwiggins’ association with publisher L.A. Rankin and Happyland magazine. For the magazine Dwiggins and his cousin Laurance B. Siegfried collaborated (as the brothers Hermann and Jacob Püterschein) on a brief series of illustrated verse entitled “Extra-Wild Animals of the Faraway-Land of …
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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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