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. 162—The Scribe

As a student at the Frank Holme School of Illustration in Chicago, W.A. Dwiggins (1880–1956) drew a monk writing at a sloped desk as an assignment in the decorative design class taught by Frederic W. Goudy (1865-1947). The presence of the words “Class of Decorative Design” in a ribbon and “School of Illustration” in a tabula ansata below the drawing suggests it may have been intended for the cover of a (fictional) catalogue for the school. A completed, colorized, and signed …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 33—The Archer

Although he never engaged in archery himself, W.A. Dwiggins (1880–1956) had an enduring interest in archers. The fascination seems to have taken hold when he was in his early 30s as archers are rare in his childhood and adolescent drawings, easily outnumbered by warriors with swords and spears, and soldiers with pistols and rifles. The only one I know of appears at the right in a Medieval battle scene drawn in pencil on a page from his father’s account book. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 161—The New Colophon addendum

Recently Charles Nix kindly sent me an image of lettering that he had received as a gift. He was told that it was by W.A. Dwiggins for The Colophon vol. I, no. 1. In trying to confirm that it was indeed the work of Dwiggins I discovered that it was actually the lettering for title page of The New Colophon vol. II, part 8 (February 1950) rather than for the earlier incarnation of the periodical. The rest of the title …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 198—A Portrait of William Morris

Woodcut portrait of William Morris by W.A. Dwiggins from “The Poetry of William Morris” by Wallace Rice in The Blue Sky: A Monthly Magazine, vol. V, no. 1 (April, 1902). Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arizona.
W.A. Dwiggins (1880–1956) lived in Chicago from the fall of 1899 to the summer of 1903. During that brief time he was initially a student at the Frank Holme School of Illustration and then a studio mate of his mentor Frederic W. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 116—The End of Childhood (1890–1895)

The unexpected death of Moses Dwiggins in January 1890 left his widow Eva, and their young son Willie, adrift in the world. Without her soulmate and source of livelihood, Eva stumbled about for the next five years, trying to achieve a stable life. Willie, only 9 1/2 years old at the time of his father’s death, was old enough to understand his mother’s grief, but too young to be able to do much about it.

This post is the next installment …
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Further Thoughts on Nomenclature of Letterforms

In 2014 I published three posts on the subject of letterform terminology. It is something that continues to be vexing to many people, including myself. Since then I wrote Revival Type: Digital Typefaces Inspired by the Past (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017) with the assistance of Abby Goldstein. For the book she and I created what we consider to be an improved chart for identifying the parts of letters of typefaces. Instead of using a single typeface …
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Blue Pencil no. 42—Revival Type

Revival Type: Digital Typefaces Inspired by the Past by Paul Shaw with Abby Goldstein (New Haven: Yale University Press and London: Thames & Hudson, 2017). Design by Abby Goldstein.
I am not immune from the Blue Pencil treatment. Like every author, I have made mistakes despite my diligence. I am embarrassed by them. Recently, Jerry Kelly, in reviewing Revival Type: Digital Typefaces Inspired by the Past (2017) for Printing History 23 (New Series, Winter 2018) pointed out some errors in the book. All …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 142—The New Colophon

The Colophon was conceived in 1928 but Part 1 was not issued until February 1930. The first series ended with Part 20 in March 1935. It was succeeded by The Colophon New Series which ran from Summer 1935 (vol. 1, no. 1) to December 1938 (vol. 3, no. 4). The third iteration of the journal, titled The Colophon New Graphic Series lasted for four issues from March 1939 to February 1940. At that point, Elmer Adler, its founder …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 141—The Colophon (New Series)

The first iteration of The Colophon: A Book Collectors’ Quarterly came to an end with Part 20 in March 1935. [1] For five years its progenitor Elmer Adler had struggled to establish the journal on a firm financial basis with little success. In order to reduce expenses he reluctantly agreed to replace handset type with machine composition and to change the format from an assemblage of articles produced and printed by different contributors to a standardized design printed by Pynson …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 82—The Colophon (Part V)

In the fall of 1928 W.A. Dwiggins was completing work on the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson for Random House. The printer of the book was Pynson Printers, headed by Elmer Adler (1884–1962). [1] The two men had previously worked together on Nobodaddy: A Play by Archibald MacLeish (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dunster House, 1926) and two editions of My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926). [2] Their professional friendship …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 30—The Architect and the Industrial Arts

Entrance to The Architect and the Industrial Arts exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1929). Design by Joseph Urban. Note the poster by W.A. Dwiggins at right. Image source: Digital Collections, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Richard F. Bach (1887–1968) organized fifteen annual exhibitions of contemporary industrial art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art between 1917 and 1940. [1] With them he attempted to promote good design and good taste in manufactured goods. The annuals displayed examples of good design …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 32—The Architect and the Industrial Arts, continued

There are eighteen stencil ornaments in total by W.A. Dwiggins in the exhibition catalogue for The Architect and the Industrial Arts. [1] However, only eight are original designs. The other ten are either repeats or flopped copies. Six designs are botanical in nature and two are geometrical. All are printed in black, though several have hatched elements to create tone. Printed by letterpress on soft paper, Dwiggins’ original crisp edges have unfortunately been dulled. Here they are, in the order …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 105—Addendum to W.A. Dwiggins’ Ancestry, Part III: Moses and Eva Dwiggins

Five artifacts associated with Moses and Eva Dwiggins survive in the W.A. Dwiggins Collections at the Boston Public Library: two programs for theatrical events, one each involving Moses and Eva, their marriage license, a certificate for Moses as a medical examiner for an insurance company, and a book entitled Living Poems. [1] All are of interest beyond their use as documentation of W.A. Dwiggins’ parents’ lives. [2] They are fascinating for their design and typography which is typical of the …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 108—James Ferguson, the Photograph Swindler

 This post is an addendum to The Definitive Dwiggins no. 97—W.A. Dwiggins’ Childhood (1880–1889) continued.
W.A. Dwiggins as a child (1886). Photograph by James Ferguson (Richmond, Indiana). Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.
In The Definitive Dwiggins no. 97, I included two photographs of W.A. Dwiggins as a child, both taken by well-respected Richmond photographic studios. The earliest one was by Jacob Harry Swaine (1838–1917) whose studio at the time was located at the corner of Eighth Street and Main …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 97—W.A. Dwiggins’ Childhood (1880–1889) continued

The text for this post on W.A. Dwiggins’ childhood in Richmond, Indiana was originally written in 2007. It overlaps The Definitive Dwiggins no. 94 (Dwiggins’ birth and childhood), The Definitive Dwiggins no. 95 (some of Dwiggins’ childhood drawings), The Definitive Dwiggins no. 106 (Richmond, Indiana businesses), The Definitive Dwiggins no. 107 (Dwiggins’ homes in Richmond, Indiana), and The Definitive Dwiggins no. 92 (Clare V. Dwiggins, known as Dwig). Although ostensibly about Dwiggins’ childhood in Richmond, The Definitive Dwiggins no. …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 92—Dwig

W.A. Dwiggins is familiarly known today as WAD, but occasionally in the past he was referred to by colleagues as Dwig. This nickname can be confusing since it was the professional name of his first cousin Clare V. Dwiggins (1874–1958), an illustrator and cartoonist. [1]
A young Clare Victor Dwiggins (n.d.). Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.
“The cartoonist.” From School Days by Clare Victor Dwiggins (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1919).
Clarence Victor Dwiggins was born …
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