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.

Blue Pencil no. 48—One Hundred Books Famous in Typography, Part 3 [The First Golden Age] nos. 10–19

Note: When I began this dissection it was intended as a single post—even as it grew much longer than expected. However, I was forced to break it up into smaller chunks when I ran into an unexplained “failure error” when trying to save the draft one day. Rather than try to break up the dissection into equally sized posts based on word counts, I decided instead to make separate posts based on the divisions used in the Grolier Club exhibition …
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Blue Pencil no. 56—Creative Typography

Creative Type: A Sourcebook of Classic and Contemporary Letterforms by Alston Purvis, Cees de Jong, and Friedrich Friedl (London and New York: Thames & Hudson, 2005)
This is not a full Blue Pencil dissection. It is based solely on the portions of Creative Type available as a Google Books preview online. The preview includes the front cover, pp. 268, 276, 279–280, 282–291, 294–295, 297, 299–304, 306–310, 313–320, 322–323, 326–327, 329–333, 335, 338, 340, 342–345, 347, 349–351, 353–355, 357–359, 362–364, …
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One Hundred [sic] Books [sic] Famous [sic] in [Western] Typography [sic]—A Critique

One Hundred Books Famous in Typography by Jerry Kelly (New York: The Grolier Club, 2021)
This book, with a foreword by Sebastian Carter, accompanies an exhibition held at the Grolier Club from May 12 to July 31, 2021.* The exhibition has been touted by Kelly and the Grolier Club as the seventh in an ongoing series of exhibitions based on the concept of “one hundred books famous in [fill in the blank]”. The first of these, “One Hundred Books Famous in …
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100 Hundred Books Famous in Typography (the exhibition)—The perspective of a specialist

100 Hundred Books Famous in Typography
The Grolier Club
May 12–July 31, 2021
curated by Jerry Kelly
The Grolier Club is a private club, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, devoted to the collecting of books and their appreciation as material artifacts. It regularly hosts exhibitions of books (and sometimes other items like magazines) derived from its members’ collecting passions and, on occasion, traveling exhibitions from libraries and other institutions. To its credit, these exhibitions are not only open to …
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Blue Pencil no. 49—Melure

This is the complete text that appears below the heading “Melior (all sizes—see Melure)” in a 1965 specimen book or advertisement from Headliners. I have copied it from the WRU+1 PDF supplied to me by Nikolaus Weichelsbaumer.
We call it Melure.
Now you can specify Melior to fit areas, not just lines.
Now you can get all sizes in five different weights, three proportions, matching italics and open face.
Now you can keep the clean, precise look of Melior in tight display headings.
For Melure …
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Blue Pencil no. 22 second addendum—More about Monotype Melior

Recently Nikolaus Weichelsbaumer sent me a PDF titled WRU+1, a collection of photocopied documents about the origins of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) and its Code Moral assembled by Hermann Zapf. Near the end of the PDF there are a number of items that shed additional light on how Melior [sic] ended up on monotype machines beyond what I was able to report in September 2014. (See Blue Pencil no. 22 addendum—The Mystery of Monotype Melior.)
WRU+1 pp. 169–179 represent …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 720—Bertram B. Udell, W.A. Dwiggins & Oswald Cooper: A Question of Attribution

This post is an update and corrective to The Definitive Dwiggins no. 20 in which I tried to figure out how Bertram B. Udell (1877–1956) of The Printing Studio had come to print work signed “WAD” and “C”.

Portrait of Bertram B. Udell (1912). From The Inland Printer vol. XLIX, no. 3 (June 1912), p. 385. Photograph by Misses Ray and Heine.
Bertram B. Udell
Bertram B. Udell was born in Rantoul, Illinois in 1877. [1] His father E.J. Udell (1838–1903) was the publisher of …
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The Song of the Twisted: Being a Tale of Woe Told by the Victim

Frank Holme (late 1890s?). Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arizona.
In 2015 I discovered an amusing yet fascinating manuscript of doggerel in the Frederic and Bertha Goudy Collection at the Library of Congress. [1] The manuscript, entitled “The Song of the Twisted: Being a Tale of Woe Told by the Victim” was written, lettered, and illustrated by Frank Holme (1868–1904), the celebrated newspaper artist and proprietor of the School of Illustration in Chicago. It tells the story of how Holme …
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The Definitive Dwiggins no. 131—Reed and Dwiggins, Publishers

Reed and Dwiggins, Publishers letterhead (1906). Design and lettering by W.A.Dwiggins. Image courtesy of Special Collections, Boston Public Library.
For nearly two years, between the time that he left The Village Press in early 1905 and the beginning of 1907 when he fully gained Daniel Berkeley Updike’s trust, W.A. Dwiggins was floundering about professionally. He had a powerful urge to be an artist in the Arts & Crafts manner, producing bibelots, prints, and sundry other artistic items. And at the …
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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. 130—Will Dwiggins, Publisher of Prints

notes on trying to identify and date items:
First Dwiggins list at Dartmouth—3 woodcuts in preparation; probably fall 1905
Second Dwiggins list at Newberry—3 woodcuts completed and 5 quotations; probably spring 1906
Bartlett 1906 catalogue at BPL, notes at Huntington—5 mottoes and revelations; printed September 5, 1906
Revelations copy at Dartmouth; visually similar to Parable 1905—see image below
woodcut of sea fight in February 1907 SACB catalogue; thus definitely done earlier
possibly use letterhead to date had to be printed by The Heintzemann Press during his …
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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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