Research

Research consists of unintended or accidental discoveries that I have made during the course of my research into other topics. They are posted here in the belief that others may find the information equally fascinating. Some items are meant to challenge or question existing scholarship on a specific topic. And others are intended to alert scholars to material that may be relevant to their own pursuits or to new opportunities of research.

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 209—22 Printers’ Marks and Seals (Part 1)

Rejected title page design for 22 Printers’ Marks and Seals, designed or redrawn by W.A. Dwiggins (1928). Design, lettering, and decoration by W.A. Dwiggins. Original pen-and-ink artwork with retouching, paste-up, and specifications. Image courtesy of Special Collections, Boston Public Library.
22 Printers’ Marks and Seals Designed or Redrawn by W.A. Dwiggins (New York: William Edwin Rudge, 1929). This is item 29.02 in The Books of WAD by Dwight Agner who describes it thusly: binding of black paper over boards with …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 81A—W.A. Dwiggins and “graphic design”: A brief rejoinder to Steven Heller and Bruce Kennett

When I wrote The Definitive Dwiggins no. 81 —Who Coined the Term “Graphic Design”? in January 2018 I thought I had finally put to rest the long-running claim, begun in 1983 by Philip B. Meggs, that W.A. Dwiggins coined the term “graphic design”. [1] The claim has been taken up as gospel by numerous graphic design historians and general graphic design writers for over three decades. I was one of the first to accept it when I wrote a profile of …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 223—Cold Type

Cold Type (Boston: S.D. Warren Co., 1925). Cover design probably by W.A. Dwiggins. Image courtesy of Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University.
Cold Type: A primer on the power of the printed word (Boston: S.D. Warren Co., 1925). Title page design typography by W.A. Dwiggins. Image courtesy of Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University.
Let’s be Misers with Golden Selling Hours, published in 1925, was the subject of The Definitive Dwiggins no. 222. …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins No. 222—Let’s be Misers with Golden Selling Hours

Let’s be Misers with Golden Selling Hours (Boston: S.D. Warren Co., 1925). Cover illustration probably by W.A. Dwiggins.
One of the areas of W.A. Dwiggins’ career which is significantly underreported in W.A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design by Bruce Kennett (San Francisco: Letterform Archive, 2018) is his work for the paper industry and individual paper companies between 1914 and 1936. [1] Based on his surviving account books Dwiggins did at least one job for as many as 37 different paper …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 204—Streets in the Moon

Binding of Streets in the Moon by Archibald MacLeish (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926). Decoration, lettering, and design by W.A. Dwiggins.
“Didn’t you like the drawing,” Maurice Firuski, owner of the Dunster House Bookshop, asked Elmer Adler of Pynson Printers, “and especially the ornament by Dwiggins?” What prompted Firuski’s question was his decision to buy up the entire large paper edition of Streets in the Moon by Archibald MacLeish from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Company. [1] For the …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 156—Nobodaddy

Cover of the regular edition of Nobodaddy by Archibald MacLeish (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dunster House, 1926). Decoration by W.A. Dwiggins; design by Elmer Adler; printing by Pynson Printers.
For Nobodaddy: A Play by Archibald MacLeish (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dunster House, 1926) W.A. Dwiggins designed a cover and a title page. [1] The work is not among his most important, but it is among the best documented. It was also a short assignment. [2] That makes it ideal for a detailed chronological account that …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 173—The Hound & Horn

Cover of The Hound & Horn: A Harvard Miscellany (Spring 1929). Design and illustration by Rockwell kent.
The Hound & Horn: A Harvard Miscellany began life in 1927 as a literary quarterly dedicated to life at Harvard University with contributions by its students and alumni. The magazine was founded (and funded) by Lincoln Kirstein (1907–1996) and Varian Fry (1907–1967). The subtitle A Harvard Miscellany was dropped in 1929 when Kirstein prevailed over Fry in a dispute over whether …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 134—Good Morning, America

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 208 surveyed the books that W.A. Dwiggins designed for Crosby Gaige, Publisher. Among them was Good Morning, America by Carl Sandburg (New York: Crosby Gaige, 1928). The book was one of the first works to extensively showcase Dwiggins’ new interest in abstract ornamental designs made via hand-carved celluloid stencils. [1] For it he created two designs for the spine, and ten for the sections of the book. He also designed a large stenciled cityscape for …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 208—Crosby Gaige, Part 2

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 207 outlined the career of Crosby Gaige (1882–1949) prior to his decision to become a publisher; examined how and why he included W.A. Dwiggins among his small coterie of book designers; discussed Veni Creator! by Humbert Wolfe (the joint Christmas gift book he, his wife, James R. Wells, and the author had privately printed); and then surveyed the many variations of the ram mark Dwiggins designed for Crosby Gaige, Publisher. This post focuses on the …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 207—Crosby Gaige, Part 1

At his death, The New York Times said that, “Witty and erudite, Mr. Gaige excelled in many fields. He was known as a collector of first editions, gourmet and cook, Latin and Greek scholar, printer and binder of beautiful books, truck farmer, radio speaker, cattle breeder, machineshop and wood-carving enthusiast, perfume distiller and patent model collector.” In addition to this litany of accomplishments and personas Roscoe Crosby Gaige (1882–1949), more commonly known by his middle name Crosby, had been a very successful …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 230—Beau Brummell

George Bryan Brummell (1778–1840), commonly known as Beau Brummell, was a Regency dandy. He was considered to be the arbiter of etiquette and men’s fashion in England during the time of the prince regent George IV in the early nineteenth century. Brummell is credited with inventing the men’s suit. His life and the concept of dandyism have been the subject of several books and numerous essays, beginning with Du Dandyism et de George Brummell by Jules Barbey d’Aureville, …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 174—Tartarin of Tarascon

From 1929 until his death in 1956, W.A. Dwiggins focused on type design and book design. During those years he had three principal clients: Mergenthaler Linotype, Alfred A. Knopf, and the George Macy Companies. The George Macy Companies consisted of a group of imprints, chief among them The Limited Editions Club. [1] Dwiggins was Macy’s preferred book designer and, after the summer of 1930, his de facto art director, responsible for designing newsletters, stationery, checks, display racks, and other items, …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 221—More on the 1925 Marchbanks calendar

In 1928 the Niagara Paper Mill Co., located in Lockport, New York, issued a set of calendar sheets with illustrations by W.A. Dwiggins. In design, though not in color, the illustrations were identical to the ones that Dwiggins had created for The Marchbanks Press three years earlier. [1]
Niagara Paper Mills calendar for April 1928. Illustration by W.A. Dwiggins.
How did the calendar sheets come about? They are not recorded in Dwiggins’ account books and I doubt that he had any …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 113—The Marchbanks Calendar

Hal Marchbanks (March 1929). Photograph by Edmund G. Gress.
Hal Marchbanks
“Head of His Own Press Was Credited With Revival of a Caslon Type Face” read the headline in The New York Times for the obituary of Hal Marchbanks. [1] In its time—roughly the quarter-century after 1910—The Marchbanks Press was considered one of the best printers not only in New York City but throughout the entire United States. Yet today, it and its owner are virtually forgotten.
Hal Marchbanks was born in 1877 in …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 219 addendum—”The Finest Book of Fairy Stories”

“The store was a most interesting looking place. Its windows were full of everything from tacks to fiddlesticks, and its its walls inside were lined with dusty shelves that held hundreds of musty-smelling old books.”
—from Chapter I of The Long Men of Lampanzie by Laurance B. Siegfried in Happyland (December 1913), p. 30.
“The Finest Book of Fairy Stories.” Illustration by W.A. Dwiggins for Chapter I of The Long Men of Lampanzie in Happyland vol. XXVII, no. 3 (Christmas issue, …
Continue reading

The Definitive Dwiggins no. 219—The Long Men of Lampanzie

The Long Men of Lampanzie was a fantasy written by Laurance B. Siegfried and serialized in Happyland magazine from December 1913 to May 1914. Due to the demise of the magazine in the fall of 1914, only the first seven chapters were published in Siegfried’s lifetime. However, in 2003, Melissa Austen Langeland published a limited edition of the The Long Men of Lampanzie: A Tale of the Faraway Land of Lurg which contained twenty-two chapters. [1] Langeland, the great-granddaughter …
Continue reading