Dwiggins, W.A. (William Addison), 1880-1956

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W. A. Dwiggins was a calligrapher, type designer and illustrator. Forthe first two decades of the twentieth century he supplied art work to Boston advertisers. Henry Watson Kent was the first librarian of the Grolier Club (a New York City bibliophile society). For many years Kent served as secretary to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he set the standard for fine institutional printing. He was also an authority on prints.

From the description of ALS: Boston, to Henry Watson Kent, New York, 1910 Oct. 27. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122516176

William Addison Dwiggins (1880-1956) was an American book designer, type designer, and graphic artist. He was a leading book designer in the 1920s and 1930s.

From the guide to the William Addison Dwiggins Collection, 1927-1927, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Dwiggins was an American type designer, calligrapher, and book designer. Philip Hofer was Curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts of the Harvard College Library.

From the description of W. A. Dwiggins papers concerning Cedar Hill, 1934-1979. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 612769803

From the guide to the W. A. Dwiggins papers concerning, Cedar Hill, 1934-1979., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

William Addison Dwiggins (1880-1956) is best remembered by his many friends and associates as a gentle, modest, and sensitive person, with numerous whimsical talents that gave his professional work a liveliness and richness in expression, even for the most serious of subjects. He was a type designer, book designer, calligrapher, illustrator, and writer. He also carved and wrote plays for his marionettes, and had occasional excursions into architecture, furniture design, mural painting, kite flying, weathervane-making, and making his own tools.

After studying illustration in Chicago under Frederic Goudy he moved to Hingham, Massachusetts in the first years of the century to work with Goudy and his Village Press, where he lived the rest of his life. Most of his work in the first two decades was in the advertising field which made use of his skills as a calligrapher and graphic artist. It was not until the mid-twenties that Dwiggins emerged as a book designer, following the publication of his 1919 essay "Extracts from an Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books as They Are At Present Published", written with his cousin Laurance B. Siegfried who later became editor of The American Printer . Published by The Society of Calligraphers, a fictitious group, with the "help" of Hermann Pterschein, Dwiggins' alter-ego, the essay did shake up a few men in the publishing industry by criticizing the lack of attention to careful design and typography and helped to establish Dwiggins as a designer opposed to shoddy workmanship.

Dwiggins' career as a designer of trade books began in 1926 when he designed and illustrated both the limited and trade editions of Willa Cather's My Mortal Enemy for the publisher Alfred A. Knopf. He went on to have a long and fruitful career designing many more trade and limited editions for Knopf, as well as limited editions for other organizations, including George Macy's Limited Editions Club. Dwiggins felt that book design ought not be a slave of the past. If a book was to be read in the present its design and illustrations should reflect contemporary tastes. As noted by Dorothy Abbe, an associate of Dwiggins, two keys styles of Dwiggins can readily be noted when viewing the collection: ornamentation done with stencils and hand lettering on the spines of his books.

From the guide to the William Addison Dwiggins collection, 1902-1990, 1920-1960, (Literature and Rare Books)

William Addison Dwiggins was born in Martinsville, OH, in 1880. He studied in Chicago at the Frank Holme School of Illustration, where he was influenced, among others, by typographer Frederic W. Goudy. Dwiggins ran his own printing firm in Ohio for a short time, but in 1904 he moved to Hingham, MA – a community near Boston which had embraced William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement. Goudy himself was a resident at the time, and Dwiggins remained in Hingham until his death in 1956.

Dwiggins worked as a book designer, typographer, illustrator, and writer. He illustrated books for Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, and the Limited Editions Club. He also designed a number of typefaces for the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, including Electra in 1935 and Caledonia in 1939.

(Source: Roy R. Behrens, “Dwiggins, William Addison,” in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Accessed 23 Nov. 2010, <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T098010>.)

From the guide to the W. A. Dwiggins Collection, 1919-1950, (Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Overbrook Press. Overbrook Press records, 1929-1978. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Press of the Woolly Whale. Press of the Woolly Whale collection, 1928-1972 (inclusive), 1928-1941 (bulk) RIT Library, Wallace Library
referencedIn Dwiggins, W.A. : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Pynson Printers (New York, N.Y.). Pynson Printers records, 1927-1933. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Working drawings for a typeface / by WAD manuscript, 1936?. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Trenholm, George F., 1886-1958. George F. Trenholm Papers, 1787-1958 (bulk 1920-1958). Boston College. John J. Burns Library
referencedIn Pynson Printers records, 1927-1933 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Pattern plates for the Caledonia typeface. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. W. A. Dwiggins records, 1937-[ca. 1951]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Merrymount Press. Records, 1898-1949. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. ALS: Boston, to Henry Watson Kent, New York, 1910 Oct. 27. Grolier Club
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. [Process block for The sun dial library series]. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Letter, 1928, Nov. 30, Boston, to Harold G. Rugg. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Rollins, Carl Purington, 1880-1960. Carl Purington Rollins papers, 1880-1983. Yale University Library
creatorOf DWIGGINS, WILLIAM ADDISON. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Process blocks for Rags in paper. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Paul Johnston papers, 1918-1979, 1930s-1950s New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Process blocks for Modern color. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf [W.A. Dwiggins collection] University of Maryland Libraries, UMD Libraries
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. : Series II., Alfred A. Knopf Personal, 1874-1984 (bulk 1953-1984). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Skaggs, Charles E. Charles E. Skaggs collection, ca. 1940-2002. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn W. A. Dwiggins papers concerning, Cedar Hill, 1934-1979. Houghton Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Process blocks for The complete angler. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Warde, Frederic, 1894-1939. Papers, 1915-1938. Grolier Club
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Püterschein-Dwiggins collection, 1872-1990. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
creatorOf Grover, Edwin Osgood, 1870-. Papers, 1897-1948. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Abbe, Dorothy. W. A. Dwiggins collection. Ephemera, ca. 1914-1990. University of Maryland Libraries, UMD Libraries
referencedIn Overbrook Press Records, 1929-1978, [Bulk: 1935-1961] Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Process blocks for Form letters. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. W. A. Dwiggins papers, 1906-1915. Newberry Library
referencedIn Carl Purington Rollins Papers, 1880-1983 Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections
creatorOf Moore, Timothy. [Demonstration paper mold with 'Veritas' watermark] [realia]. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Ransom, Will, 1878-1955. Will Ransom papers, 1883-1954. Newberry Library
referencedIn Chappell, Warren, 1904-1991. Papers of Warren Chappell, 1932, 1946, 1975-1983. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984. Letter, New York, to Warren Chappell, n.d. [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Abbe, Dorothy. Papers, 1926-1993. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
creatorOf Limited Editions Club. Limited Editions Club papers, 1929-1992. Grand Valley State University
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Process blocks for Philip Hofer. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Rushmore, Arthur W., 1883-1955. Rushmore collection, 1900-1992 (bulk 1927-1955). Free Public Library of the Borough of Madison
creatorOf William Addison Dwiggins Collection, 1927-1927 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
creatorOf Johnston, Paul, 1899-. Paul Johnston papers, 1918-1979, bulk (1930s-1950s). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf William Addison Dwiggins collection, 1902-1990, 1920-1960 Literature and Rare Books
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. Series IV., Author and Book Designer Files, 1911-1979 (bulk 1920-1960). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984. Letter : New York, to Warren Chappell, n.d. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. W. A. Dwiggins papers concerning Cedar Hill, 1934-1979. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. : Series I., General Correspondence, 1922-1977 (bulk 1946-1966). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf W. A. Dwiggins papers concerning, Cedar Hill, 1934-1979. Houghton Library
creatorOf [W.A. Dwiggins printed ephemera]. McGill University Library
creatorOf Macy, George. Limited Editions Club papers, 1929-1940. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Letter from W.A. Dwiggins to Mr. Spohn, February 4, 1927, Boston, Mass. [manuscript]. McGill University Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. Process blocks for Company K. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. ALS : Hingham, Mass., to Carl [Rollins], 1954 May 5. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
creatorOf W. A. Dwiggins Collection, 1919-1950 Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library Special Collections
referencedIn Shank, Raymond E. Raymond E. Shank papers, 1926-1993. Newberry Library
referencedIn Macy, George. George Macy papers, 1916-1970. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Abbe, Dorothy. person
associatedWith Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith American Institute of Graphic Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Bartlett, Alfred, 1870-1965. person
correspondedWith Bennett, Paul A., 1897-1966 person
associatedWith Cary, Melbert Brinckerhoff, 1892-1941. person
associatedWith Chappell, Warren, 1904-1991. person
associatedWith Cole, W. Arthur (William Arthur), b. 1887 person
associatedWith Cutler, Carl Gordon, 1873-1945. person
correspondedWith Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956 person
associatedWith Grover, Edwin Osgood, 1870- person
associatedWith Hofer, Philip, 1898-1984. person
associatedWith Johnston, Paul, 1899- person
correspondedWith Kent, Henry Watson, 1866-1948, person
associatedWith Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984. person
associatedWith Limited Editions Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Macy, George. person
associatedWith March, William, 1893-1954. person
associatedWith Merrymount Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Moore, Timothy. person
correspondedWith Nash, Ray, 1905-1982. person
associatedWith Overbrook Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Pepper, Stephen C. (Stephen Coburn), 1891-1972. person
correspondedWith Philip Hofer person
associatedWith Press of the Woolly Whale. corporateBody
associatedWith Pynson Printers corporateBody
associatedWith Pynson Printers (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ransom, Will, 1878-1955. person
correspondedWith Rollins, Carl Purington, 1880-1960 person
correspondedWith Rushmore, Arthur W., 1883-1955. person
correspondedWith Ruzicka, Rudolph, 1883-1978 person
correspondedWith Shank, Raymond E. person
associatedWith Skaggs, Charles E. person
associatedWith Trenholm, George F., 1886-1958. person
associatedWith Updike, Daniel Berkeley, 1860-1941. person
associatedWith Walton, Izaak, 1593-1683. person
associatedWith Warde, Frederic, 1894-1939. person
associatedWith William Addison Dwiggins. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts--Boston
United States
Massachusetts
Subject
American literature--20th century
Printing--United States--Exhibitions
Drama
Graphic arts--United States--Exhibitions
Calligraphy
Typewriters
Type and type-founding
Graphic arts
Book design--United States
Printing
Publishing, printing and book arts
Literature
Book designers--Correspondence
Type designers
Book design
Literature publishing
Illustration of books--20th century
Occupation
Book designers
Illustrator
Artists
Designer
Type designers
Artists--20th century.--Massachusetts--Boston
Authors
Function

Person

Birth 1880-06-19

Death 1956-12-25

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 54287008