W.A. Dwiggins was known for many things: his illustration, calligraphy, advertising, book design and his puppet theater, as well as the typefaces that we know him by. Chauncey Griffith, Director of Typographic Development at the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, kept the design of telephone directory, newspaper and non-roman faces for himself, but employed Dwiggins (and later Rudolf Ruzicka, who provided Fairfield and Primer) for the company’s commercial text efforts: Before the war WAD, as he called himself, designed Metro, Electra, and Caledonia for Mergenthaler.
During the war all but essential brass was taken for munitions, blocking production of new Linotype faces. Griffith kept Dwiggins busy on experimental designs: Eldorado (released 1951) and Falcon (released 1962), were manufactured after the war. Drawings for most of the published faces are to be found in the Dwiggins Collection at the Boston Public Library. His drawings for Stuyvesant, Winchester, Arcadia, Tippecanoe, Hingham and a number of experimentals survive with the rest of Dwiggins papers in the Griffith Archives at the University of Kentucky.
Dwiggins’ work provides inspiration for Font Bureau designers. In his lowercase for Eldorado Dwiggins followed a French model with unusual fidelity: he used a late sixteenth century original cut in Paris by Jacques de Sanlecque the elder after Robert Granjon. From the hand of David Berlow, Font Bureau’s Eldorado fully develops the potential of Dwiggin’s original series.
Kent Lew has gone to great lengths in studying Dwiggins’ work, collecting copies of all significant models in the Griffith Archives. Font Bureau’s Whitman is a prize-winning development of these studies, centering around Caledonia.
Cyrus Highsmith shares a high regard for Dwiggins’ work. Relay, his first of three spirited new Font Bureau series, reaches back to Dwiggins’ Metro for inspiration, extending this American tradition.
Quiosco and Prensa, carry forward the dancing relationships that Dwiggins established beteen outlines and counters. Highsmith deliberately creates this tension as he wraps outside curves around his inside shapes, a technique that Dwiggins pioneered in his 1935 Electra.