Dear Bookbuilders Members,

Please read this short introductory note and then the PDF that is found here on the Bookbuilders website: (

As many of you know, the annual W. A Dwiggins award given by Bookbuilders is named to honor a Boston artist who was one of 20th century’s greatest designers of books and typefaces. Dwiggins (1880-1956) grew up in Ohio but moved to Boston in 1904 and remained here for the rest of his life. Although he is best known for establishing the visual style of Knopf’s books over three decades (more than 300 titles!) and for his Limited Editions Club projects, Dwiggins also designed for Century, Doubleday, Ginn, Harper, Harvard University Press, Houghton Mifflin, McClure, Oxford, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Yale University Press and many small publishers. Of equal importance, his typeface designs for Mergenthaler Linotype made that company’s machine viable for quality book composition—Caledonia and Electra being the two most widely used of the dozen types Dwiggins designed.

Dwiggins was interested in the Bookbuilders from the moment of its inception, and indeed, he created the logotypes for the organization and for the workshop.

Beyond his accomplishments in publishing and typography, Dwiggins was prominent in puppetry circles and is talked about to this day for his marionette engineering and designs. He was a talented calligrapher, painter, wood-carver, kite-maker, theatrical set designer, furniture designer, and a writer both insightful and witty. 

Dwiggins’ papers, most of his original artwork, and all of his marionettes are held in the Rare Book Department of the Boston Public Library. This Dwiggins research collection is one of the treasures of Boston’s libraries and is visited by scholars from all over the world.

The reason we are contacting you is that we hope to get broad support from the Boston book community to secure an important item in Dwiggins’ history for the collection at the Boston Public Library. The PDF explains all of this, and tells an entertaining story about Dwiggins’ sense of humor. Please consider giving something toward this—all gifts gratefully received, from modest to lavish! If everyone can make a small contribution we’ll reach the goal quickly.

Bruce Kennett, book designer
Stuart Walker, book conservator