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Book of the Week — Prelude to Eden

PN1980-D85-1956-Bow“But I know,” I know that they’ve got me in the wrong place! I know it! I know it! I know it!”

William Addison Dwiggins (1880-1956)
Hingham, MA: Püterschein-Hingham Press, 1956

William Addison Dwiggins is one of the best known American book designers and typographers of the twentieth century. He studied under Frederic Goudy. He is credited with coining the term “graphic designer,” a term he used in reference to himself in 1922. His best known typefaces, still in use today, are Electra and Caledonia, created for the Mergentahler Linotype Company, for whom Addison worked from 1929 until after World War II. He was also a calligrapher and was legendary for his work in advertising. Dwiggins loved woodcarving, a passion that led to the creation of his marionette theater. He began a puppet group he called the Püterschein Academy, through which he produced several shows, including Prelude to Eden.


This “drama” is set in “A Wilderness Northwest of Eden” and features four marionette characters: Drace, the District Warden (who became The Serpent); Dijul, a kindly Antediluvian; Lillith, a young woman; and Azrael, an Archangel and Bailiff of Eden.

PN1980-D85-1956-coverIllustrated throughout using what is referred to in the colophon as a “tone-line” process, which involved photographing and then silk-screening images of Dwiggins’ marionettes. Typography, composition, printing, silkscreens by Dorothy Vernard Abbe. Dorothy Venard Abbe is the author of The Dwiggins Marionettes, 1970. She worked as a book designer at several university presses. Bound in aluminum sheet boards, attached with green Fabriano paper at the spine, also by Abbe. This is the first time that metal covers were used as a binding design in the United States.


Rare Books copy in original acetate dust jacket. It is a presentation copy, inscribed by Abbe to Herman Cohen, owner of the Chiswick Bookshop, and his wife, Viv. The original mailing box survives, split at the seams, and addressed to Cohen. Laid in are two letters from Dorothy Abbe written in black ink, one with the original mailing envelope. Edition of one hundred and seventy-five copies.


View the original article on the OpenBook Blog

1 Comment
  • Avatar Maker
    Posted at 04:19h, 20 January Reply

    Graphic designers are the creative minds behind visually compelling and impactful designs

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