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Dwiggins, William Addison

William Addison Dwiggins, 1880–1956, American type designer, calligrapher, and book designer, b. Martinsville, Ohio. He attained prominence as an illustrator and commercial artist, and he brought to the designing of type and books some of the boldness that he displayed in his advertising work. His typefaces—Electra and Caledonia are most widely used—were specifically designed for linotype composition and have the clean spareness of the motor age. His scathing attack on contemporary book designers in An Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books (1919) led to his working with the publisher Alfred A. Knopf. A series of finely conceived and executed trade books followed and did much to increase public interest in book format. Dwiggins was perhaps more responsible than any other designer for the marked improvement in book design in the 1920s and 1930s. He gained recognition as a calligrapher and wrote much on the graphic arts, notably essays collected in MSS by WAD (1949), and his Layout in Advertising (1928; rev. ed. 1949) remains standard.

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