Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727).  The Journal of Madam Knight. Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1920. 525 copies.

One of the first books designed by Rogers after he was comfortably ensconced in his studio at the Printing House of William Edwin Rudge in Mount Vernon, New York, was The Journal of Madam Knight. A duodecimo, it was set in Garamond type, with red and black Caslon used for the title-page. The text recounted a journey from Boston to New York during 1704 and Rogers enhanced the sprightly prose with some line drawings in a French eighteenth-century manner.

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616). The Tempest. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1921. 5000 copies.

The Tempest was designed as the pilot volume of a new Cambridge Shakespeare, edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch and John Dover Wilson. Although Rogers was back in the United States he had left several specimen pages, set in Monotype Old Style in a small octavo format. The editors had planned to publish each play in a separate volume at the rate of six per year, but it took until 1966 and thirty-nine volumes to complete the project. In one sense it was Rogers’ greatest success; it sold more copies and remained in print longer than any other of his books. It was chosen as one of the ‘Thirty’.


Henry D. Thoreau (1817-1862). Night and Moonlight. New York: Hubert Rutherford Brown, 1921. 400 copies (18 on Japanese paper).

Rogers wrote of this text, ‘though one of the shortest, it is perhaps the most poetic of Thoreau’s studies of landscape. He definitively intended to give it that quality, aiming as he himself says, “to add to the domain of poetry”; and in turn, I have endeavoured to make it an addition to the poetic side of book-making’. He made it a small, slender sexto-decimo of only twenty-four pages, set in Garamond without decoration except for a two-colour woodcut head piece by Florence Wyman Ivins (1881-1948). He believed it to be ‘successful’ enough to make the list of ‘Thirty’.

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Conrad Aiken (1889-1973). Priapus and the Pool. Cambridge: Dunster House, 1922. 425 copies.

Conrad Aiken was, of course, around to sign the fifty copies of Priapus, printed on hand-made paper and Rogers’ challenge was to design a contemporary text with uneven lines of verse. It was one of several books he made for Maurice Firuski, the proprietor of Dunster House Bookshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For the type he chose Linotype Original Old Style, a plain type of no special distinction. He was able, however, to create pages of classic simplicity with no decoration, except for the Dunster House monogram on the title-page in red. He considered it an exercise in ‘pure’ typography and chose it for inclusion in the list of ‘Thirty’.

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Ernest Dowson (1867-1900). The Pierrot of the Minute. New York: The Grolier Club, 1923. 300 copies.

In March of 1921 The Grolier Club invited six American designers and printers to each make a book ‘with a free hand’. They were able to choose a text from a list and the rules stipulated that the books were not to be larger than a royal octavo and the cost to the club was not to exceed $4.50 per copy for an edition of three hundred, printed and bound. Rogers’ contribution was the most acclaimed, though Rogers referred to it as ‘just a bit of French millinery’. The type was, appropriately, Deberny set in 10 and 12-point, with Fournier vignettes arranged in complementary patterns. The colour of the borders has been called ‘dusty old-rose’. That Rogers was also pleased was indicated by its inclusion in the ‘Thirty’.

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Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).  The Construction of Roman Letters. Cambridge: Dunster House, 1924. 350 copies. 

Taken from Dürer’s famous treatise on geometry (1525) The Construction of Roman Letters  was another small book in which Rogers could demonstrate his mastery of space. There are forty-two pages, 7 5/8 x 4 5/8 inches, and thirty-four pages of the Dürer letters 1 5/8 inches tall, each enclosed in thin red printer’s rules. The three-page printer’s note was set in Centaur. The hand-made paper was tinted light grey and letters were printed in a rich velvety black ink from process blocks made by Emery Walker. 


Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847). Venetian Printers: A Conversation on the Fourth Day of The Bibliographical Decameron of Thomas Frognall Dibdin, With Annotations. Mount Vernon: Press of William Edwin Rudge, 1924. 223 copies.

This pamphlet was designed by Rogers to display Frederic Goudy’s Italian Old Style type. It reminded him of the Erhard Ratdolt (1442-1528) Roman types of the fifteenth century and thus he chose the Dibdin dialogue that discussed seven Venetian printers of that period, including Ratdolt. His challenge was to set in narrow measures the ‘islands of text and oceans of commentary’ typical of Dibdin’s books, but also typical of the early printed editions of classical and medieval texts. For the initials letters and the title-page, he used the wood-cut designs of the Venetian printers as models for his arrangement of Monotype ornaments, using a reverse photo-engraving technique to achieve a white-on-black effect. The result was a tour-de-force of design, with a rat (Ratdolt) and a frog (Dibdin) incorporated into the title-page.


The Passports Printed by Benjamin Franklin at his Passy Press. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925. 505 copies.

This book and Benjamin Franklin’s Proposals for the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania (1927) were printed for the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. They are set in Baskerville type, which Rogers had discovered in France, having been cast from the original Baskerville matrices. He had ordered a quantity of 14-point for Harvard University Press, to which he had been Printing Advisor since 1920. The type and the quarto format perfectly reflect the period of Franklin and his career as a printer and diplomat. It was printed on Arches paper, an appropriate choice, and the illustrations were reproduced using the Aquatone process.

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Chauncey B. Tinker (1876-1963). The Wedgwood Medallion of Samuel Johnson, a Study in Iconography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926. 385 copies.

Another of the four Harvard University Press books that Rogers chose for inclusion in his ‘successful Thirty’ was this study of the portraits of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), including the famous medallion by Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795). Chauncey B. Tinker was the Sterling Professor of English literature at Yale University, Keeper of Rare Books in the Yale University Library (who himself formed a notable personal collection), and a devotee of the works of Samuel Johnson. As a stalwart Yale man it seems likely that the opportunity to have his extensively illustrated special book designed by Bruce Rogers was what led him to Harvard, and the designer fulfilled his expectations with a handsome quarto set in Baskerville type to reflect the eighteenth-century sensibilities of both the author and subject.

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Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). On Dry-Cow Fishing as a Fine Art. Cleveland: The Rowfant Club, 1926.

This slender duodecimo was designed by Rogers and printed by Rudge for The Rowfant Club, a Cleveland group of bibliophiles. He used Oxford type, with some Bernhard Script on the title-page, and several decorations in brown and orange drawn by him. Blumenthal considered the book to be slight and not worthy to be included in the BR “Thirty” but Rogers wrote that, ‘In planning these little decorations for Kipling’s amusing fish tale, the color scheme was suggested by my recollections of moon-rises behind the pollard willows along the Cam, in the fens between Cambridge and Ely. One evening a stray red calf ran up and down the bank in the sunset light, bawling for company’. Perhaps his fondness for Dry-Cow Fishing was nostalgic.


John Eliot (1754-1813). John Barnard and his Associates. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927. 160 copies.

A Friends of Harvard University Library was founded by the Librarian Archibald Cary Coolidge in 1925, and in 1927 a similar organization, but without formal ties to the Library, called the John Barnard Associates was established. It was named ‘to honor the memory of John Barnard, who loved books and did what he could for Harvard’. Barnard was in the class of 1700 and became a minister of the First Church of Marblehead. He donated books after the fire of 1764 and bequeathed two hundred pounds to the Library in 1770. This book was announced in the Associates newsletter in June 1927 where it was also noted that none of the 160 copies would be for sale to non-members. Rogers chose Baskerville and Oxford types printed on green tinted hand-made paper and decorated paper boards for the binding. He remembered it fondly enough to include it in BR ‘Thirty’.

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Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Benjamin Franklin’s Proposals for the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927. 300 copies.

Like Franklin’s Passports, the Proposals was printed for the William L. Clements Library in Ann Arbour in Baskerville type, but using Vidalon paper. Rogers once remarked that the choice of paper was the most important element of book design and, while he may have been exaggerating for effect, he was very particular about the paper used in his books. All the elements of this one combined to present the kind of book that Benjamin Franklin, the printer, would have applauded. BR gave his applause by including it in the ‘Thirty’.

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Frederic G. Kenyon (1863-1952). Ancient Books and Modern Discoveries. Chicago: The Caxton Club, 1927. 350 copies.

Kenyon had a long career in the library of the British Museum, beginning as an assistant in the Manuscripts Department in 1889 and ending as Principal Librarian in 1930. While visiting the United States in 1932 he delivered a lecture at the University of Chicago that formed the basis of this book. The commission from The Caxton Club allowed Rogers to produce one of his most handsome efforts, an elegant quarto on fine paper, with thirty full-page plates printed in collotype by Emery Walker in London. BR decided to set the text in 18-point Lutetia, a new type designed by Jan van Krimpen (1892-1958), but objected to the design of three of the lower-case letters: ‘m’, ‘n’, and ‘e’. These he replaced with Linotype Caslon Old Face, specially cast and fitted in with the Lutetia. The decorations for the title-page and the chapter headings were made from ornaments arranged in clusters and printed in brown ink, suggesting papyrus and parchment. Kenyon expressed his ‘sincere appreciation of the honour they have done me in giving so beautiful an outward form to that which I have written’. It became one of the ‘Thirty’.

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Geofroy Tory (1480-1533). Champ Fleury. Translated into English and annotated by George B. Ives. New York: The Grolier Club, 1927. 390 copies; 7 copies on large paper.

When Rogers designed Bernard’s book on Geofroy Tory in 1909 he was already looking forward to working on Champ Fleury, one of the great Renaissance treatises on letter forms. The Grolier Club accepted his proposal in 1922 and commissioned George B. Ives to provide the translation. Tory’s first edition was published in Paris in 1529 and to that Rogers turned for his inspiration. It took five years for the translation and production to be completed, but when the books appeared they were a faithful but much enhanced rendering of the original. The paper was B.R. Wove Antique (with hand-made for the specials) and he chose Centaur as the type, with A.T.F. Garamond for the side notes and Goudy Oldstyle for the two-line initials. There were 130 illustrations and diagrams for which photo-engraved line plates were made. Most reviewers agreed the book was a masterpiece, and it was included on the list of ‘Thirty’.

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Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). The Sisters. Introduction by Ford Madox Ford. New York: Crosby Gaige, 1928. 926 copies; 9 copies on hand-made paper.

The Sisters, an unfinished novel by Conrad, was commissioned by Crosby Gaige, a producer of plays for the New York stage. Rogers produced a slender octavo printed in Monotype Scotch Roman on Glaslan paper at the Rudge plant. Its special feature was a series of chapter headings where combinations of type units and type ornaments were used to illustrate the text rather than act as decoration. He regarded this as a special challenge and wrote: ‘The type decorations proved unexpectedly difficult because of the limited space they were planned to occupy. With only about a quarter inch of depth and the width of the page as dimensions, it proved a matter of many days work and many failures before adequate representations of Russian wheat fields, Paris, or the road in Spain were recognizable. There was not much in the text upon which to hang ornamental suggestions of it’. The result was a kind of typographic extravaganza, included among the ‘Thirty’.


Alfred W. Pollard (1859-1944). The Trained Printer and the Amateur; And the Pleasure of Small Books. London: Lanston Monotype Corporation, Ltd., 1929.

For the launch of the Monotype version of his Centaur type Rogers asked his old friend A.W. Pollard to write this essay. Pollard, who had retired as Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum Library, was still actively engaged in research and writing. He traced the development of the English Private Press movement, especially the Kelmscott Press of William Morris, and made a plea for smaller books: ‘If an Amateur would arise who would help to train customers to pay high prices for beautiful compact books he would be doing good service. At present most of the finely printed books are needlessly and inconveniently large’. The pamphlet concluded with specimen pages of Centaur and Arrighi ranging in size from 72-point to 10-point. Rogers concluded that: ‘The care and skill with which the “Monotype” has reproduced the Centaur design has resulted in a type approximating my first idea of it even more closely than the earlier cutting did’.

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James Boswell (1740-1795). The Private Papers of James Boswell From Malahide Castle, in the Collection of Lt. Colonel Ralph Heywood Isham. Prepared for the Press by Geoffrey Scott and Frederick A. Pottle. Mount Vernon: William E. Rudge, 1929-1933. 18 volumes. 570 copies.

The discovery of Boswell’s archive in a castle near Dublin and its acquisition by the American collector Ralph Isham in 1928 has been told many times. Boswell finally emerged from the shadow cast by Dr. Johnson. Isham immediately arranged for Rudge to produce and distribute the anticipated twelve volumes, but in the end eighteen volumes were required. By the time the first volume was published Rogers had returned to England and thus much of his supervision of the project was conducted by post. Rudge died in 1931 and, although his business continued, four hundred volumes of the Boswell were accidentally destroyed, making complete sets even scarcer. The collection was finally sold to Yale University where it was, of course, eventually edited again. For BR the Boswell was a venture in pure typography, but, perhaps because he was not as closely involved as with most of the books he designed, he did not include it in the ‘Thirty’.

Part Three 1918-1930