File puptcrit/puptcrit.0509, message 34

Subject: RE: [Puptcrit] the importance of Dwiggins marionettes (pre 1958)
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2005 20:32:42 -0400

Alan, I don't know of Dwiggins but you have peaked my interest in going to
Boston Public Library! I wanted to ask you if Dr. Malkin still works at Cal


"The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."
-Walter Bagehot

"One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the
choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape
ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make
are ultimately our own responsibility."-----Eleanor Roosevelt

"Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are
dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do
it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many

-Michael Landon

> [Original Message]
> From: Alan Cook <>
> To: steve abrams <>
> Cc: <>
> Date: 9/2/2005 8:09:50 PM
> Subject: [Puptcrit] the importance of Dwiggins marionettes (pre 1958)
atBoston Public Library
> Lance Hidy (978-346-0075), 2 Summer Street, Merrimac MA 01860 or is researching William Dwiggins' history as a leading
designer of printers' type and string puppet designer and contacted Paul
Eide. Steve Abrams forwarded the above information to several members of
Puppeteers of America
> To me it is obvious we need to widen the circle of those already
contacted. about Dwiggins' importance to today's puppeteers. Response will
be appreciated.
> 1.-Do you know who Dwiggins is?
> 2.-Is he important to the history of American Puppetry?
> 3.-Is he important to you in any way?
> 4.-Is he in his time as big an influence as Mabel & Les Beaton (whose
how-to book was very important)?
> (Note: Paul McPharlin, who organized the first national puppetry
conference and published Puppetry Yearbooks, my bible, "The Puppet Theatre
in America, and the small treatise on Dwiggins' marionette patterns which
like the Beaton book has been reprinted, had HIGH REGARD for Dwiggins'
marionette construction, which is why he published the little Dwiggins
book, now considered a rare book in the original edition.
> Both the Beatons and Dwiggins had theatres for puppets (marionettes) in
their homes. For both theatres there were fans who counted themselves lucky
to be invited. As a typographer, Dwiggins took delight in PRINTING HIS
TICKETS AS GRAPHIC ART, ad you could say he set the standard for ticket
> I cannot imagine that the Beatons did not know of Dwiggins' earlier work.
> The Beatons knew Frank Paris and his artistry. Frank knew about Dwiggins,
so yes there are links.
> When I was in college 1949-1953 in Claremont CA, I met a student who was
at Scripps College, and she just happened to be related to Dwiggins. I
think she was a neice, and she knew about the type designs (in wide use in
the USA) and the marionettes.
> Two of Dwiggins' chief admirers were Martin & Olga Stevens, among the
greatest American puppeteers of all time, and thy shared patterns for the
paddle marionette control. At the time of the MIT NATIONAL PUPPETRY
FESTIVAL the Boston Public Library scheduled extra hours for puppeteers to
see the outstanding marionette collection housed there. How many on
puptcrit have made that visit??
>   How many know the Dwiggins diagrams in print? How many have it and/or
the Abbe coffee table book of DWIGGINS MARIONETTES (pub'd by Henry Abrams
from the original edition of  3, 4, or 5 copies with tipped-in original
photographic  prints, and perhaps hand-set type pages. One of those copies
was placed in the San Francisco Historical Society library. I don't know
where the others are, but would guess the Boston Library would be a logical
> Roger Hayward notable in the Pasadena CA area worked in similar fahion
with similarly small-scale marionettes in the same time-frame. He was also
from Massachusetts, and after graduating from MIT headed for Los
Angeles/Pasadena just before the CRASH of 1929, the start f the Great
Depression. His puppets appeared in the Cyril Beaumont books and through
photos alone, influenced puppeteers in Europe and the USA. I don't know if
he knew Dwiggins, but I am sure he knew the little book, tho he may have
created his marionettes independently. But someties something is "in the
air breathed in ---same air, different people". I knew Roger & Betty
Hayward and have some of their puppets. For me their BEROJU puppets are
icons too. (BEttyROgerJUlian-for Roger, his wife & his brother)
> So far as I am concerned, Dwiggins was one of the giants in the 1930s
puppet scene and some evidence is in writings of Paul McPharlin, America's
most prominent scholar of puppet theatre.
> And the Puppeteers of America members in the 1930s-1960s would have known
and even revered the Dwigins name, and most likely knew about his fame as a
type designer.
> One last comment: at the 1948 National PofA Fest in Oklahoma City (my
first) a Dwiggins marionette body was auctioned off for $35 and the
excited, lucky bidder was Martin Stevens.---ALAN COOK
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