34th Williams A. Dwiggins Lecture

It’s already a week ago that I held a lecture at the Boston Public Library. It was the 34th. William A. Dwiggins Lecture. As lectures go, it wasn’t all that special (apart from it being a great honour to be asked to speak in front of all those dignified printers and historians), but it was the first time that I had a lecture interrupted by a fire alarm. I just had the first slide up (see small picture) when the alarm went off.


We actually all had to move out into the street. There was the usual display of emergency hardware (I always find that on those occasions in the US they really like to show everything they have) – big trucks with and without ladders, ambulances, patrol cars, dozens of firemen (who like to be called Firefighters these days) with helmets and axes – until it transpired that it had only been a malfunctioning microwave somewhere that caused all this fuss!

Nick Sherman had the presence of mind to film the moment when the alarm went off. He also took the little picture here that I just downloaded from his flickr site. I designed a poster and an invitation for the evening. The card is shown below.

I’ve also added a download for the pdf that was sent to the printers: dwiggins_sheet.pdf.



  1. Actually, “firefighter” has always been a correct term. “Fireman” covers several positions, some of whom actually deal with keeping a fire -going-.

  2. Nick, i wrote to you via Flickr to ask if i could use the photograph. But perhaps, like me, you don’t answer all those stupid requests from Flickr, Facebook and others.

  3. In Britain they were always called firemen. The Beatles sing about them in Penny Lane:

    In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
    And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen.
    He likes to keep his fire engine clean,
    It’s a clean machine.

  4. @Nick:

    was that supposed to be a link being investigated? It doesn’t work here.
    And BTW: very cool blog you have!
    Shame you have to work for Myfonts ;-)

  5. Chris Long

    Hey, Erik!

    Can you put up a larger version of that card? NICE!

  6. Check the downloads tab or just click on the new link in the copy.

  7. Eric,
    I did post a reply to your request on the photo page, but I guess you didn’t see it. Either way, it’s fine that you used the photo.

    That “being investigated” link was supposed to point to the following: http://bostonist.com/2008/04/17/boston-fire-department-041708.php

    Thanks for the compliments on my personal site; I’ve been working on a major update to it over the past year as well, but as the old saying goes: “the cobbler’s children have no shoes”. This is no doubt due to the amount of time I’ve been spending playing catch-up as the first ever full-time designer for MyFonts (a fact which probably isn’t too surprising, but daunting nonetheless).

  8. @Nick:

    As i don’t really frequent Flickr, Facebook et al, i never went back to check. Thanks for being generous. I guess that’s what bloggers do, as long as there’s credit.

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