Warren Chappell's niece seeks information

Hi! I am one of Warren Chappell's only descendants which, while cool, has always been merely a novelty. Now my own children are teenagers and they have begun to understand how important their great-great-uncle was.

Just yesterday we found A.A. Milne books designed by him. They were excited! We know a little bit of the distant family stuff, but now I want to find more sources about him beyond those on the general search.

Can any of you help me? Thank you.

Nick Shinn's picture

I can't, but if any of you are interested in old print, you could find a lot of books &c. which featured Lydian, as, along with Albertus, it owned a certain niche/genre of the type spectrum (pardon my mixed metaphor), back in the days when there were relatively few typefaces. Here's a nice "specimen":

oldnick's picture

Here's what the Klingspor Museum has on him...


Quick-and-dirty Babelfish translation from German...

Born 1904 in Richmond/Virginia, died 1991 in Charlottesville/Virginia). Study at the Arts Students League in New York. 1931 to 1932 training with Rudolf Koch in writing and stamp cuts. Teacher for graphic arts and administrative member the Arts Students League. As Illustrator and typographic advisors for the Book of the Month club actively.

typerror's picture

Lois. I am a fellow "Richmonder" as was his cousin Oscar Ogg, another integral figure in the design of their time. Much of his work I think is housed at the UVA library. I have many of his original books. I will contact one of his later collaborators, Rick Cusick (A Proverbial Bestiary) and see what I can find out about obtainable material. His study with Rudolf Koch was seminal in his long and industrious career, he brought Bauhaus back to the states. Your uncle was a true master calligrapher, type designer, book designer and is known by many and his work is loved by all. A true giant amongst his peers.

Michael Clark

typerror's picture

I searched A proverbial Bestiary and there are many available. It is a delightful little book that your uncle did the illustrations for in 82 and Rick Cusick did the lettering. Look for a good copy but do not pay more than 20$ for it. It was a small run by TBW which was Rick's printer/publisher in New England. It would be wonderful to sit down with the kids with this gem.

AdamC's picture

I hate to send you to Wikipedia (not sure how reliable it may be in this case), but there's an entry about Warren Chappell. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Chappell

kentlew's picture

Lois — Welcome to Typophile!

Your uncle was indeed an important and respected illustrator and book designer.

I grew up with the Winnie-the-Pooh books Chappell designed for E. P. Dutton & Co., and they are still treasured items in my collection (if a little worse for wear than most).

You’re probably already aware of the series of children’s books retelling operatic stories that your uncle illustrated (developed with John Updike). These are delightful books and nice examples of his illustration style.

In addition to being a prolific illustrator, he was also an important book designer. Since he did much of his work in this area for Alfred A. Knopf, and since Knopf books almost always included thorough colophons (statements at the back of the book giving information and credits about the type, design, and production), it is fairly easy to identify Knopf books that Chappell worked on.

Many that I’ve come across include his personal mark. Here is an example for you:

I don’t know if anyone has ever compiled a complete bibliography of Chappell’s works (that would be a nice thesis project for some graduate student to tackle some day).

But if you go the ABEBooks and do a search with “Chappell, Warren” as author, you’ll discover plenty of used and collectible books that he worked on (not just as author).

The search I just ran returned 1366 results, ranging in price from a few dollars up to $2500 (a Knopf first American edition of Sartre signed by the author).

Something that might be of interest to you in particular is a handmade book that Chappell made and sent as a Christmas greeting in 1935. You may not be in a position to acquire it (at $960), but you might contact the bookseller and see if he’d be willing to snap a few pictures of it and give you more information. Couldn’t hurt to ask.

In terms of authorship, Chappell’s A Short History of the Printed Word is considered a classic among overviews of printing history and the history of books.

— Kent.

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