December 20

Appearing far down in the obituary page of The Boston Sunday Herald for December 21, 1958 was a short notice stating that George Trenholm, type designer, had died the previous day in his home in Weston. An eight-line paragraph covered his career, which is probably just the way he would have wished it. One feature of the notice would no doubt have pleased him, also, and that was the heading, which was set in the Metro type designed by his very good friend, William A. Dwiggins of neighboring Hingham, who had died just two years earlier, less a week.

The obituary stated that Trenholm was a native of Cambridge and had lived at Weston for thirty-two years. “He was, for many years, consultant and type designer for the Intertype Corp., and was past president of the Society of Printers and a member of the Salamagundi Club and the Typophiles Club.”

Thus easily disposed of was a graphic arts career which had begun in 1905 when Trenholm completed high school and followed a natural bent for drawing by going to work for a small art studio. He continued his education during evening hours by studying painting with Charles Heil and attending the graphic arts classes conducted by the well-informed Vojtěch Preissig at the Wentworth Institute. In 1916 he established his own studio and quickly acquired the reputation of versatility which marked his career, working with advertising agencies, printing firms, and typefounders.

The famous Catalog 25-A of the Chicago typefoundry, Barnhart Brothers & Spindler, the last ever issued by that concern, showed Trenholm’s first effort as a type designer, a series named Trenholm Oldstyle, with italic, shaded capitals, and a boldface. For the same foundry Trenholm also created a useful series of ornaments and piece borders.

In 1940 the Intertype firm named Trenholm its typographic consultant, and from this connection came a series of decorative initials to be used with the Egmont type, and an excellent book type named Cornell, this title no doubt being suggested by the Intertype president, who happened to be a trustee of Cornell University.

Trenholm’s one paragraph obituary did not mention his warmth and friendliness as a person, his willingness to be of assistance to anyone who called upon him. Working quietly and with reserve, George Trenholm never reached for the glaring light of publicity enjoyed by men with similar artistic capabilities, but among the graphic artists of our time he was of the first rank. He will never be forgotten by those privileged to be his friends.

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