February 7

"This Is A Printing Office" by Beatrice Warde

On this day in 1941, Daniel Berkeley Updike acceded to a request from the Typophiles to write a short introduction to the collection of wartime letters which Beatrice Warde wrote from London to her mother in New York. This compilation was published as one of the Typophile Chap Books under the title, Bombed But Unbeaten.

“Since Mr. Paul Bennett suggested, in behalf of the Typophiles, that I should contribute to this book a brief appreciation of Mrs. Warde’s services to Typography, I have been thinking how best to fulfill my promise to do so; and the more I considered the matter, the less I felt that Mrs. Warde’s contribution to the history and practice of typography were any more important than the spirit she had brought to her investigations. In so saying, I do not underrate the value of her admirable work in the important tractate on Jean Jannon of Sedan—published over the pseudonym of Paul Beaujon in 1926—in which she cleared away the mists which long obscured the provenance of types attributed to Garamond; the excellent occasional addresses appearing in The Fleuron and Signature, and elsewhere on various aspects of typography, and the ingenious and thoughtful promotional papers, that since 1927 have appeared in the Monotype Recorder. Yet I feel that the qualities of patience, resourcefulness, courage, and imagination that have marked these investigations and conclusions are but part of a much larger achievement.”

Beatrice Warde, or BW as she is known to her friends in every part of the world, is the author of the famous inscription, This Is a Printing Office. Written in 1932, it has been translated into a score of languages and may be seen in thousands of printing establishments throughout the world, including the door of the United States Government Printing Office where it is cast in bronze.

This is a Printing Office

Crossroads of Civilization

Refuge of all the Arts against

the Ravages of Time

Armory of Fearless Truth Against

Whispering Rumor

Incessant Trumpet of Trade

From This Place Words May Fly Abroad

Not to Perish on Waves of Sound

Not to Vary with the Writer’s Hand

But Fixed in Time, Having Been,

Verified by Proof

Friend, You Stand on Sacred Ground

This is a Printing Office

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