The Picture Dictionary-Part II

In my last post, I wrote about the two volumes I had purchased of The Picture Dictionary, which were published in 1952. I had thought about using these dictionaries in my book, Island Times Three, but when I received them, I realized the size and weight of the books would not make sense in the scene I had written.

They’re still pretty heavy!

     When I opened the books, I noticed an inscription in each volume:

Volume I inscription
Volume II inscription

     Just who was Lou Dorfsman? Here are some of the search results:

     As it turns out, he was kind of a big deal.

     Lou Dorfsman was a graphic designer, and he joined CBS in 1946 as an assistant to Bill Golden, who designed the iconic “eye.” He was in charge of the CBS Radio Network, and created hundreds of print advertising ads that utilized illustrations from various artists, and in 1952 he created an ad that marked Andy Warhol‘s first commercial appearance in print.

When Mr. Golden died in 1952, Mr. Dorfsman was promoted to Creative Director of CBS Television. Five years later, he was named head design director of the entire Columbia Broadcasting System. Hailed as Mr. Dorfsman’s ultimate achievement is his 33-foot long, 8-foot high, three-dimensional collage of food and food-related words created in 1964.

Saving “Lou’s Wall”

     The wall, entitled Gastrotypographicalassemblage, is made up of over 1,450 letters, 270 words and 250 typefaces. According to an article in, a graphic design firm, “Dorfsman created the initial comps and commissioned the creation of the first panel. Once the first panel

was completed, Dorfsman enlisted his lifetime friend Herb Lubalin, the legendary designer and typographer, to concept the remaining panels. Tom Carnase meticulously hand lettered the final comps, and a team of carpenters and sculptors set to work. Each letter was hand milled out of thick pine. In addition to words, the Gastrotypographicalassemblage is dotted with food imagery, from sausages to seltzer bottles to loaves of bread.”

Lou Dorfsman and the CBS Wall video to help restore the wall

     After a change of leadership at CBS in 1989, the wall was dismantled and thrown into a dumpster. Dismayed, Mr. Dorfsman, who had retired from CBS in 1987, called designer Nick Fasciano, and he rushed to the CBS building and transported the panels to his Long Island home.  They sat in storage for 20 years, slowly deteriorating.
     After years of restoration, the wall has a new home at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

CBS This Morning Lou Dorfsman Wall Story
CBS Special Movie Presentation promo created by Lou Dorfsman

Lou Dorfsman was 35 years old when he received The Picture Dictionary from his father-in-law for his birthday. He had been promoted to Creative Director at CBS the year before and would spend the next 34 years at the television station. He died in Roslyn, New York, in 2008 at the age of 90.

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