December 30, 2010 Comments Off on Heritage Press – R.v.R. by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1954)
R.v.R. – The Life of Rembrandt Van Rijn by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1954)
Sandglass Number: Issued without a Sandglass, see below
Artwork – Illustrated with one hundred and fifty paintings, drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, which were selected and arranged by J. B. Neumann
Fourth printing, originally printed in June 1939.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – I really like how the Heritage Press utilized a famous painting for the binding in this series. It certainly makes it stand out! This book was originally designed by John S. Fass. This is a later reprint of the work, done after the second World War was underway and George Macy was operating under budget restrictions due to the war effort. As GMD member featherwate explains (in reference to another book under the Reprint banner):
The Heritage Reprint (HR) series published during the 1940s. Michael Bussacco does not cover these in his reference works, presumably because they were issued (usually issued?) without Sandglasses and in a dust jacket rather than a slipcase (although this copy of the Sonnets does have a slipcase…). I’ve never seen one in the flesh, only the pictures on your blog of the HR Rembrandt biography.
As this was a wartime initiative by George Macy, I assume these volumes were necessarily of lower quality than the normal Heritage Press books and issued in larger numbers for sale through bookshops. Lower quality doesn’t mean poor quality, but lord knows where Macy managed to find good paper!
Apparently they were also available free to Heritage Press subscribers: according to a 1943 report of the Consumers Union of United States, Inc.:
“With each fourth book purchased [as part of the 12 book subscription] a member may select as a free bonus one of the cheaper Heritage Reprints.
Back Binding – Like Goya’s, it wraps around to the back.
Van Loon did not receive a second opportunity to be printed by the LEC or Heritage Press, but he did contribute introductions to two LECs: The Cloister and the Hearth and In Praise of Folly. Rembrandt would not see a second chance to illustrate a Macy book.
Title Page – As mentioned above, the most attention on this page is the “New York: The Heritage Reprints” tag on this title page. It’s the first time I’ve seen that particular branch of the Heritage Press in one of their books. Even my former copy of This is the Hour states that it is by the Heritage Press. Sandglasses and slipcases were omitted for the HR series in favor of dust jackets, and these were sold in stores, as best as I can guess. It also lists the printing history of the book, another unusual occurrence in the Macy oeuvre.
At any rate, J. B. Neumann was again responsible for choosing the artwork and arranging it.
Dust Jacket – Here’s the oddity in the Heritage family: a surprisingly nondescript dust jacket that proclaimed it’s a reprint of the Heritage Press original, with Rembrandt’s paintings inside, its design by John S. Fass, and some history behind the book itself on the back.
Dust Jacket Flap (both sides had the same text) – $3.95, eh? Not a bad price! It’s my proof that it was probably not sold directly by the Press, but in bookshops.
Personal Notes – I was given this book by a good friend of my wife and I, Lois, after she discovered this particular edition was a Heritage Press copy (the same person who traded Robert Browning books with me). It intrigued me due to its dust jacket and calling itself a Heritage Press reprint, and even going so far as to state how many books per edition had been printed (a very uncommon move for the Press). I no longer have it though, as I’m not all that interested in biographies on classical painters. I have seen a couple other Reprints since I originally wrote this post, but I can’t recall them at present. They are pretty rare, though, in the grand scheme of the Heritage Press output!
Thanks to featherwate for some elaboration on the Heritage Reprint series.
Updated 7/9/2015 by JF
December 28, 2010 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (unstated, 1950)
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (unstated, 1950)*
Sandglass Number 11N
Artwork: Illustrations by Rockwell Kent
Introduced by Walt Whitman, and is a complete, unabridged Deathbed edition of his work.
Exclusive to the Heritage Press, with a limited 1000 copy print run bound in Moroccan leather and signed by Rockwell Kent. This entry is on the standard edition. The Limited Editions Club did two other editions of Leaves of Grass I will cover below.
Click the images for a larger view.
Front Binding – A very nice shade of green for the boards and a distinctive gold inlay that both conveys the title and author initials in one fell swoop. I imagine that the leather version must look quite lovely. The book was designed by Rockwell Kent and William A. Kittredge. I’ll let Django6924 share additional insights with you:
The Sandglass in my copy (which is very interesting as it opens with a sombre section describing the anxieties of the times what with the threat of Communism and the fresh memories of WW II), mentions that the co-designer of the book, William A. Kittredge, had already “met his reward in heaven,” which makes me believe the book may have been produced some time before the 1950 date. (A quick Google search revealed Mr. Kittredge passed away in 1945.)
The book was designed by Kent himself in collaboration with typographer Kittredge of The Lakeside Press. It is set in Bodoni and the grass-green linen binding, the cloth originally made for window shades, was chosen by Kent who also designed the monogram on the front board–the initials “WW” drawn to resemble blades of grass. A great book.
Wikipedia mentions 1936 as a year for an edition of Leaves of Grass on Kent’s page, so perhaps we can point to that as a pub date? It is conceivable, as the Heritage Press began that year.
Speaking of Mr. Kent, I’m a little surprised to see his input so limited to the George Macy Company. Beyond this lovely edition, he also supplied his talent to Samuel Butler’s Erewhon for the LEC in 1934, but that’s where the contributions cease. Perhaps Kent’s shift in political ideals and becoming president of a Communist organization for the International Workers Order in the 1940’s had something to do with it. Macy was very much an American patriot, and I imagine Kent’s decision to be so radical ended up severing their ties for good. Django6924 had this to add about this topic:
I expect, as mentioned in Jerry’s blog, that Macy and Kent weren’t on the best of terms. In his pre-LEC/Heritage Press days, Macy had partnered in a small publishing company that produced newer writings, often of a mildly erotic nature, but also mysteries, adventures such as the inimitable Cursed Be the Treasure, and books about the early movie stars such as Valentino and Fairbanks.
One of the mildly erotic works was American Esoterica, a collection of short works which had probably been written for periodical publication but rejected because of concerns over charges of pruriency. This book was illustrated by Kent. Kent did Leaves of Grass for the Heritage press in the mid 30s and Erewhon for the LEC in 1934, then nothing after that. Was it his involvement with the Stalinist Soviet Union and Communism that caused the riff? Macy definitely was a patriot, but one should keep in mind that the LEC subscribers were, on the whole, much more conservative than Macy himself, and may have voiced a dislike of having their books illustrated by Kent. Macy frequently complimented Kent’s work in the Monthly Letters–his work on Moby Dick and especially on Candide–so Macy didn’t let his political views color his critical appreciation. Or was it just that Kent was probably the highest paid commercial artist in America, and may have been outside Macy’s budget?
Leaves of Grass is a curiously popular book in the Macy library. Not only is there this fine edition, but there’s TWO unique Limited Editions Club versions, issued in 1929 (the second book the Club ever put out!) and 1942. The ’29 “First Edition” printing featured Frederic Warde’s typographic touch and an introduction by Carolyn Wells, while the later ’42 has the photographs of Edward Weston and Mark Van Doren’s words providing a preface. I do not know if the 1942 edition is the First Edition or Deathbed edition of Whitman’s work, but I’ll update this when I find out. Whitman’s Song of the Open Road would also become a LEC in the Shiff years, in 1990 to be precise, with Aaron Siskind giving it some photogravure magic. Not too bad for someone known for one major work! Whitman deserves the attention!
Spine – Declaring Kent’s involvement and that the book is complete and unabridged made my heart flutter upon spotting it. It’s great that the Heritage Press went with the Deathbed edition, as there are many lovely poems Whitman composed well after the first printing of his opus. I love how they reused the classy inlay on the spine multiple times, too.
Title Page – The lone colored illustration Kent did in this book is reserved for here, likely representing “Song of Myself”, Whitman’s most famous poem. The inlay from the front is again used here, but with four years buried within the dirt. I’m not quite sure what they picked those particular years beyond being important ones in American history (Django points out that yes, that was the intent: “The four dates buried in the earth on the title page are 1492 (Columbus landed), 1607 (the founding of Jamestown), 1776 (of course), and 1861, the outbreak of the War Between the States.”
I think Kent was a fine choice to be the illustrator, as you’ll see below.
Personal Notes – The poetry of Walt Whitman hit me like a brick when I first discovered him, and he quickly became my favorite poet. Ever since I became enraptured with these books, I wanted Leaves of Grass. It took me 6 years to find this, my lone acquisition one time I went to a library book sale in Oakhurst in September 2010 (where I got my first massive haul before, as they’ve been my biggest supplier!). And my delight at it being unabridged and with Rockwell Kent of all people doing the art…I was ecstatic. I collect Whitman books no matter the press, but FINALLY grabbing a Heritage Press edition made my day and then some.
Whitman has a beautiful way of stating things with his poems, some of which have floored me with their straightforward grace. I recommend him if you want some thoughtful, inspiring, different poetry.
* = The book has no year stated on its copyright page, but Django was able to help me narrow down the likely publication year of this printing to 1950. Here’s what he had to say about it:
Mine also has an inked stamp–possibly put in by the original owner–with a date of May 2, 1950. This coincides nicely with the information in Bussacco’s Checklist that it was the next-to-last book in Series N which ran from June 1949–May 1950. The Checklist is less helpful when it comes to determining if this edition is a reprint of the FIRST Heritage Press Leaves of Grass which was the 2nd book in Series A, which ran from June 1937–May 1938.
Judging by the Wikipedia page for Kent, I think we can confirm that Leaves of Grass in Series A to be the same as this one, but as the first printing. Thanks so much for all the info, Django!
Updated 7/13/2012 JF
December 27, 2010 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde (1937)
The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde (1937)
Sandglass Number V:17
Artwork: Stone lithographs by Zhenya Gay
Introduced by Burton Rascoe
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #87/8th Series V. 5 in 1937
Click the picture to see larger images.
Front Binding – This is bound with leather product, as the Sandglass calls it – put together by combing off-cuts of skins into a hopper alongside plastic materials. It’s called leatherlen, and is said to outlast standard leather. The gray is intentional, meant to simulate a granite block. It was stamped twice with two different dies, one sunk in to create the wall, and another embossed upon the cover for the bars. Quite distinctive. Designed by John S. Fass, who also designed the LEC edition of this book, as well as the LEC’s of Herman Melville’s Typee and Apulieus’ The Golden Ass. He created his own press, the Hammer Creek Press, in 1950, and went on designing his own limited editions. As usual, thanks to Django2694 for the info!
Zhenya Gay only worked on two Limited Editions Club titles, but she most certainly left a lasting impression with this and Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, done in 1930 as her first commission. Following this Gay would cease her involvement with the George Macy Company, but she kept up illustrating for many more books, focusing on children’s titles and becoming keenly fascinated with animals, quite the switch from illustrating two of the darkest and more adult-oriented books in the Macy canon.
As for Oscar Wilde, I get into his publishing history in my Salome post. I will state here that this was the first work of Wilde’s done by the LEC or Heritage Press, and what a book it is.
Title Page – Gay was an ideal choice for this book’s illustrations. Her haunting style fits the dark poetry Wilde crafted while in Reading Gaol perfectly. The type was designed by John S. Fass, and the Heritage edition duplicates the LEC pages via photography of the original proofs. The type itself is Egmont, imported from Holland and created by S. H. de Roos. Burton Rascoe provides the introduction. Lastly, the paper was supplied by the International Paper Company, and is supposed to last for two centuries at minimum. This was a book meant to last, it seems.
Page 1 – Among my favorite illustrations in any Heritage/LEC book. Incredible.
Personal Notes – This I picked up at my hometown’s library in Mariposa, I believe. The cover caught my eye, and the amazing art committed me to a purchase. I still consider it one of the better books by the press, after acquiring so many others following it.
Unlike Salome, which did little for me, I did enjoy this work a lot. It’s by no means a happy piece, but it does provide a fascinating glimpse into a man watching another’s final days before his death, and is an exquisitely designed book.
December 22, 2010 § 2 Comments
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1938)
Sandglass Number XII: 26
Artwork: Paintings and drawings by Gordon Ross
Introduction by John T. Winterich
Part of the Heritage Dickens series (distinction of the Heritage Press); the LEC did their own 2-volume Pickwick Papers in 1933 with John Austen’s illustrations.
Front Binding – All of the Dickens books initially put out by the Heritage Press have this binding detail, although some have different linen colors to help distinguish them. The spine is where the major difference from the other books lurks, as you’ll see below. All were designed by Clarence Hornung. Another neat thing about this line of books is that the Heritage Press made all of them the same size. All are 6 x 9 inches, and they seem to all have come with red slipcases (the two Dickens I own feature them, as have others I’ve seen in stores). This book was bound by Frank D. Fortney with Interlaken British grey linen (as the Sandglass describes the color). The front and back are identical.
Dickens was hugely popular with both the LEC and Heritage Press, as both put out several (if not all) of his books. The first LEC was, curiously, The Chimes. Not his most well-known work, but hey, whatever works! The Chimes came out in 1933 with Arthur Rackham’s visual talent. After an initial frenzy of five books in the 1930’s, he would be given a considerable reprieve until 1957, and the LEC would follow with three more in the ’60’s and ’70’s for a grand total of nine. The Heritage Press didn’t take any sort of hiatus, though, starting off with an exclusive David Copperfield (with John Austen doing the art), and then began this lovely series that were mostly original and unique to their Club. You can check out the Heritage Exclusives list for the entire list.
If you don’t mind, I’ll take a very brief diversion to talk about the first six Heritage Press books. When the Heritage Press got started, they kicked off with a special set that LEC members were offered first. These were done up a little fancier and featured a signature of the artist somewhere within. 1500 copies were made of these, much like the LEC limitation. Macy had suggested to his LEC clientele that perhaps the Eighth Series of LEC’s could be delayed for these special Heritage books to not cause financial duress to the membership. Naturally, there was a slight outrage, so Macy went ahead and put them both out at the same time. This enabled LEC members to cancel their Heritage order if they so wanted. The six books in question includes the David Copperfield I mentioned, plus A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman (Edward A. Wilson), Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Sylvain Sauvage), The Song of Songs (Valenti Angelo), The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone (W.A. Dwiggins), and Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost (Pierre Brissaud). This info is from the LEC Newsletter for Tristram Shandy, the eleventh book of the seventh series in 1935. From what Django6924 at Librarything recalls, David Copperfield was first, meaning that Dickens launched the Heritage Press (to bring this back around)!
Gordon Ross, the illustrator for the Heritage Pickwick, was a fairly busy artist for the George Macy Company, with at minimum two exclusive Heritage books (this and Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon) and four LEC’s, including two other Dickens works. These were A Christmas Carol (1934) and Great Expectations (1937). Obviously he was well suited to the characters of Mr. Dickens! I have a Heritage The Coverly Letters (the LEC came out in 1945), one of the other two LEC’s he was involved in, with the other being The Jaunts and Jollies of Mr. John Jorrocks (1932). We’ll see Mr. Ross again sometime soon.
Spine – Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Snodgrass adorn the spine, taken from Gordon Ross’ paintings.
Title Page – Ross did eight paintings in this book, alongside drawings to introduce each chapter. You’ll get to see three of those paintings and an example of the chapter openers here. The text is Baskerville, designed by John Baskerville. Printed by Case, Lockwood & Brainard of Hartford, CT with paper specially made for this book provided by Crocker-Burkack Comany of Fitchburg, MA.
Personal Notes – I picked this up along with six other books in the first great Heritage Press haul I made, which took place at an Oakhurst library book sale. I acquired Nostromo, A Tale of Two Cities, Rights of Man, Toilers of the Sea and the two volumes of Les Miserables at the same sale. A considerable accomplishment! All for $2 a book and all of them complete, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, I did snag 50 books for $50 in 2012, which dwarfs this considerably, but for a long time it was the best acquisition I had.
I’ve not read this one quite yet. I’ve dabbled with Dickens with A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol, but I’ve yet to get through an entire work of his. I’m not through with him, though! The Sandglass does a considerable job of hyping this up as one of his best.
The LEC version of The Pickwick Papers features illustrator John Austen, but I’m not sure of any other differences these two variants may have beyond the design and artwork. Any enlightenment would appreciated! If you have that info, let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! Thanks!
Updated 5/28/2012 – JF
December 20, 2010 § 6 Comments
Salome by Oscar Wilde (1945)
Sandglass Number 3NN
Artwork: Decorated and hand-illuminated by Valenti Angelo.
Translated from the French by Lord Alfred Douglas, and introduced by Holbrook Jackson
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC put out a 2-volume set for Salome in 1938 that is discussed below.
Click on the images to see full-size.
Front Binding – Even before opening this book you can tell it’s something special. Mine has sadly faded to a significant degree, but its charming boards (this design is on both sides) make a strong impression regardless. Illustrator Valenti Angelo was also responsible for the design of the book. As for how the binding was made, I’ll let Django6924 explain:
The black cloth binding was purchased by the Macy companies before WW II and had sat in warehouses until its use in Salome. It was made by Interlaken Mills in Arkwright, RI, a specialist in making cloth for book covers. Salome was issued in October, 1945.
Oscar Wilde seemed to be a favorite for the George Macy Company. The Ballad of Reading Gaol came first in 1937, followed by the LEC Salome. This edition for the Heritage Press followed in 1945. The Picture of Dorian Gray was released in 1957, followed by his Short Stories in 1968. Two of his plays, The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Wintermere’s Fan, were the last, released in 1973. That covers the majority of his popular literary output.
Valenti Angelo was one of the more productive of Macy’s artists, producing eleven Limited Editions Club books and three unique Heritage Press books, which is very impressive. He was busy elsewhere, too, as I’ve seen his name attached to quite a few books outside of the Macy sphere. So far, our blog features The Sonnets of Shakespeare, A Thousand Nights and a Night, The Song of Roland and this particular book, but there’s plenty more to come. He has a simplistic yet charming style that well suits the books he works on.
Since I’ve omitted it before, here’s a complete chronology of Angelo’s work. For the LEC, it began with A Thousand Nights and a Night in 1934, where he did 1001 illustrations! Next was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables in 1935. The LEC Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam followed in 1935 (quite different than Arthur Szyk’s spin, I imagine). The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yazdi was released in 1937. 1938 brought The Song of Roland. Vathek: An Arabian Tale was mailed out in 1945. The lovely Sonnets of the Portuguese came next in 1948. The stunning Koran was released ten years later in 1958. The Book of Psalms came out in 1960, followed up by The Book of Proverbs in 1963. The last was another Hawthorne work, Twice-Told Tales, published in 1966. The editions Angelo exclusively did for the Heritage Press include Salome, The Sonnets of Shakespeare (1941), and The Song of Songs (1935).
Title Page – If this didn’t floor you, I don’t know what book would. Gorgeously decorated yellow pages that have been specially cut (the top is uncut, giving each page added thickness), and EVERY single page in this book has an amazing border similar to this, all done by Angelo. Salome herself is boldly colored in a way that suits the page background, too. The gold was hand-illuminated by Angelo himself in early printings. The text is Garamond Bold, and works with the pages perfectly. A masterwork.
Page 20 – 21
Personal Notes – I had heard of the beauty of Salome from Django6924 before owning it, and my wife managed to uncover this copy at an antique mall in Merced. I was eager to see why Django thought of it so highly, and I was certainly not disappointed. This is among the most stunning books the Heritage Press put out, without question. I paid $8 (half off that day!) for it. That’s way more than I would usually fork out for a sun-faded HP book with no Sandglass or slipcase, but this was an exception well worth making.
Despite its exquisiteness, though, I found the play itself to be a little too repetitive for my liking. My loss, perhaps?
Django6924 was able to fill in a lot of the missing gaps, so enjoy his explanation behind the creation of this majestic book:
The Sandglass gives much biographical information about Mr. Angelo, but what will be of particular interest here is that he got his start in the book business illustrating books for the Grabhorn Press in San Francisco, and did indeed illustrate a Salome for them years before–an exceedingly rare edition, obviously, as I have never seen a copy of it online or in any bookstore.
Also interesting is the considerable space given in the Sandglass to the LEC Salome, which was, in fact, two books–the one illustrated by (Andre) Derain (most unusually on black paper) and printed in French (which is how Wilde wrote it). The second Salome (housed in the same slipcase), featured Lord Alfred Douglas’ translation into English–the version by which the play is most familiar to we English-speaking types. This volume is illustrated with the well-known drawings Aubrey Beardsley had made for the English publication of his translation.
The Introduction by Holbrook Jackson was used in both LEC and Heritage Press editions.
The Sandglass goes on to point out that this Salome resulted from the success of the similar hand-illuminated Heritage Press Song of Songs, that was one of the first 6 books issued by the Heritage Press. That book, too, is a treasure, especially if you find one of the earlier editions bound in red leather.
Sandglass (courtesy of Django6924):
Updated 5/28/2012 – JF
December 16, 2010 § 2 Comments
The Poems of W.B. Yeats (1970)
Unknown Volume Number (I lack a Sandglass for this one – help would be appreciated!)
Artwork: Drawings by Robin Jacques
Selected, Edited, and with an Introduction by William York Tindall
Part of the LEC/Heritage Press British Poet Masters series (my own designation)
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC # 425 /38th Series V. 3 in 1970
Click images to see larger versions.
Front Binding – Graced with a trio of drawings of two swans surrounded by roses on both sides. This is a former library copy, which you will notice library stamps and numbering on the later pictures. I sold it off a while ago and hope to reacquire a nicer copy. I did not have a Sandglass for this, so the book’s designer is unknown to me. If you have that info, please let me know.
W.B. Yeats is one of Ireland’s premiere poets (if not the premiere poet), and the Limited Editions Club gave him his due in two editions, this and a collection of Irish Folk Tales he edited and introduced, which was printed in 1973.
Spine – An atrocious white-out blotch on the spine showcases it was a library book at one time.
Title Page – Jacques’ illustrations are pretty incredible. He only did two books for the LEC, this and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, which preceded this by eight years. He was a fairly prominent book illustrator in the ’60’s and ’70’s. I’ve seen his work in a few other books in the bookshops I’ve worked at. Anyway, this particular copy originally belonged to a family named the Sampsons, who donated it among many others to the Livingston, California Library after the owner’s death. Well, that’s what I gather from the library stamp. I’ve had The Poems of Shakespeare and The Poems of Robert Browning in my collection, as well as spotting a few others in my library check-outs.
The lighting was not in my favor the day I took these, but I no longer have the book. I’ll update these when I reacquire it.
Personal Notes – This, The Poems of Shakespeare and The Poems of Robert Browning all ended up landing at a college anthropology club book sale while my wife and I were members of the club. I paid $1 each for them (and got two for free, The Song of Roland and Henrik Ibsen’s Three Plays), so it was a fairly good haul, despite the library markings. I gave the Browning book to a dear friend of mine who gave me a different Browning Heritage Press book, The Ring and the Book. I would love to have a copy that is not an ex-library copy. I find this book to be quite enchanting, and Jacques’ art is quite insane and awesome. I sold it off to aid in my purchasing of The Shaving of Shagpat.
Django6924 chips in this information on the LEC version of the book:
The LEC edition was the third volume in the 38th Series, which ran from January 1970 to April 1971. The edition was designed by John Dreyfus and printed at The Thistle Press. The full page B&W drawings by Jacques were hand-colored in the studios of Walter Fischer (and are lovely), and the book is bound in quarter green morocco leather and green linen boards. A black oval embossed portrait (in what appears to be leather) of Yeats on the front cover is the only decoration on the binding. (I must say, I wish instead of the portrait they had embossed the drawing of the wild swans at Coole that the Heritage book used–frankly Yeats would not have approved the likeness of him.)
I am seeking some info for this book – namely, the designer of it and the Sandglass volume number. If you have that info, let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! Thanks!
Updated 5/28/2012 – JF
December 15, 2010 Comments Off on Heritage Press: William Tell by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1952)
William Tell by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1952)
Artwork: Illustrations by Rafaello Busoni
Introduction by Thomas Carlyle, translated from the German by Theodore Martin
Heritage Press Exclusive: The LEC did their own version with Charles Hug’s illustrations in 1951.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding –
This is a curious book, one with two separate issuings with their own unique artwork. The Limited Editions Club created their rendition of this book in 1951, but it features artwork by Charles Hug instead of the Heritage edition’s Rafaello Busoni. According to Django6924, who has a copy of the LEC, the binding is made out of a grayish-green wood that has very straight grain. Unfortunately, he feels that this is fragile-looking, so he is hesitant to read it. Perhaps it is from a tree found in Switzerland? It features the same crossbow, but it’s laid into the wood in gold. Hug’s lithographs are similar in style to Busoni’s, but for some reason the Heritage Press went with Busoni over reprinting Hug’s. Very curious. The Sandglass does not explain why the artists were changed, other than saying that the Heritage edition went with Busoni to do its illustrations. It’s looking quite probable that we may never know.
Mr. Busoni began his career with the George Macy Company with Stendhal’s The Red and the Black in 1947, and would do two more LEC projects along this Heritage exclusive before his death in 1962: Nathaniel Hawthrone’s take on Pandora’s Box for a set of Evergreen Tales, and his final commission, The Charterhouse of Parma, also by Stendhal. Apparently, if the German Wikipedia page is to be believed, Busoni was the winner of one of George Macy’s competitions, presumably for The Red and the Black, the first work he did for them.
Von Schiller only had this one sole play done by the LEC or Heritage Press. His story is rather interesting, but I’ll let the Sandglass explain.
Design Notes – The book was designed by Max Fretz of Fretz Freres of Zurich, Switzerland, with a quite appropriate crossbow etched into the front. The back is bare. The publisher was Walter Diethelm, utilizing his own Diethelm-Antiqua font for the text, which gives it some flourish. The printers even designed this to resemble classic Swiss books, a novelty for American Heritage Club members.
Title Page – Although a Swiss classic, the play originated from a German, and Von Schiller never visited Switzerland. He thoroughly poured over the histories of the country written by Tschudi and Schleuchzer, and managed to create what the Sandglass refers to as “their great drama of patriotism” without ever stepping into its borders. Pretty interesting. Thomas Carlyle offered his opinion of the play in an introduction, and Theodore Martin rendered it into English from the native German.
Examples of the Illustrations by Busoni (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I purchased this from the Oakhurst library book sale for $4.00. It did not come with the slipcase, but I found a decent replacement through one of the Connecticut books, so it’s sort of complete. I think this cover is one of the best of the Heritage Press line-up. It’s just so fitting. However, I didn’t foresee myself reading this, so I sold it some time ago.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
Updated 8/9/2014 – JF