Heritage Press – R.v.R. by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1954)

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.


Sample Page


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

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