Limited Editions Club: The Diary of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (1954)

January 19, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Diary of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (1954)

The Diary of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (1954)
Twenty-Second series, Book #243 (11th in the series)
Artwork: Illustrations drawn by Reginald Marsh, which were colored through stencils
Originally a Heritage Press exclusive.
#1040 out of 1500

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – This book has a vibrant blue binding that is very soft and squishy (for lack of a better word). Django6924 has this information on the book’s design (link leads to post above this particular quotation):

Checking my LEC Bibliography, I see that Mr. Beilenson printed the book, but Moll Flanders was designed by George Macy. The binding is padded silk–“like a lady’s private diary.”

Reginald Marsh, a fairly prominent American painter who took to the Burlesque scene early in his career, which serves him well as the illustrator for Moll Flanders. Django has this to say about Marsh’s career:

Reginald Marsh is one of the half-dozen famous “regional artists” of 20th century America, along with the 3 Midwestern painters Benton, Wood and Curry, and in the East, his contemporary Edward Hopper. Although he did several works for the LEC, Moll Flanders would seem to be an unlikely choice of assignments for the famed chronicler of Coney Island, the Bowery and the burlesque houses and movie theaters on the Lower East Side. But, I think he did a remarkable job, and as WildcatJF pointed out, the burlesque queens he depicted so memorably are distant cousins of the scandalous Ms. Flanders. Marsh’s more typical jobs for Macy were Sister Carrie and his final illustrated book for them, Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, completed just before his death and, as a result, one of the unsigned LECs. The Dreiser work, along with the illustrations he did for Dos Passos’s U.S.A. Trilogy, are his masterpieces of book illustration. Here is a link that tells a little more about him and shows some of his fine art:


Slipcase – The slipcase was wrapped in a beautiful copper foil that compliments the blue binding — alas, mine is falling apart. Django mentions that the same cruelty has befallen both his and a relative’s copies, so it would seem that this foil was not meant to last.

Title Page – Here the book is referred to as “The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders“. This was printed in 1954 by Peter Beilenson in Mt. Vernon. Here’s some more info on Mr. Beilenson from Django:

Printed at his Mt. Vernon press, which was the home of his own famous press, The Peter Pauper Press. Beginning in the Thirties and continuing to his death in 1962, the Peter Pauper Press printed many beautiful letterpress editions of classic works–nothing monumental in scope, but made with wonderful design sense and beautiful materials. The press also designed and printed several special editions for Random House and for the LEC.

Moll Flanders was originally done for the Heritage Press in 1942, which I believe was done with a red binding. Unlike Beowulf, which did the same thing, Marsh did sign his LEC upgrade, but I do not know if Marsh did any further work on this volume like Ward did on his. The book does state that Marsh’s work was colored in the Studio of Martha Berrien through stencils.

Signature Page – Here’s Marsh’s signature.¬† It’s #1040 of 1500.

Page 56 – 57 – A nice piece of revelry and debauchery. I found the vomiting gentlemen in red by the page divide to be a particular highlight for some bizarre reason.

Page 151 – Most of Marsh’s work is in between the book’s text.

Personal Notes – My first trip to Moe’s in Berkeley led to this purchase, a steal at $15. I have a feeling it was so cheap because of the slipcase’s poor condition — it really is a shame that the foil is falling to pieces. I haven’t read Defoe, but I’ve heard of the story of Moll Flanders, and Marsh’s work seems to be a good fit for the tale, so I’m content. And the cushy binding adds a lot to the joy of flipping through it.


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