Heritage Press – Russian Folk Tales (1970)

March 17, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Russian Folk Tales (1970)

This post is the first I’ve done from the Connecticut period of the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press.  After the death of George Macy in 1956, his wife Helen operated the two presses until 1968, when George’s son Jonathan took the reins for two years.  The company was then sold to the Boise Cascade Corporation, who then sold it to Ziff-Davis, who then sold it to Cardavon Press.  The Heritage Press and its Club were later sold separately to the Danbury Mint, who happens to own the Easton Press.  Easton continues to reprint Heritage Press works under their own banner.  The Limited Editions Club, meanwhile, was sold to Sidney Shiff in 1978, who by the late 1980’s had transitioned the Club into a Livres d’Artiste-style of publishing house, severely limiting the amount of books available and getting some of today’s premiere fine artists to illustrate the books, sending their monetary values through the roof.  Shiff passed away in 2010, and his widow Jeanne currently is running the company.  There you go – a very brief history of the George Macy Company post-George Macy.  A more thorough history can be found at Bill Majure’s site here.  At any rate, under these various guises the Heritage Press in the 1970’s began to reprint several of the earlier Heritage Press books in new bindings for their newer customers, but more often than not the reprint quality was not up to the excellence George Macy and his family had set during their tenure.  It is a rare occurrence indeed for a Connecticut-era HP book to exceed (or even match) the earlier New York runs.  It’s that reason that most collectors skip over the Connecticut books whenever possible.  However, the Limited Editions Club, despite changing hands several times during the ’70’s, managed to continue putting out some solid books, and the Heritage reprints of those tend to be more favorable.  This particular book, a collection of Russian Folk Tales, falls under that banner.  As part of my duty here at the blog, I will put up Connecticut editions of prior Heritage Press books as I am able to check them out – I do not wish to expend my personal funds into amassing doubles or inferior copies.  I will buy Connecticut-era books that were made in that period, though, as there is no other substitute.  That being said, let’s begin our Russian Folk Tales post proper.

Russian Folk Tales (1970)
Sandglass Number X:37
Artwork: Watercolors by Teje Etchemendy
Introduced, Selected and Edited by Albert B. Lord
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #432/38th Series, V. 10 in 1970

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – This lovely collection of Russian Folk Tales (hence the name) has been designed by Adrian Wilson.  Stationed in California, Wilson also spent his time digging up fascinating books from the past – the Sandglass mentions his uncovering one of Germany’s earliest printed book’s layouts for The Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493, and the manuscript copy of St. Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, dating back to 1467, in Italy.  Makes sense that he was the author of The Design of Books.  The Sandglass is quite remiss in detailing out the making of the binding, merely stating that “in the festive design of the binding you will observe that the snowflakes…have reappeared – but vertically, this time, as Nature intended!”  Still, despite the lack of information, I find this to be a great book worthy of the Heritage Press name.


Title Page – Albert B. Lord was Harvard’s Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature when this book was published, and seems to be a most excellent choice for this book’s direction.  The Sandglass goes on about him in detail if you’d like to know more about him (see page 3).  He also provides the introduction for the book.  Teje Etchemendy is responsible for this book being published – her pluckiness to send the George Macy Company samples of her work and asking to illustrate such a book prompted the Clubs to get Dr. Lord and Adrian Wilson on board to support her.  Her watercolors are spectacular, as you will see shortly.  She provided twelve full-color paintings and twenty-five line drawings to pad the text, and I think she was a splendid match.  This alas was her only work for the George Macy Company that I’m aware of, but it’s a highlight of the later period of the Club’s life.  Let’s wrap up this section with a brief overview of the publishing history – Wilson chose Palatino, designed by the German Hermann Zapf, to represent the main body of the book’s text.  He used Sapphire Festival for the page numbers and the title – this was also designed by Mr. Zapf.  Printing and composition of the text took place at The Connecticut Printers in Bloomfield, CT, and was printed on creme-white wove stock supplied by the Mohawk Mill in Cohoes, NY to the Press’ specifications.  The Sandglass does not specify who bound the book.

Page 16 – An example of Etchemendy’s line work.  Good stuff, but her watercolors are even better.

Page 29 – Gorgeous.  Her use of color is breathtaking, and it has a great Russian feel, too.  I love this book’s art.

Page 44 – I adore this painting.  It’s so perfect.

Personal Notes – I acquired this from my volunteering at my now-current bookselling appointment in my old (and soon to be current, next spring!) college town.  Again, I’m a little dumbstruck with how many Heritage books I’ve picked up from helping used bookstores out.  Won’t complain, though!  I haven’t read this yet, but I am thrilled about having it.  I wonder how the LEC compares….

Just as a sidenote – I refer to Etchemendy sending The George Macy Company prints to get this book going – it’s a bold assumption that I feel is correct, as it usually took the Club a year or two to properly plan out a book, and it would have been in Helen or Jonathan Macy’s hands at that point.  I don’t think the Cardavon Press, who ended up printing the book, had a whole lot to do with it beyond executing the plans set into motion earlier.  Could be wrong, though…I really have no clue either way.



News: Arthur Szyk Feature at ABEBooks!

March 17, 2011 Comments Off on News: Arthur Szyk Feature at ABEBooks!

ABEBooks recently put up a feature on the great Arthur Szyk, which is full of fascinating facts about his life and his art.  The piece focuses on The Szyk Haggadah, his own stab at a Jewish rite that is practiced by all of the Jewish faith.  Done during World War II, Szyk drew parallels to the story’s plot to the real-world happenings of the time, even modeling one of the characters, the wicked son, after Hitler.  ABEBooks does mention some of Szyk’s contributions to the Macy Companies (without stating the publisher, but some recognition is better than none!) as well, including The Canterbury Tales.  Worth a look if you like his uniquely beautiful illustrations!

Thanks to Django2694 for pointing this out!  I’ll occasionally post up bits of news that tie into the George Macy Companies on top of doing their books, just to let you know.

Heritage Press: The Book of Ballads (1967)

March 13, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Book of Ballads (1967)

The Book of Ballads (1967)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Woodcuts by Fritz Kredel
Selected, edited and introduced by MacEdward Leach
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #394/35th Series V. 8 in 1967 (The Heritage edition is “The HERITAGE Book of Ballads”)

Click to see larger images.

Front Binding – This has striped green boards and a darker green spine.  This is a well-loved library copy, so that’s about all I can say about it!

Title Page – Fritz Kredel, who also illustrated The Warden, provides his distinct woodcuts for this book.  A good fit, I think.  MacEdward Leach offers an introduction on top of his selecting and editing of the ballads.

Old International Ballads Introduction – Kredel’s woodcuts serve as a divider between the ballad’s sections as well as peppering the actual ballads.

Page 18 – An example of a ballad with Kredel’s art.

Personal Notes – A nice book, definitely.  I have seen the LEC original, and if I could, I’d go with that one.  I remember it being quite lovely.  This was from Porterville Library, which I checked out thanks to my Mariposa branch’s regional reservation system.

I could use a heap of help here –any Sandglass info, and comparisons of this to the LEC original would be great.  Please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Heritage Press: The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (1966)

March 13, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (1966)

The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (1966)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrated by Donald Spencer
Introduced by S.C. Roberts
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #378/34th Series V. 4 in 1966.

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding -Hey, I finally got my hands on a proper edition of the book! Ignore the awkward fuzz in the bottom right corner. I imagine my camera strap fell into the shot. Anyway, the boards are a lovely maroon cloth, with the “Vivat Ruritania” seal stamped in gold on the front. Alas, I did not receive a Sandglass with this, so I’m still in the dark as to who designed the book and with what materials.

The Prisoner of Zenda is the sole work of Anthony Hope’s produced by either club. This is his best known work, so I suppose that makes sense. Donald Spencer was also a one-off artist for the LEC, this being his sole contribution. His style is a good match for this work.

Slipcase – A fancy slipcase!

Title Page – The bold illustration by Spencer goes well with the stylistic fonts and smaller illustrations that break up the title and its fellow contributors. S.C. Roberts provides an introduction.

Page 5 – An example of Spencer’s linework that decorate the text throughout. He also did several color plates, another of which you can see below.

Page 142 – Rather nice. This is my favorite in the book.

Personal Notes – I originally checked this book out to document it here, but I recently acquired it with my 50 book haul from the Oakhurst Library. It’s in lovely condition, although the lack of a Sandglass hurts a little. One dollar is an unbeatable price regardless of completion, though!

Any and all info on this book’s design process would be very useful!  If you have a Sandglass or LEC Newsletter, please drop me a line here or through the comments at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Updated 5/29/2012 – JF

Heritage Press: The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France (1953)

March 8, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France (1953)

The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France (1953)
Sandglass Number I:19
Artwork: Etchings by Pierre Watrin
Introduced by Desmond MacCarthy, and translated by Mrs. Wilfrid Jackson
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #239/22nd Series V. 7 in 1953

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Anatole France, the satirical French author who you see all too little reprinting of these days, is the subject of today’s post. This book, The Revolt of the Angels, was the last one printed by the Limited Editions Club, following At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque (1933), The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1937), Penguin Island (1947), and Crainquebille (1949). The first two were illustrated by Sylvain Sauvage (who would also do a special Penguin Islandfor the Heritage Press, among several others), while Malcolm Cameron and Bernard Lamotte supplied illustrations for the last two, respectively. The Heritage Press also did another of his works, The Gods are a-Thrist. Django6924 has this to add about France’s popularity within the Macy Companies:

It is interesting that the Macy companies gave so much attention to Anatole France, who, though a Nobel Prize winner, was certainly not in the upper echelon. Five of his novels found representation in the LEC and one additional Heritage Press only edition of The Gods are a-thirst. This puts him ahead of Thomas Hardy, one of the better represented English novelists (Conrad eventually pulled ahead of France, but a majority of his works were printed after Macy’s tenure–during the time George Macy was in charge, only Dickens was better represented among novelists.)

This particular book has a bit of interesting history to it, as the Club was wanting to publish a fine edition, naturally, but were not receiving sample illustrations that they felt matched the book’s spirit. In fact, they go on record saying that they were “disappointed with these sample drawings”. While in Paris, France’s (the author, not the country) original publisher, Calmann-Levy, was about to unleash their own collector’s edition of Revolt, with etchings done by Sauvage protege Pierre Watrin. Watrin’s work fit the Club’s imagining of their book so perfectly that they gained reprinting rights for the art, and had them reproduced via gravures thanks to the Photogravure and Color Company in New York (for this particular edition, at least). Saul and Lillian Marks of California designed the book, as well as setting the type, a font called Bembo. Django has this to add about the Marks:

The Revolt of the Angels was another production from Saul and Lillian Mark’s Plantin Press in Los Angeles, and the Macys shared HuxleyTheCat’s opinion about their designing and producing skills. In the Monthly Letter on another of the several books from Plantin, Macy wrote that the presswork “was the finest since John Henry Nash went to his reward.” This was the ultimate in praise, as Macy felt that for quality, Nash was unmatched by any printer alive.

HuxleytheCat is a fellow user on LibraryThing, FYI. But here we are still on the binding and I’m prattling on and on. Let’s talk about this! The boards are covered in a “silky material of a midnight-blue color” according to the Sandglass, with a sword adorned with angel wings stamped into the front boards in silver leaf. This blue is a lovely color, but the ink that stained it is incredibly sensitive to fading in the sun, as I’ve seen at least five different copies all afflicted with a grayed, dull spine. Shame, too, as it’s otherwise a nice book.

Title Page – Mrs. Wilfrid Jackson, who spent much of her time translating the works of France it would seem from a quick Googling, seems the right person for the job translating this work. Desmond MacCarthy serves up an Introduction. The book was printed by the Ferris Printing Company in New York, on paper specially made for the Heritage Press by the International Paper Company, which were then bound by Frank Fortney, also of New York.

Page 23 – I think that the LEC was wise to gain the rights to reprinting Watrin’s work, as he has a distinct style that seems to work well. This was his only work for the LEC, which was, as mentioned above, not unique to it. Blog commenter and fellow Macy Devotee featherwate had plenty to say about Watrin’s career following this book:

What the Sandglass doesn’t reveal is that during the seven years that elapsed between Watrin’s etchings appearing in the Calmann-Levy limited edition of the Revolt (1946) and their re-appearance in the LEC/HP editions of 1953, the artist himself seems to have largely abandoned serious book illustration to become an animation artist (and later director). He worked on one of the most famous of French cartoon features, Le Roi et L’Oiseau [English title: The King and the Mocking Bird], which began production in 1948 and was finally completed in – wait for it! – 1980; the delay was caused by studio bankruptcy and arguments over rights. The best-known of his other films is The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976), which he co-directed with Asterix’s creators Goscinny and Uderzo.

It was an interesting change of career for someone who was a star pupil of Sylvain Sauvage and according to the Sandglass had in only eight years established a high reputation as an illustrator and theatre designer. I have to say that most of the few illustrations of his I have found reproduced on the internet are pretty mundane compared to his etchings for Revolt: bread-and-butter pictures in children’s books and strip-cartoon histories of various French provinces (and let’s not overlook Space Mission Health Hygéa 7, a bizarre-sounding medical guide for teenagers[?] issued by the French government).

At http://www.flickr.com/photos/62235807@N02/ I’ve posted a still from Le Roi; the film is in colour but this b&w portrait hanging on a wall seems to have the same graphic wit as Watrin’s etchings for Revolt. I like to think of it as his work.

And I’m sure that’s more than you ever wanted to know about the life and work of Pierre Watrin!

Perhaps more than I wanted to know, but am happy to now know! Thanks!

Page 30 – There’s some in-text art as well.

Page 83

Personal Notes – This is one of the most common Heritage Press books I’ve seen, as least where I live.  My old bookshop gig had one, the last shop I worked at had one, I bought this documented one at a local library sale…it’s sort of bizarre how often I see this. I also spot it in the Bay Area a lot. Compared to France’s other books (which are rarer for me to spot), Revolt seems to follow me around. :p I bought the copy I have now at Second Time Around in Merced (the last shop I worked at), which had a slipcase and was generally a nicer condition. Since the initial writing of this post I have acquired the later Heritage printing of Penguin Island, and would like to get the others. I read this and absolutely loved it, so I want to get all of his books! :)

I also happen to have a delightful Penguin Island printing by Dodd, Mead in the late 1920’s that is illustrated wonderfully by Frank C. Pape. He did a series of France’s work for that publisher following France’s Nobel Prize win. Unfortunately, Pape never collaborated with the George Macy Company, but you can take a look at the Dodd, Mead Revolt here, if you’d like to compare.

Another interesting thing that happened with this book for me is the inclusion of a second Sandglass, for the Heritage Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, a book I have never laid eyes on (and not for lack of trying!). It is some relief to know that if I ever do stumble upon one I won’t need it to have a Sandglass inside it as a determining factor (although I’d probably buy it on the spot considering how scarce it is). Curiously, the second copy I bought had a Sandglass for Washington Irving’s History of New York if I remember correctly. So, look inside copies of Revolt for unexpected Sandglasses!


Updated 7/29/2012 JF

Limited Editions Club: Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodes (1957)

March 3, 2011 § 6 Comments

Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodes (1957)
Series, Book # 292 (6th of the series)
Artwork: Illustrations by A. Tassos
Translated by Edward P. Coleridge, and introduced by Moses Hadas
#220 out of 1500

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Right off, this is a distinctive book.  The bold design caught my eye, and seeing the quality extended throughout the book made me more than excited upon stumbling upon it.  Since I scored the Newsletter and Announcement Pamphlet this time, I’ll spare myself from typing all of that out, since the Club did the work for me:

Spine – I like how the Club truly made this a Greek book, prominently displaying its creation in Athens all over the place.

Slipcase – Mine’s a touch beat up, but it’s better than the other copy I saw, which was split. XD

Title Page – This is a fairly unique title page with the strong font that proclaims who was involved in its creation.  Very classy.

Signature Page – Here’s A. Tassos’ signature, and my limitation number is 220 out of 1500.

Pages 2  and 3 – This book maintains its Greek heritage by dividing the text from the original Greek on the left and the translated English on the right.  A. Tassos was an ideal fit for this book, as far as I’m concerned.

Page 30 – There’s quite a few chapter breaks in the book, where A. Tassos stuns with these Greek pottery-esque pieces.  Wow.

Page 93

Personal Notes – I got this one at Moe’s in Berkeley for a good price of $30 (marked down from $100!) complete and in great condition.  It’s the tallest book I have save the Steiner-Prag Tartuffe and The Oresteia, and it’s a massive tome as well.  I love the design – it’s so awesome.  I don’t regret picking this one up!

I need to sample the text still to see if I dig the translation, but I do love the art!

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