Limited Editions Club: Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman by Moliere (1963)

April 28, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman by Moliere (1963)

Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman by Moliere (1963)
LEC # 349/31st Series V.4
Sandglass Number XI:28
Artwork: Drawings by Serge Ivanoff
Translated by H. Baker and J. Miller, and introduced by Henri Peyre
#477 out of 1500

Click images for a larger view.

Welcome to the second in our series of Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press side-by-side comparisons!  The first, The Canterbury Tales, was fairly straightforward in its differences – a little less color in the text, a leather spine, and a more dynamic printing of Arthur Szyk’s miniatures.  This volume, a redoing of Tartuffe (here’s the first) with the bonus of a second Moliere play, The Would-Be Gentleman, is a little more striking in its changes between the LEC and the Heritage reprint.

The LEC pictures will be on top, while the Heritage will be below.

Front Binding – A major shift in design between the editions right off.  Let’s begin with the LEC Announcement Letter.

Let’s do a quick comparison to the earlier TartuffeThe illustrators are naturally different, but what about the translations?  Curtis Hidden Page was responsible for the first edition, taking his prior work from 1908 and revamping it a bit for the LEC edition.  This later edition utilizes the talents of H. Baker and J. Miller, who translated the plays into English way back in 1739.  So these are obviously older and may affect the readability to today’s readers, the LEC Newsletter quickly tries to deflate that issue by stating that the two were actors and great fans of the French playwright, and did much to raise Moliere’s credence to London playgoers in their time.  They also say that the translation is of “…good, fluent, accurate English”, so perhaps the time lapse will not be an problem.  I haven’t read the two to compare properly quite yet, but I’ll update this when I do.  As for the bindings, the LEC Letter gives some of the details, like the design being done by Jean Garcia, who also selected and designed the book, but not the responsible party of the actual binding – that would be Frank D. Fortney and the Russell-Rutter Company, whose name appears quite often in this period for the Club.  Fortney and his apparent relative William designed the Heritage edition’s binding on top of doing the work.

LEC Spine

Slipcase – The LEC has a nice maroon case, while the Heritage has a black one.  Nothing too fancy in either case.

Title Page – The LEC had red text proclaiming Moliere and their name, while the Heritage redesigned the Moliere into a somewhat fancier font to make up for the loss of color.  They year also drops off the Title Page.  Garcia went with English Monotype Garcia for the text and Bembo bold for the Speech tags, which were printed at The Thistle Press in New York.  The paper is of a white rag stock from the Curtis Paper Company of Newark, Delaware, and was, naturally, specially made for the LEC.  The LEC letter goes off on an ink tangent, which may be of note to those curious about that major component of the printing process.  The Heritage Sandglass does not – I’ll explain the further differences at the end of this post.  This was Garcia’s second LEC work – Alain-Fournier’s The Wanderer was the first, and was a lovely book in its own right.

The Heritage edition has different people behind its creation.  The Mead Paper Company supplied the paper, which is of the laid style.  It was printed by Michael Pagliaro of the Holyoke Lithograph Company in Holyoke, Mass.  The tones of the binding were meant to replicate Ivanoff’s recolored illustrations, which you’ll see below.

Signature Page – This is #477 of 1500, signed by Serge Ivanoff.

Page 6 – Here’s the BIG difference of the books – the LEC fully colors in Serge Ivanoff’s drawings, which was hand-colored in the atelier of Walter Fischer and printed by the Crafton Graphic Company.  The Heritage edition strips the colors down to two – a shade of blue and a shade of peach, discounting the black and white, of course.  Personally, the LEC wins out.  The illustrations are much more vivid in full color.

Page 21

Page 90

Personal Notes – I got the Heritage edition first, at Moe’s in Berkeley.  I got the LEC at Green Apple in San Fran.  I paid $12 I think for the Heritage, and $30 for the LEC, which I am quite pleased with.  It’s the second Heritage I’ve replaced with a LEC – The Innocent Voyage was the first.

Newsletter Comparisons – Since I have the Monthly LEC Letter and the Heritage Sandglass, I wanted to do a quick side-by-side examination to see what’s different between the two.  The Sandglass lacks a personal anecdote from Serge Ivanoff (Page 3 of the LEC Letter), where he comments on visiting the United States soon.  After the text information following the lengthy verbiage on Jean Garcia’s career (Page 3 of the LEC Letter, Page 4 of the Sandglass), the two explain the book’s creation progress in their own separate ways, since they were manufactured differently.  However, the Sandglass omits the discussion of ink the LEC Letter dotes on for over a page, but the Sandglass spends nearly half of its last page discussing the virtues of laid paper versus woven, so at least both got some sort of intrigue about the industry.  There’s also a nice note regarding Helen Macy, then the director of the George Macy Company, laying out the text for the Comapny’s Christmas Card in the LEC Letter on Page 4.  The last paragraph in both letters discuss the bindings (which is naturally not the same!), but both begin the conclusion in their own way.  The LEC Letter refers to “But books are not made of ink alone, nor of paper alone”, while the Sandglass reads “but books are not made of just text, ink, pictures and paper”.  While the Sandglass cuts off after the bindery details are given, the LEC Letter brings it all back to Moliere, which is nice.  You can check them both out below.

LEC Newsletter



Heritage Press – The Song of Roland (1938)

April 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Song of Roland (1938)
Sandglass Number VIII: 19
Artwork: Decorations by Valenti Angelo
Translated from the French into English by Charles Scott Moncrieff, and Introduced by Hamish Miles
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #102/9th Series, V. 7 in 1938

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – The Song of Roland is a classic retelling of the epic battle between France and Spain (or, to be more specific, Charlemagne’s forces against the Saracens), originally composed in French by an anonymous poet.  The George Macy Company was quite taken with the idea of attempting to recapture the era when this confrontation took place, and decided to have well-regarded illumination expert and illustrator (not to mention frequent LEC/Heritage Press artist) Valenti Angelo take the reins of trying to get the essence of an illuminated manuscript of the event done up in printed form.  Angelo, of course, was up to the task – having done incredible work on the Heritage Salome and The Song of Songs, as well as the LEC/HP Songs of the Portuguese, Angelo was quickly becoming a Club favorite and with good reason.  For this book, he would split the task with printer Edmund B. Thompson of Windham, Connecticut.  Angelo would do the art and hand-illuminate the decorations with gold, while Thompson would choose the type, set it and get it printed.  We’ll dig into that process in a moment – now let’s look at the binding.  The Sandglass indicates that Angelo was in charge of the binding, and I will report their coverage of the process:

Then Mr. Angelo proceeded to illuminate and color the binding.  The sheets are bound into heavy boards.  The boards are then covered with a back of bright yellow buckram imported from England, and stamped with a design in monk’s-blue leaf; and with sides of a brilliant blue kraft paper upon with a design by Mr. Angelo appears, in blue and red and green and gold.

My copy has seen its fair share of sunlight, which is the unfortunate gray stripe you can see on this shot.  The back lacks the decoration, but is the same otherwise.

Title Page – Before you get too excited, Angelo did not illuminate this edition by hand, per say – he did do such a feat with the LEC original, but here the gold was done through silk screen application.  The title font is gold, but it’s hard to tell here.  Three examples of Angelo’s decorations with the text follow.  Let’s focus on Thompson for a moment.  The poem’s lines are done in Caslon by hand, which is covered thoroughly by the Sandglass for those intrigued by the development of text over the years.  The binder is not specifically stated – I would assume Thompson did the work with Angelo’s artistic assistance, but I really have no clue.

Page 3 – Here’s a quick summary of Angelo’s decoration creation process.  Angelo began with the basic black outline of his art, which he then embellished with inks of alternative colors – blue, green, red.  He then hand-illuminated each illustration with gold.  Angelo deliberately wanted to use dynamic and striking colors to recreate the feeling of medieval manuscripts, so he chose vivid inks that would be intense on the page.  Very classy work.

Page 27

Page 84

Personal Notes – I got this for $1.00 from the anthropology club book sale at my old college, and it’s quite a looker, despite its faded boards.  I’d like to see the LEC one day.


Heritage Press: Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)

April 14, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)

Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)
Sandglass Number XII: 17
Artwork: Lithographic Drawings by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Introduced by John T. Winterich, with endnotes by Paul Elmer More
Heritage Press Exclusive

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – The Heritage Press took to their own devices from time to time, printing books that the Limited Editions Club did not.  In some cases, these were alternative versions to books the LEC had published, like in the case of Salome.  However, they also printed their own books that the LEC never did, and Lord Byron’s Don Juan is a prime example.  The book has a lovely yellow binding with a nice pattern designed and drawn by Hugo Steiner-Prag, the book’s artist.  The Russell-Rutter Company performed the binding.  Steiner-Prag was also responsible for the lovely LEC Tartuffe I covered a while back, plus being the editor and illustrator of The Tales of Hoffman, as well as doing the LEC Shakespeare Measure for Measure.  The Sandglass gushes about his works for the Club extensively, as well as covering his life fairly well, too.  These illustrations are the last of Steiner-Prag’s work for either press, as he died shortly after completing the work for this volume.  The Sandglass neglects to indicate the designer of this book – usually, that means that George Macy himself was responsible, but I’ll see if any of my fellow LEC collectors have any definitive info.  The back board lacks the black block with the decorated “B”.

Title Page – A rather attractive title page greets the reader upon flipping open the book.  Steiner-Prag’s lithographs were reproduced by George C. Miller, who the Sandglass piles on this praise: “a New York printer of lithographs who is really the printer of lithographs in this country since he has no competitor.”  Wow – compliments from Mr. Macy were quite handsome, indeed!  The book was printed by The Stratford Press in New York.  The verses are in Baskerville font, while the running-heads and canto numerals are Linoscript, and the canto headings are Sylvan.  As par the course, specially-made paper for this edition came from the Crocker-Burbank Mills in Massachusetts.  While the book’s title page fails to mention him, John T. Winterich offers a brief Introduction, and Paul Elmer More worked on some notes for the text that follow the poem.  Byron’s work here is an epic poem about the popular literary figure Don Juan (Bernard Shaw fans may recognize the name if they’ve dove into Man & Superman, as Juan makes an appearance in Act III, and has often overshadowed the rest of the work).  Byron may have wrote it into stanzas, but he intended it to be treated like a novel, if the Sandglass is to be believed.  They also refer to this Juan as being unlike the Spanish legend, but I haven’t read it, so I can’t really agree or disagree with their claim.  It is a social satire, and was hugely successful in his time.  More about Byron and his “Byronic” writing style can be read in the Sandglass below.

Page 24 – Steiner-Prag’s work is something that has grown on me as of late, making me appreciate his eye to detail and exquisite shading techniques the more I look at them.

Page 56 – Another nice piece from the book.  Really moody.

Personal Notes – You know, I’m not really sure where I got this one.  I apparently paid $4.00 for it!  It was either the Oakhurst or Mariposa Libraries, I’m sure.  It didn’t come with a slipcase, but it was in rather good shape with a Sandglass.  I like it quite a bit, but I’ve yet to find another around to consider getting a slipcase for it.  *shrugs*

Heritage Press: Oedipus the King by Sophocles (1956)

April 7, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Oedipus the King by Sophocles (1956)

Oedipus the King by Sophocles (1956)
Sandglass Number XVIII: 20
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Demetrios Galanis
Translated by Francis Storr, and Introduced by Thornton Wilder
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC # 256/24th Series V. 1 in 1955

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – I ADORE the cover of this book.  It’s so classy and bold – the black and silver and browns go so well together.  I knew I had to have this the moment I saw it.  Anyway, there’s an incredible story that goes along with the creation of this book, one that may be more appropriate to allow the Director of the Heritage Press, which could have been George (he passed away in 1956, while the LEC edition came out the year before) or Helen, explain it to you through the Sandglass below.  I’ll sum it up here: Oedipus the King was originally announced for the Limited Editions Club in April, 1940.  This was going to join their “Booklover’s Tour of the World” plan that they had going at the time, with the book to be printed and illustrated in Greece to truly showcase its cultural style.  The following month, Nazi Germany began their invasion of France, which led to Paris being taken in June.  In the chaos that ensued, the Club lost contact with their printer, Kiron Theodoropoulos and their illustrator, Demetrios Galanis.  The Club had seen Galanis’ work in print form before the war kicked off, so they knew the work had been completed, but alas, it would be quite some time before the LEC were able to recontact their Greek collaborators.  Luckily, both men were alive following the war’s aftermath, but the book was in dire straits.  Over the war’s duration, vandals broke into Theodoropoulos’ press, the Pyrsos Press, and had destroyed the pages of type prepared for the book.  The engravings were still intact, but their condition was no longer satisfactory.  The Club wanted to see for themselves, and the American Embassy in Athens had become involved, sending an interested party to the Press to retrieve and ship the engravings to the Club.  This occurred in 1953.  Once in their hands, the engravings were deemed printable.  The Club then decided that their lofty aborted plan of “The Booklover’s Tour of the World” was no longer limiting the book to be printed in Greece, so they turned to Jan van Krimpen in the Netherlands to design the book based on Galanis’ initial plans to have the Greek on one side and the English on the other.  I’ll dive into van Krimpen’s story in a bit – let’s focus on the binding now.  The boards are covered in black buckram, the text stamped in with silver leaf which were drawn by van Krimpen for this cover, and Galanis’ engraving was stamped in with white leaf and terra-cotta leaf.


Title Page – Galanis’ concept of having the Greek text on the left with the English on the right turned out to be a wise choice, especially with the expert craft of van Krimpen designing it.  Jan van Krimpen was the “designer”, as the Sandglass puts it, of the Dutch printer Johannes Enschede en Zonen, which was established in 1703.  van Krimpen joined in 1925, and had turned the company’s fortunes around during his tenure, developing several new fonts among other accomplishments.  At the time of this book’s creation, Enschede was one of the few presses still creating text types using steel punches that were hand-cut, a tradition going back to the eighteenth century.  van Krimpen designed two that he would later use for this book – the Greek Antigone, and the English Romulus.  The paper was specially made under his supervision, and the book was printed at Enschede as well.  It was bound by J. Brandt & Zoon in Amsterdam.  Galanis adored his engraving’s printings, according to the Sandglass.  The Club utilized the translation of Francis Storr, who according to the Sandglass, taught Professor Gilbert Murray “‘the granduer of the Oedipus'”. Thornton Wilder, one of the few authors that wrote an Introduction AND had separate works of theirs done by the Club (The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town), provided an Introduction to the Club way back in 1939, which was first printed in the LEC version.  The Greek text was edited by Richard Jebb.

Pages 104 – 105 – Galanis’ wood cuts are quite effective and add to the book’s historic feel, I think.  Most of his pieces are small, but he did do a two page spread for the endpapers with three other larger illustrations.


Personal Notes – Purchased complete at Moe’s in Berkeley, CA for $10, I adore this book and find its history fascinating.  It, according to the Sandglass, was the longest in “gestation” for the Club – conceived in 1939, announced in 1940, and then in limbo for 15 years to magically appear in 1955 for the LEC and 1956 for the Heritage Club thanks to World War II.  Definitely a milestone book for collectors intrigued by the behind-the-scenes moments of the George Macy Company!


LEC Comparison Shots (courtesy of pm11)

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