May 22, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Sailor’s Reader, edited by George Macy (1943)
The Sailor’s Reader: A Volume Containing Four Hundred Thousand Words of Select Literary Entertainment for the American Sailor on the Water or in the Air, edited by George Macy (1943)
No Sandglass Issued – Sold in Stores with a Dustjacket
Heritage Press Exclusive, released side-by-side with The Soldier’s Reader
Click images to enlarge views.
During World War II the Heritage Press released two books designed for the many soldiers and sailors serving the United States, The Soldier’s Reader and Sailor’s Reader. Each had a lot of the same material in its 400,000 words, but both had their own specific bits that were tailored for that particular branch of the military. This is not your conventional post, as there’s no pictures and the binding itself isn’t spectacular.
Binding – As you can see, nothing too fancy.
Spine – I did a little Photoshop magic to eradicate some library markings above the square border.
A dustjacket used to cover this book, but it has been lost to time.
Title Page – I wish that logo wasn’t stamped on – I’d use it as the icon for the blog. Ah well.
So, like I said, nothing too extraordinary. However, I thought that George Macy’s musings that litter the text would be well worth some time to photograph and document, and Macy did not slouch in these. Most of the sections feature a brief intro from Macy explaining it and its inclusion. Also, he would write a six page preface providing his reasoning for making the book. This will be the end of my text – we’ll let Mr. Macy take over from here. Enjoy!
Hit the jump for the intros… « Read the rest of this entry »
May 21, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Shaving of Shagpat by George Meredith (1955)
The Shaving of Shagpat by George Meredith (1955)
LEC # 267, 24th Series, V. 5
Artwork: Pen and brush drawings by Honore Guilbeau
Introduction by Sir Francis Meredith Meynell
#787 out of 1500
Click images to see a larger view.
Front Binding – George Meredith is perhaps better known for The Ordeal of Richard Feveral and The Egoist over this particular work, the satirical The Shaving of Shagpat, but the Limited Editions Club chose this as a counterpart to their earlier printing of The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by J.J. Morier. Both books feature a similar binding style, done by W.A. Dwiggins, so they go together quite nicely on a shelf. Here’s the announcement letter with all the details on its creation:
This would be the only work of Meredith’s that they would publish, but at least they did a splendid job of it!
Title Page – The artistic combination of Dwiggins’ decorations and Honore Guilbeau’s drawings is an ideal one. I was quite taken with how well the two blended their talents, and am looking forward to seeing the earlier Hajji Baba, which Guilbeau also did illustrations for. She also did Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which I will be putting up in a couple weeks. Guilbeau started off her LEC career by winning the Club’s third competition to have their art printed with a new work, for Hajji Baba in 1945. Dwiggins really enjoyed her work, saying “when this book appears, it will establish that gal as a woman who really knows how to make pictures! I can’t remember when I have seen drawings for a book that pleased me so much.” High praise, there, and I think she deserves it. Guilbeau has a nice chat about how she got into art in the Newsletter below – it’s pretty interesting.
Sir Francis Meredith Meynell, godson to George Meredith and founder of the Nonesuch Press, another mammoth in the collectible book industry, provides a preface to the work. And it’s a rather pretty title page Dwiggins created, isn’t it? The Newsletter calls it “one of the best he has ever drawn”, and I wouldn’t argue.
So…why was this book printed, you ask. Well, let me give a brief summary. Professor Gilbert Highet, who taught at Columbia University, asked George Macy and the LEC staff if they had ever read Meredith’s Shaving of Shagpat, and why didn’t they produce a lovely volume celebrating it? The reply was, well, no, we hadn’t read it, and thus why we haven’t made a book of it, but the curiosity got the better of them and Macy did read it. He enjoyed it immensely, chuckling all the while. Macy decided that yes, this was indeed a book we needed to print up, and reunited Dwiggins with Guilbeau, asked Meynell to reminiscence about the tale and his godfather, and it was off to the races. Shagpat so happens to be Meredith’s first published novel, written at the tender age of twenty-five. George Eliot, famous for her novels The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner and Middlemarch, adored the work so much she reviewed it three different times for three different publications. The Newsletter has a little too much fun with its “George All the Way” retorts, FYI.
Signature Page – Copy #787, signed by Honore Guilbeau.
Page 1 – Dwiggins also provided nice initial letters to the beginning of each chapter, which is very nicely done.
Page 27 – Now for Guilbeau’s pen-and-brush drawings, which are simple and elegant. They are a beautiful fit for this work set in the Arabian mythos.
Page 37 – Notice the diversity of color on these pages. Lovely stuff, and had to run through the printer four times to get each color in.
Page 53 – Love the eyes on the woman in this one.
Personal Notes – I must admit, this book was an absolute gamble on my part. Having not seen Guilbeau’s artwork before, I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not. I ordered it online through my current bookselling employment for $40 (which I saved about $15 to $20 on due to store credit), and I was very relieved to see it arrive in very good condition and featuring such artistic wonders inside. No complaints.
May 12, 2011 § 10 Comments
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1946)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Arthur Szyk
Translated by Edward Fitzgerald
Heritage Press Exclusive, originally printed in 1940
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – In 1940 the Heritage Press put out a lovely exclusive – The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, utilizing the talents of Arthur Szyk to illustrate the volume. This edition had Szyk’s work mounted directly to the pages, which sounds lovely. This is the later 1946 edition, which merely reprints the art onto the page. Still, this is a lovely book. The book was designed by Ernest Inghan at Fanfare Press in London, England, and looks very classy with Szyk’s linework printed in blue on the off-white boards. An eye-catcher, this one.
Title Page –Szyk drew his work in color and gold, which Sun Engraving of London engraved. Apparently they did the same in the 1940 original. The text is Monotype Sachsenwald with Albertus Capitals, set by Mr. Ingham. Szyk is stunning as par the course – he did The Canterbury Tales (1946), The Book of Job, The Book of Ruth, The Story of Joseph and his Brothers (in the 1948 Evergreen Tales), The and The Arabian Nights Entertainments for the LEC, along with this and Ink and Blood (a very rare collection of his own work) for the Heritage Press. The translation is the wildly popular Edward Fitzgerald one that seemingly was everywhere in this era – I’ve seen a Random House edition that was rather nice using the same Fitzgerald translation, for example.
Page 2 – Stunning stuff.
Personal Notes – One of my more recent acquisitions, received on my last day of volunteering at my current employment. It did come with a gold slipcase, but it was very ratty and split nearly in two – I didn’t really think it was necessary to keep it in such poor condition. Glad to have a Szyk book at last!
I’m lacking some crucial stuff on this one – a Sandglass and any info within (and its number), comparisons to the 1940 printing, and other insights would be ideal. Please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! Thanks!
May 5, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Innocent Voyage by Richard Hughes (1944)
The Innocent Voyage by Richard Hughes (1944)
LEC # 175, 16th Series, V. 1
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Color Lithographs by Lynd Ward
Introduction by Louis Untermeyer
#542 out of 1500
Note – I wrote about my old Heritage Press edition a while back, which this post will replace. This one will now be the third comparison between the LEC original and Heritage reprint, and I hope you will enjoy seeing the differences! The LEC images will be up top.
Click images to see larger versions.
Front Binding – The premise is the same – a nice frontispiece of a little girl drawn by Lynd Ward, surrounded by a repeating and expanding box border. It’s the final execution that differs between the two editions. Here’s the LEC Announcement Letter to clarify some of the book design:
The front and back are identical on both books, and both were designed by Robert L. Dothard, owner of the E.L. Hildreth publishing house in Brattleboro, VT (thanks to Django6924 for this info prior to my acquiring my LEC). My Heritage copy, bound much more simply with a printing of this image stamped onto a creme cloth, had an unfortunate water spot on the back. Let’s pause and focus on the book at hand for a bit. The Innocent Voyage, better known these days as A High Wind in Jamaica, is the best known work of Richard Hughes, a British novelist. It is about a pirate crew who kidnaps a family of children who were trying to find a new home (theirs was destroyed by a hurricane) in the Caribbean, and of the time the kids are held hostage. The two sides rub off on each other over the duration, and eventually it is the pirates who are the victims. The girl on the cover is more than likely Emily Bas-Thornron, a major player in the tale who by its end manages to (SPOILER)
get the pirates hung for her own crime of murder (SPOILER END), making her a rather notable callous child in literature.
Spine – The Heritage is similar, minus the leather and gold leaf, natch.
Solander Case – Inside the slipcase is this very attractive solander case that covers the book, featuring Lynd Ward’s gorgeous lithograph of “A High Wind in Jamaica”. This image would be used as the endpapers in the Heritage edition.
Django2694 has more to comment on about the case and the Club’s choice of words on it:
Though the Monthly Letter describes the folding wrapper with the stunning “High Wind” lithograph as a solander, it is more properly a “chemise in a slipcase” rather than a solander. A solander is a box whereas a chemise is open and simply wraps around the book in its slipcase. (This is the reason that there is no title on the slipcase itself as the chemise faces out.) A chemise-wrapped book inside a slipcase was used several times by the LEC–for Vathek, School for Scandal, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to name a few. Solander boxes were used less frequently–Wilkie’s One World, Dead Souls, The Koran, and The Panchatantra are the only ones I have, though there are probably more. Here is Wikipedia’s excellent definition of a proper “solander”:
“Both lid and bottom sections of the box have three fixed side sections or “lips”; the lid is slightly larger so that the side pieces “nest” when the case is closed. The fourth “spine” side has flexible joints where it joins the main top and bottom pieces and so goes flat onto the surface where the box is opened. The front-edge of the case often contains a clasp for closure. The exterior is covered with heavy paper, fabric or leather, and its interior may be lined with padded paper or felt, especially if made for a book. All materials should be acid-free for conservation. The depth of the box is normally about five inches, if it is not made for a specific object, and various standard sizes are made, with traditional names including “royal”, “imperial”, “elephant” and others. Ones for very old books will typically be custom made to an exact size. The boxes are stored flat, and are strong enough to be kept in small stacks if required.”
LEC Slipcase – A white slipcase with no title on the back for this one – a little unusual for a LEC case, but with the solander case above as a bonus, I suppose the George Macy Company figured that was sufficient enough. I’d agree. :)
Title Page – The Heritage edition tries very hard to replicate Ward’s beautiful color lithographs (which I’ll let Django2694 explain for me in a moment, since he did it so well!), but there’s a slight edge to the LEC in terms of vibrancy and sharpness which makes these pop. It’s a testament to how much care and craft were put into these books. Here’s Django’s comments on the process:
The lithos in The Innocent Voyage are amazing in their Technicolor vibrancy and wide range of hues. They mark the first time Ward did other than monochrome lithos for Macy. Each of the five colors had to be done on a separate stone, and then overlaid in register–an incredibly complicated procedure. I quote from the Monthly Letter:
“…he had to draw each color on the flat, not knowing what the finished illustration would look like until he had drawn each of the five brilliant colors and could then possess himself of prints in which each color had been printed on top of the preceding color, or colors, in order to create the final compositions…twenty-five in all. Every one of these (in the LEC, and, I think, in the Heritage version as well), is an original lithograph, an auto-lithograph in color, printed directly from the flats upon which the artist made the drawings, without the interference of a photographic camera or paid operatives to work over the plates.”
The printing was done by George Miller, the acknowledged dean of American lithographers, who was honored by an exhibition of his life’s work in February, 1976, at the Smithsonian. Longtime Macy favorite Frank Fortney did the binding.
These became even more impressive knowing that Ward had no clue how the end result would turn out until he finished. Astounding. Here’s some more from Django about the book’s history and George Macy ranting a bit about the quality of the book (beginning with an excerpt from the LEC Monthly Letter – his own commentary follows):
“The page is certainly open and readable, but we do hope that you will find George Miller’s (who printed the lithographs) printing and Lynd Ward’s lithographs so unusually fine that you will not mind the fact that the Hildreth printing of the open and readable pages is not very good. We tell ourselves and can tell you, that many of our best pressmen are still at the front shooting at the Japs and Germans and, what is tragic for us, sometimes being shot at: so one must be patient.”
This is one of those times, which occur more than one might imagine, in the Monthly Letters when Macy–usually accused of only printing panegyrics about his books–is openly critical. He panned the LEC Green Mansions because he didn’t care for the airy type of the page (being a staunch and unwavering advocate of crisp, deeply stamped black type), and he had similar reservations about several other of the LEC output, one of which ended in the enmity between Macy and Grabhorn that lasted the rest of his life. It is also indicative, in the comment about shooting at Japs and Germans, of his fervent patriotism which manifested itself most strikingly in the legendary Heritage Press Ink and Blood.
Now, as I look through the book, I do not find the book unsatisfactory in any form, but Macy is allowed to find faults with his own books. It’s also right in the middle of World War II when this was published, so perhaps he was unhappy with losing a lot of his favorite presses to the war and felt that Dothard’s work was not up to the high standards he expected, but I think Macy’s damning of Hildreth’s work is a little harsh. Django2694 had some additional comments after his initial posting from before explaining Macy’s disdain:
Macy’s complaints about the presswork mostly relate to the kerning. In the days before computer-set type, the typesetters with the highest level of skill were masters at setting the ideal spacing between letters. This is purely a matter of the setter’s eye determining how much space there should be between each individual character to achieve a visually pleasing result. It’s a very subtle difference, and our discernment has been compromised by mass-market printing, but if you look at the lines of type in The Innocent Voyage, and compare them to a page from the Heritage Press edition of Emerson’s Essays, which was designed by John Henry Nash, you will see the difference in the grace of line.
You’ll see Emerson’s Essays soon enough, as it’s on my queue. ^_^
Signature Page – As you can see here, this is #542 out of 1500, and is signed in red by Lynd Ward. I’ve minimized my gushing for Ward’s excellence in this post thus far – let’s remedy that. :p Ward is definitely one of the George Macy Company’s finest choices for an illustrator – his dynamic style suits so many different books, which the Company picked up on. For example, out of what I own of Ward’s handiwork includes this, Beowulf, Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and The Master of Ballantre by Robert Louis Stevenson. He worked actively for the Clubs from his first contribution, The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade way back in 1932, to his last, 1975’s On Conciliation with America, and Other Papers on the American Revolution by Edmund Burke. In that span he illustrated thirteen LEC books, plus a Heritage exclusive Gargantua and Pantagruel. He was adapt at woodcutting and lithographic techniques. On top of that, he was revolutionizing the concept of a graphic novel, several of these being reprinted by the Library of America, which were put out a while back in a handsome edition. He’s also well regarded for his Frankenstein illustrations, which Dover reprints today (some samples can be seen here). In short, Ward was very much a legendary American artist in the twentieth century, and deserves more accolades than he seems to receive.
Page 19 – Again, Ward’s work is very well reproduced in the Heritage printing, but lacks the little something that the LEC original has to truly make it shine. The fine detail is gone, I suppose.
Personal Notes – The LEC I purchased at Moe’s in Berkeley for a cool $45, which I’m pleased with. I liked my old Heritage, but I fell in love with this edition, especially now that I have Ward’s signature. :) As for the Heritage, I don’t really know how I came into owning that book. It was likely a purchase from my local library or from volunteering at Page One, but I don’t have any recollection of where and when I got it. Due to its poor shape and lack of any redeeming collectible value (lacking a Sandglass or slipcase), I sold it off after acquiring the LEC.
As I am lacking a Sandglass, I need its Volume number printed on the front page of the Sandglass. Either comment here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! Thanks!
Special thanks to Django2694 from LibraryThing for additional insights.