Limited Editions Club – Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1931)

August 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1931)
LEC # 22, 24th Series, V. 5
Artwork: Illustrations by John Austen
Introduction by G.K. Chesterton
#91 out of 1500

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Bindings – This exclusive run of W.M. Thackeray’s most enduring classic Vanity Fair is pretty stunning to look at, with its gorgeous dust jackets (yes, you did read that right – I’ll explain why in a moment) and John Austen’s graceful illustration in the bottom right corner.  Both volumes feature this.  You can see the boards underneath in the next picture – the spine is a vibrant fuchsia color.  Alas, I didn’t snag a Monthly Letter, so I’m not sure who designed the two volumes.  I know that the University of Oxford printed it under the eyes of John Johnson, but beyond that I’m in the dark.  Any assistance would be great!

Dust Jacket/Boards Comparison – The boards feature a different teal/pink coloring for the repeating flower motif, which the endpapers inside also have.

Slipcase – The case is like the dust jacket with the yellow/pink coloring.  What you can’t see in this shot is the poor condition this slipcase is in – the bottom is completely separated, and the top is trying to do the same.  Apparently this was a common thing, as all the copies on ABEBooks I looked at save one also had a broken slipcase or none at all.  Shame.

Title Page – Why, hello, Becky.  John Austen certainly had his own style, a look that’s take-it-or-leave-it for some.  I think it depends on the book, and in this case, much like The Faerie Queene, Austen’s sketches of beautiful, glamorous people match up well with the story.  G.K. Chesterton of the Father Brown mystery series and a master at using paradox, serves up an Introduction.  As for the aforementioned dust jackets on the books, which is a bit of an oddity for LEC’s, from what I’ve learned the University of Oxford did them on all of their works printed for the LEC, thus why they’re there.

My particular copy, beyond the slipcase failings, seems to be a little poorly bound in Volume 2, or at the very least was well read, as the pages seem to be loose.


Signature Page – This is number 91 of 1500 – I think this is the earliest number I have!, and Austen’s curly signature in pencil lies below.

Page Preceding the Title Page – Austen has an unique style, that’s for sure.  As I said, not for everyone, but i do think it works quite well with this book.

Page 38

Personal Notes – There’s a funny story behind the acquiring of this book.  When I was on vacation this past June, I went to a bookshop in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The proprietor and I had a chat about this exact book – he was asking $85 or so, but the condition of it did not inspire that kind of money, nor did I even have that much to spend.  He offered a 10% discount, but I still wasn’t able to match that, so I walked out.  A little later, I returned to find my anthropology instructor chatting with the owner, and after letting him know where we’d be, stepped out.  In between the time I last saw him and when I ran into him next, he had purchased this book for $55 and was looking for me to see if I was still interested in it.  Somehow, $30 was shaved off the price – sometimes it does pay to have good contacts.  I do feel a bit for the bookshop, though – it lost a good deal of money, if only he matched my offer of $67!   My win, I suppose.

The Heritage Press later on in 1940 created their own edition of Vanity Fair, with Thackeray’s own illustrations.  I’ll put pics of that up when I find one.

I’m looking for comparisons to the Heritage variant or any info on the designer of this book, so if you have that info, please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

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