Limited Editions Club: The Three-Cornered Hat by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (1959)

October 2, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Three-Cornered Hat by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (1959)

The Three-Cornered Hat by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón(1959)
LEC # 298, 27th Series, V. 7
Artwork: Drawings by Roger Duvoisin
Translated by Martin Armstrong, Introduced by Gerald Brenan
#403 out of 1500

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – This is one of my favorite bindings of all my LEC editions. It’s colorful, a fantastic design and feels soft to the touch. This book never saw a Heritage reprint from what I can tell. The novel contained within, The Three-Cornered Hat, by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, is one of the more adult-oriented tales artist Roger Duvoisin was attached to for the George Macy Company, as its plot follows a lustful magistrate who attempts to woo over a miller’s loyal wife. It went on to become a popular ballet composed by Manuel de Falla, and would be filmed several times by Spanish filmmakers. Alarcón became quite famous for this, and continued to write other novellas, travel writings and essays. This would be his sole LEC contribution, however.

Curiously, the blatantly non-Spanish (Swiss) illustrator Duvoisin was recruited for this book, who is best known in the Macy sphere for his Heritage Mother Goose commission in 1936, his first and most famous. Following that he rendered two Robert Louis Stevenson works, A Child’s Garden of Verses in 1944 and Travels with a Donkey in 1957, and then did this, The Three-Cornered Hat, in 1959, as his last commission. He won the Caldecott Medal for his art for Alvin Tresselt’s White Snow, Bright Snow in 1948 and a honor Caldecott for Hide and Seek Fog in 1966, so children’s books seemed to be a good fit for him.

Design Notes – Since I originally wrote this post I have gotten a hold of the announcement letter. I also have two pages of the LEC letter, but it’s 2 and 3, and until I can find the other two I think I will refrain from sharing that for now.


The Plantin Press handled the design and printing duties, which means that the project was under the watchful eyes of Saul and Lillian Marks, who did a few LEC jobs for the George Macy Company beyond this book.


Slipcase – A very bold orange, that this is.

Title Page – Martin Armstrong brought Alarcón’s words into English, and Gerald Brenan gave the work a proper intro.

Signature Page – Duvoisin signed his final work for the LEC, and this is #403 of 1500 copies.

Page 5 – Duvoisin’s work comes in two forms: linework with no color and what appears to be watercolored drawings. Here’s an example of the lines…

Page 13 – And here’s an example of the colored. Duvoisin also did full page drawings, as you’ll see below.

Page 17 – I think his whimsical style works well with Alarcón’s tale.

Personal Notes – I was dumbstruck at the soft, beautiful binding and vibrant color of the slipcase (I happen to like orange), and I also enjoyed the interior quite a bit. I needed some Spanish flair to my collection, and Alarcón’s work fit the bill. I paid $40 for it in Monterey from the then-Bookhaven, now Old Capitol Books. Since the original post I’ve recently acquired a second copy from my local Goodwill for 10% of what I paid for it in 2011! The book was in slightly better condition; I’ll have to see what number it is and put it into this post as a side-by-side comparison between the two volumes in the near future.

Updated 10/11/2017 by JF


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