Limited Editions Club – The Essays of Montaigne (1946)

January 16, 2012 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – The Essays of Montaigne (1946)

The Essays of Michel de Montaigne (Volume 1 and Handbook [LEC], Volume 2 [HP], 1946)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Decorations by T.M. Cleland
Introduction by Andre Gide, translated by George B. Ives, with additional notes by Grace Norton
LEC #176, 17th Series, V. 2 in 1946

Click images for larger views.  The LEC edition will be on top/left, the Heritage bottom/right (unless otherwise stated)

Front Binding – Michel de Montaigne is one of the legends of the literary essay, helping pioneer the concept of Skepticism and pretty much creating the definition of the essay as a major form of writing.  He has inspired numerous authors over the centuries, and his ideas continue to influence us today.  He was a Frenchman of noble blood, and was viewed more or less as a statesman who liked to write more than a serious author in his own time – his style, which included autobiographical anecdotes along with more philosophical inquires, was not en vogue in the mid to late 1500’s when he lived, and his work has a fairly modern feel to it that makes him easier to understand than some of his contemporaries.

In 1946 the Limited Editions Club decided to publish the Essays in a lovely four volume set, three containing Montaigne’s work and a fourth with notes on the work from the translator, George B. Ives, and additional comments from Grace Norton.  T.M. Cleland served as both designer and illustrator for the work, and he attached his signature to the LEC edition.  For those wishing to know more about him, I have detailed out Cleland’s career with the Macy’s here.  When the Heritage Press did their edition, they condensed the books down to three, splitting Volume 2 into two parts and keeping the notes as a separate work.  Regarding the LEC, I checked out two, the first and the Handbook, for the purpose of this blog.  All four have the same binding style.  I picked up the Heritage Montaigne Volume 2 for documentation on the cheap.

A curious thing I noted about the George Macy editions of the work is that they didn’t commission a new translation or introduction.  Andre Gide offers his thoughts on Montaigne, but this first appeared in 1939 by Longmans Green and Co.  Ives’ translation is from Harvard University Press, printed in 1925.  While this isn’t completely unusual, it’s a little odd that they didn’t recruit somebody to do either of those tasks.  The LEC edition was printed by The Aldus Printers.

Spines (LEC)

Title Page – Furthering my belief that Cleland was a master at title pages.  Lovely stuff.  I am under the impression Grace Norton’s contributions are unique to this edition, but I have no proof of that.

Drastically different lighting I had on these, I must say.

Signature Page – This is number 1122, and Cleland provides his nom de plume.

Page 3 (LEC) The chapter heads have pretty decorations at the head of each, and I’ve provided two examples of this for each edition.  There are no further illustrations.

Page 29 (LEC)

Page 817 (HP)

Page 1453 (HP)

Personal Notes – Picked up for a song at a library book sale, although part of that reason is that it’s a poor library copy.  The book itself is in good condition, but it’s full of writing and stamps. :(  I’ll be selling it off soon.  The LEC version was checked out from my university.


Heritage Press – The Odyssey by Homer (1970, Connecticut)

January 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

The Odyssey by Homer (1970, Connecticut)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Classical Designs by John Flaxman
Translated by Alexander Pope
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC did their own Odyssey in 1930, designed by Jan van Krimpen, and later Sidney Shiff produced his LEC Odyssey in 1981 featuring woodcuts by Barry Moser.

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – This will be a relatively short post, since it’s A) a library copy and B) a Connecticut-era reprint, and it’s a companion to the Heritage Iliad.  It features the same design philosophy, the same translator (Alexander Pope) and the same artist (John Flaxman).  So I don’t think I can really comment much more than I did with the Iliad.  This is a nice shade of blue in contrast to the Iliad red.


Title Page – Flaxman’s work is still nice!

Page 6 – I’ll be more than happy to compare these to the New York printing when I can, but I can say that the quality isn’t shabby at all.

Page 14

Personal Notes – Checked out from the library…although I wouldn’t mind owning them.

If you have a Sandglass for the Heritage New York printing, please drop me a line here or through the comments at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  I could use extra insights into this book.  Thanks!

Heritage Press – Four Plays by Christopher Marlowe (1966)

January 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

Four Plays by Christopher Marlowe – Tamburlaine the Great (Parts I and II), Doctor Faustus and Edward the Second (1966)
Sandglass Number: VII-32
Artwork: Monogram Woodcuts by Fritz Kredel, Copperplate Engravings by Albert Decaris
Introduced by Havelock Ellis
Reprint of LEC #377, 34th Series, V. 3 in 1966

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Before beginning proper, let me say welcome to 2012!  While my sixteen LEC’s are all on the blog, there’s no shortage of Heritage books for me to document (and I do have plans to further build my LEC collection throughout the year), and this is a lovely place to start.

Christopher Marlowe was one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, and was arguably the more famous playwright in that era of dramatic intrigue in England.  Marlowe’s life was cut short due to a bar fight that ended with his death, so his talents never had a chance to fully blossom.  His legacy has had to settle for second best, along with Ben Jonson and Thomas Kyd, other dramatists of that age, while Shakespeare became the champion of England’s literary canon.  To further my point, Shakespeare saw several books from the George Macy Company, while Marlowe finally got four of his more prominent works compiled into a LEC edition in 1966.  This Heritage reprint is one of the finest editions done of a LEC reissue, and some even consider its binding superior to the LEC.  Definitely a highlight of the Helen Macy tenure.  The front and back boards are a lovely shade of green (mottled green leather, the Sandglass says), but that’s not the highlight.

Spine – Here, this is the eye-catcher.  The spine is beautiful, one of the greatest looking of all of the Heritage books, rivaling the fine editions of the LEC.  Adrian Wilson, the book’s designer, created the motif of these charming monograms and had frequent Macy contributor Fritz Kredel render them in woodcut.  These were stamped in pure gold leaf, and bound by the Russell-Rutter Company with William Fortney overseeing the process.


Title Page – Havelock Ellis, a noted psychologist who pioneered several key advances in the study of sexuality (including the concept of narcissism), had apparently been a fan of drama, and in the midst of all of his many works he found time to write about the playwright twice – as Editor of Christopher Marlowe… With a General Introduction on the English Drama During the Reigns of Elizabeth and James I by J.A. Symonds, in 1887, and From Marlowe to Shaw, published after his death in 1939.  I’m not sure where the LEC pulled this intro from, but I’d wager it’s from one of those works.

Albert Decaris served only this commission to the Limited Editions Club, but his acclaim in his native France has been extraordinary.  He was best known for his engravings, which is what he supplies here.  He did illustrations for over 200 books at the time of this release, including what must have been a lovely edition of Don Quixote – it’s a shame he never had his services called upon a second time.

In other publication details, it was printed by the New York Lithographing Company, on paper produced by the Mead Paper Mill.  The text is Bembo (main text) and Carolus (main titles).

Page 5 – An example of the text.

Page 12 – This is my favorite piece within the book.  The linework is absolutely incredible.  Again, a shame Decaris only did this one book.

Page 52

Page 58

Personal Notes – I have wanted this book for a long time, but I finally picked it up courtesy of my current bookselling appointment.  I got it for free for volunteering there before being officially hired.  Lovely book, glad to own it!


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