Heritage Press: The Education of Henry Adams (1942)

March 29, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Education of Henry Adams (1942)

The Education of Henry Adams (1942)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Gravures by Samuel Chamberlain
Introduction by Henry Seidel Canby
Reprint of LEC #133, 13th Series, V. 4 in 1942.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – A wonderful marbled set of boards for you here, with tan cloth for the spine.  Alas, I don’t have the Sandglass for this book, so I’ll be hoping to net some info from somebody to inform you about the book’s creation.

Henry Adams is best known for this autobiographical work, with Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres not too far behind.  He was well regarded in his day and age for his knowledge of history, even teaching at Harvard for a while.  He also was a journalist, intellectual and was tied to the Adams family of presidents.  He would see the two works I discuss above see LEC and Heritage editions.

Samuel Chamberlain only worked for the George Macy Company on the two Adams works.  Here he provides gravures, and for Mont-Saint-Michel he supplied a photographic touch.  I assume that this here is an obituary on him; it certainly sounds appropriate.


Title Page – Henry Seidel Canby gives an introduction.  Chamberlain is doing a fine job in my book.  His landscapes are very nice.

Page 30

Page 190

Personal Notes – I bought this from my local library for $8 or so a couple years back.  Wish it had the Sandglass, but the book was in very good condition save some water spots on the spine.

If you have a Sandglass for the Heritage New York printing, or the LEC edition (for comparison), 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’s creation.  Thanks!


Heritage Press: The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (unstated, 1949)

March 28, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (unstated, 1949)

The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (unstated, 1949)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduction by Thomas Craven, translation/editing by John Addington Symonds
Reprint of LEC #86, 8th Series, V. 4 in 1937.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Okay, I have had this post sitting in idle for months, and I’d like to get it out into the open!  Cellini’s memoirs were originally done for the Limited Editions Club in 1939, printed in Verona at the Officina Bodoni. Django6924 was kind enough to fill in some of the details on the book’s Heritage publication:

…the Life of Benvenuto Cellini was first issued in July, 1949. From my research, this is apparently the only time it was issued, although I remember having this book in the late 1960s when I was a member of the Heritage Club, but checking Bussacco’s Checklist, there is no record of it having been issued after Series N (June, 1949–May, 1950). Unhappily, I sold that edition in the 1970s so I don’t have the Sandglass, but I do have the LEC edition and Monthly Letter and can add a few interesting facts.

Cellini’s autobiography was among the most requested books in the polls conducted of the LEC subscribers in the early years of the Club. Symond’s translation was very popular, but I imagine what particularly stimulated interest was the very successful 1934 motion picture, “The Affairs of Cellini,” starring Frederic March (an early and lifelong LEC subscriber, incidentally, and friend of Macy’s), which was not really based on the Life but on the play “The Firebrand,” by Edwin Mayer (who later adapted it as a musical with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin). When it was decided to issue the autobiography, a contest was held by the LEC for book illustrators (the Life was one of 30 titles submitted to over 400 illustrators), and the title most chosen for illustration by these worthies was Cellini’s book. Cyril Bouda, C. Pal Molnar, and Valenti Angelo were among the artists who sent in sample art for Cellini, but the judges felt Kredel’s samples captured best Cellini’s nervous, and yet meticulous style.

The Officina Bodoni was chosen “for sentimental and practical reasons,” but apparently Signor Mardersteig changed his mind about the design of the book, for though the original prospectus for the LEC series described a 2-volume Life, Mardersteig decided that one large book with double printed columns could hold all the text in a single volume. One senses in the description of this in the Monthly Letter that Macy himself was not a fan of double columns, but nevertheless he praises the way it is laid out. The typeface is Monotype Bembo, a face designed by the great Aldus Manutius, a near contemporary of Cellini, and printed on a 100% linen rag paper made by Cartiere di Maslianica in Milano. The binding was especially woven for the book using a pattern made up of the Florentine lily, and the rampant lion from Cellini’s coat-of-arms. The binding is identical to the Heritage binding, so either the Officina had a lot left over, or it was recreated for the Heritage edition after the war (the war I suspect is the reason the book itself was issued as a Heritage book so long after the LEC version).

This was Fritz Kredel’s third commission for the Limited Editions Club.  I see that I have neglected putting up his full commission list in the past, but I’ll rectify that on an older post.  For now, you can see his other work I’ve spotlighted here.

Benvenuto Cellini was himself a busy fellow, leading the way as one of the more important artists in the Mannerism school, and was busy in other fields like music, goldsmithing, and writing (this particular book in fact!).  This is his sole publication in the LEC/HP bibliography.

Title Page – John Addington Symonds translated Cellini’s words into English, and also served as an editor for this edition.  Thomas Craven introduces the book.  Kredel’s work is not full page size, but the detail is pretty incredible regardless!

Page 3

Page 7

Personal Notes – Borrowed from the library…that’s about all I can add!  However, Django6924 has this fascinating tidbit to say:

An interesting followup to the LEC edition was a notice in the Monthly Letter for The Ballad of Reading Gaol–the following month. The Directors of the LEC were compiling a list of the top 50 bookbinders in the world, and were going to send those 50 an offer to bind one of the 50 copies of the unbound sheets for The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (the LEC apparently always made extra sets of pages for each edition). Those that accepted would be paid and all the bound books were to be sent around the world as an exhibition of the state of the bookbinder’s art in the late 1930s. Whatever came of this fascinating plan is a mystery–at least to me–and one would love to have known who was on the list, who accepted if the plan was carried through, and what happened to those books?

What did happen to that idea, I wonder?  Big thanks to Django6924 for the additional comments!


Heritage Illustrated Bookshelf – The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith (1939)

March 28, 2012 § 2 Comments

The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith (1939, Illustrated Bookshelf Edition)
No Sandglass, includes a “Monthly Magazine of the Junior Heritage Club”
Artwork: Illustrations by John Austen
No Introduction beyond a brief note on the author
Heritage Press Exclusive, printed as a standard Heritage title as well.

Click to see larger images.

Front Binding – Ah, our second Illustrated Bookshelf piece.  The first was Twain’s Tom Sawyer, and finally I can share the first “complete” one I own (in fact, at present it is the only one!), Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield.  Designed by John Fass, this book never saw a LEC edition, so Macy purists will have to settle for a Heritage edition.  Some quick production details: W.A. Dwiggins’ Caledonia font is what renders the text, done at a 12-point size.  Unfortunately, Macy fails to mention the publishing house who printed the work and the bindery who bound it (just my luck today it would seem, as Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard also left out that crucial information!).

John Austen was a very productive member of Macy’s artist pantheon, and there’s a nice essay on Austen by Austen in the Magazine you may want to peruse.  He calls joining the Limited Editions Club “the happiest period of my life”, and you can see the results in every book he had a hand in, including this one.  I’ve failed in my duties to elaborate on his career with my earlier posts spotlighting his work, Vanity Fair and The Faerie Queene, so I’ll do it now and save myself some grief.  Austen began his work for the LEC with Vanity Fair in 1930, and following that he rendered for the LEC The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens in 1933, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollett in 1935, The Frogs by Aristophanes in 1937, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane by Alain Rene Le Sage in 1938, The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett in 1941, and The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser in 1953, which was published after his death and also featured the woodcuts of Agnes Miller Parker.  Several of these books were bound at Oxford University Press in similar slipcases, with dustjackets, in two volumes, and all had common design philosophies.  As far as I know, all of the above save The Frogs were published in this way.  Austen was also a player in the LEC Shakespeare, contributing his touch to The Comedy of Errors.  He also did several exclusive Heritage books, including this particular work, Dickens’ David Copperfield, and R.K. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.  He was a busy man, no question.

As for Oliver Goldsmith, he is known for producing an absolute classic in drama (She Stoops to Conquer), novel (The Vicar of Wakefield), and poetry (“The Deserted Village”).  He was an Irishman, and was known to be a sweet yet envious man.  This was his first work printed by the Company, with She Stoops to Conquer to follow in 1964.  I have the Heritage She Stoops… for you to look forward to. :)

Slipcase – A little unusual for a Heritage slipcase to feature artwork and author/artist information, but apparently this was common for the Illustrated Bookshelf line.

Title Page – The paper used in this edition is interesting.  It has tiny speckles throughout that give it a sort of “recycled” feel, although I doubt much of that was going on in 1939!  Austen’s work is beautiful, as usual.  He has pen drawings at the beginning of each chapter along with these “portrait” pieces scattered throughout the text.

Page 1 – Example of the pen drawings.

Page 4

Personal Notes – I picked this up from my bookselling gig at a used book shop in my college town in Merced.  I think I paid $10 for it.  It has someone’s name written in pen in it, and it’s somewhat battered, but it was a complete book despite its flaws, and the Monthly Magazine seemed fascinating.  I’ve photographed it in its entirety below for you.

Monthly Magazine:

Heritage Press: Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray (1951)

March 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray (1951)
Sandglass Number VII:16
Artwork: Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker
Introduced by Hugh Walpole
Reprint of LEC #106/9th Series V. 12 in 1938

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – After a bit of a hiatus, your curator is back with some more posts.  Today’s is a real gem, a reprint of the 1938 LEC Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Sir Thomas Gray.  This would be the sole work represented of the poet by the George Macy Company or its successors, but it did launch the relationship between Macy and the incomparable Agnes Miller Parker, who does some of her finest work in this book.  I am a huge fan of Parker’s.  I bought the LEC Far from the Madding Crowdmainly because it included a print of hers.  For the design particulars, the Sandglass is surprisingly silent about that.  I don’t know who designed it, nor who bound it, nor who printed it.  So, I’ll just pass along what I can.  The binding here is taken from one of Miss Parker’s wood engravings, embossed and stamped in silver over blue buckram imported from England.  The font is Goudy Hand-tooled…and that’s about all I can say.  A little peculiar, this one!

Gray composed the poem for a treasured aunt of his, revising a prior work that he was unsatisfied with and finishing the memorial in 1749.  He spent much of that revision at his aunt’s grave at Stoke Poges, and Miss Parker spent her time sketching her wood engravings at that very same graveyard.  So this is a book that was completely inspired by Stoke Poges, you could say!  Having read this work, it’s a lovely poem accompanied by lovely art, bound lovingly.

If you’d like to know more about Miss Parker’s career with the Macy’s, I’ve touched upon that with the post on Far from the Madding Crowd.


Title Page – Hugh Walpole provides an introduction; his great-great-great-great uncle Horace Walpole (The Castle of Otranto) was a friend of Gray’s back in the 18th century.  It has a distinctive look with the blue crisscrossed lines, which it maintains throughout the text.

Stanza 1 – Parker has done some lovely work in here, and I’ll just let it speak for itself.  Amazing artist, that she was.

Stanza 2

Stanza 3

Personal Notes – I got this for $10 – 12 or so in Monterey at my favorite shop.  I haven’t seen the LEC, although I wouldn’t mind owning it, I must admit!  Definitely among my favorites in terms of design and artwork.


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