Of Interest – The Illustrators of the LEC Shakespeare

April 29, 2012 Comments Off on Of Interest – The Illustrators of the LEC Shakespeare

While I’ve yet to cover most of the exquisite LEC Shakespeares, I’ve had a devil of a time trying to find a complete list of the illustrators for the 39 volume set. Well, I’m happy to present to you that very coveted list, in a typed form, so that it’ll be available to LEC collectors looking for books from their favorite illustrators. All of the books were designed by Bruce Rogers.

All’s Well that Ends Well – Drawings by Richard Floethe, printed in color by A. Colish

Antony and Cleopatra – Wood engravings by Enric-Cristobal Ricart, pulled by R.& R. Clark and hand-colored by Jean Saude

As You Like It – Watercolors by Sylvain Sauvage, hand-colored by Mourlot Freres

The Comedy of Errors – Wood engravings by John Austen, pulled and printed in 5 colors by R.& R. Clark

Coriolanus – Tempura paintings by C. Pal Molnar, lithographed in 15 colors by Mourlot Freres

Cymbeline – Lithographs by Yngve Berg, pulled by the Curwen Press

Hamlet – Dry-brush drawings by Edy Legrand, printed in collotype/black/gray by Georges Duval

Henry the Fourth Part I – Color lithographs by Barnett Freedman, pulled by the Curwen Press

Henry the Fourth Part II – Watercolors by Edward Bawden, hand-colored by Jean Saude and printed in collotype by Georges Duval

Henry the Fifth – Pencil drawings by Vera Willoughby, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

Henry the Sixth Part I – Lithographs by Graham Sutherland, pulled by the Curwen Press

Henry the Sixth Part II – Lithographs by Carlotta Petrina, pulled by George C. Miller

Henry the Sixth Part III – Colored line drawings by Jean Charlot, printed in 3 colors by A. Colish

Henry the Eighth – Wood engravings by Eric Gill, pulled by A. Colish

Julius Caesar – Wood engravings by Frans Masereel, pulled by A. Colish

King John – Line drawings in three colors plus gold by Valenti Angelo, printed by A. Colish

King Lear – Brush drawings by Boardman Robinson, printed in collotype in black/2 grays by Georges Duval

Love’s Labour Lost – Crayon and wash drawings by Mariette Lydis, printed in collotype in black/gray by Georges Duval

Macbeth – Color drawings by Gordon Craig, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

Measure for Measure – Color lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag, pulled by Mourlot Freres

The Merchant of Venice – Watercolors by Rene ben Sussan, printed by both Mourlot Freres and Georges Duval, hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume

The Merry Wives of Windsor – Color drawings by Gordon Ross, printed in collotype in black and sanguine by Georges Duval, then hand-colored (does not state by whom…Ross, maybe?)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Watercolors by Arthur Rackham, lithographed in 4 colors by Mourlot Freres, hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume

Much Ado About Nothing – Watercolors by Fritz Kredel, printed in collotype by Georges Duval and hand-colored by Jean Saude

Othello – Wood engravings by Robert Gibbings, pulled by A. Colish

Pericles, Prince of Tyre – Wood engravings by Stanislas Ostoja-Chrostowski, pulled by A. Colish

Richard the Second – Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker, pulled by A. Colish

Richard the Third – Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg, pulled by George C. Miller

Romeo and Juliet – Color line drawings by Ervine Metzl, printed in 2 colors by A. Colish

The Taming of the Shrew – Line drawings by W.A. Dwiggins, printed in sanguine by A. Colish

The Tempest -Watercolors by Edward A. Wilson, printed by both Georges Duval (collotype) and Mourlot Freres (2 colors), hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume

Timon of Athens – Wood engravings by George Buday, pulled by A. Colish

Titus Andronicus – Watercolors by Nikolai Fyodorovitch Lapshin, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

Troilus and Cressida – Wood engravings by Demetrius Galanis, pulled in black/terra cotta by Dehon et Cie

Twelfth Night, or What You Will – Watercolors by Francesco Carnevali, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

The Two Gentlemen of Verona – Watercolors by Pierre Brissaud, printed in collotype (key gray) by Georges Duval and hand-colored (not stated, Brissaud, perhaps?)

The Winter’s Tale – Drawings by Albert Rutherson, hand-colored by Jean Saude and printed in key-black by the Curwen Press

Note that this set is completely unsigned, so that bit of novelty is lost. However, a set of Shakespeare’s poetry followed the release of the plays. They were deliberately matched to the binding style of the rest, and this one is signed by Rogers. Hope this list aids you somehow or another!


Limited Editons Club: The Aeneid by Virgil (1944)

April 29, 2012 § 6 Comments

The Aeneid by Virgil (1944)
LEC #163/15th Series V. 11
Sandglass Number 5H

Artwork: Illustrated by Carlotta Petrina
Translated and introduced by John Dryden
#890 of 1100

Click images to see larger views. LEC on the top, Heritage on the bottom.

Front Binding – Thanks to my UC Library, I can now properly compare Virgil’s Aeneid. This replaces the original post I made in 2011, but it’ll retain all of that information (and more, I hope). There is a stark difference in design on these two. The LEC goes for a much more refined approach, with lovely cloth boards with decadent wheat-like patterns and a cross-stitch. The teal-colored leather spine seals the deal. The Heritage, however, manages to outdo this fancy binding. Embossed with one of Carlotta Petrina’s illustrations, I was amazed when I first gazed upon this book.  This was the origin of my passion for these books, you see. It is the very first Heritage Press book I ever owned.  I’ll save further thoughts from my ownership of this book for later; let’s focus on the book itself.  Both were designed by Robert L. Dothard of the Hildreth Press, who also happened to design The Innocent Voyage I posted earlier.  I’ll let Django6924 explain the rest:

The text is set in a linotype face–14 point Old Style, on a laid, toned paper that the Sandglass mentions was difficult to acquire during the war rationing situation. The cover was unusual in that instead of the usual “blind-stamoing,” which impresses a design into the cover, this cover features one of Ms. Petrina’s designs embossed as a sort of bas-relief. This is one of those occasions where the design of the Heritage Press edition is far superior (as a design) to the rather staid LEC version.

The Connecticut Heritage is much more subdued than the New York. If I can remember I’ll snap a shot of its boards for comparative purposes before I sell it off.

Since I didn’t do it last time, let’s briefly touch upon author and artist. Virgil (or Publius Vergilius Maro) was one of Rome’s greatest poets, composing three known major works in his lifetime: The Aeneid, The Georgics, and The Eclogues. All three saw LEC releases. Georgics was done in 1952, and features the work of engraver Bruno Bramante and  printer Giovanni Mardersteig. The last, Eclogues, was published in 1960 with painter Marcel Vertes rendering it.

Carlotta Petrina doesn’t seem to have a heap of accessible info online, but I’ll dictate her career for the George Macy Company as best I can. She began in 1932 with South Wind, and if my memory serves, she actually chatted with author Norman Douglas before getting to work. Those are rather nice illustrations in the LEC, but the one I’ve covered on the blog so far lack the original crispness and clarity. In 1936 she won accolades for her interpretation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Regained. These were not reprinted as a Heritage edition, instead using William Blake’s paintings. She joined 38 other artists to help create the LEC Shakespeare, her part being Henry the Sixth Part II. The Aeneid was the final commission for the LEC, and to my knowledge she did not do any exclusives for the Heritage Press.

Title Page – No real different here beyond the publisher info. It proudly proclaims John Dryden’s translation and Virgil’s name in red.  Otherwise, a fairly humdrum title page.  What I found interesting is that the copyright page says that the Heritage version explicitly required the use of this book from the Limited Editions Club, which considering their relatedness, strikes me as a little odd now.

Signature Page – What I find most curious about this book is the limitation. Normally 1500 LEC editions were released in Macy’s time owning the Club, yet here it says they made 1100 copies. Perhaps wartime forced the Club to dial back a bit on this edition? I’ll ask my LEC compatriots and see if they know. Anyway, this is #890 and is signed by Petrina in red.

Book I Art – Petrina’s art headlines each book of the epic poem.  I find it fairly captivating stuff. The two are nigh identical, despite the photos suggesting that the LEC is lighter. I think the difference of sunlight is what’s making that happen. The quality in both is quite high, so your choice boils down to binding style preference and if Petrina’s signature means something to you.

Book V Art

Book VIII Art

Personal Notes – My very first book from the Heritage Press came from my local library in Mariposa, probably in 2007 or so.  I think they asked $10, which for the incredible artistry I felt was more than deserving.  I didn’t know about Sandglasses or much anything else about the Press back then, but considering I’ve (still) not seen the NY Heritage elsewhere, I think I made a smart choice.  I’ve yet to read it, though. As I mentioned with The Ring and the Book, epic poems don’t tend to be up my alley (Beowulf seems to be the exception so far), but I’m sure I’ll give it a go one day. The LEC came from my UC Library, and although I do like the art a lot, I’m not too sure I want that edition more than several others.

Happen to have a LEC Newsletter? I could use its information to further flesh out this post! Leave me a note in the comments or at my thread at Librarything. Thanks!

Limited Editions Club – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1933, 1961 [Heritage])

April 22, 2012 § 7 Comments

Welcome to our first comparison post of two differing versions of a work. Here we will discuss the original LEC Brothers Karamazov done in 1933 to a later Heritage reprint of the 1949 LEC. Both have the same translation, but feature distinctly different design and artistic traits unique to their editions. For this post I will focus on the 1933 LEC first, and then move onto the Heritage. Let’s start, shall we?

Note – I have just added the Monthly Letter to the King-illustrated Karamazov, but I have not updated the text to reflect the knowledge within. That will come.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1933, 3 volumes)
LEC #50/5th Series V. 2 in 1933
Artwork – Portrait Illustrations by Alexander King
Translated by Constance Garnett, Introduced by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
LEC #919 of 1500

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding (1933 LEC) – Since all three are unique (and lovely!) in their bindings, I snapped each one individually. I like the green/orange/blue shades and the crazy rib-like boards. D.B. Updike of the Merrymount Press handled printing duties (and potentially design duties as well, but I’m not sure of that). That’s unfortunately all I can tell you about the book’s creation.

Luckily, I do have plenty to tell you about the author’s history with the LEC (since I forgot to do so in my prior Dostoevsky posts on Crime and Punishment and The House of the Dead!). Fyodor Dostoevsky is the giant of giants in Russian literature, and with very good reason. The George Macy Company thought of him highly, and lavishly produced several editions of his works over their tenure, with future owners Cardevon and Sid Shiff joining in the fun as well. This set was the beginning of the long-lasting relationship in 1933, with the Heritage Crime and Punishment following in 1938 with Fritz Eichenberg’s woodcuts. The LEC would reprint that in 1948 as a 2-volume set. A revisit to The Brothers Karamazov followed in 1949, again featuring Eichenberg’s art, this time in stone lithographs. It’s clear that the Club caught Dostoevsky/Eichenberg fever from there, because all but one of the remaining publications unite the two again and again: 1956’s The Idiot, 1959’s The Possessed, 1974’s A Raw Youth (under Cardevon), and Sid Shiff’s concluding production of The House of the Dead in 1982. The only other case Eichenberg was not involved was the short story combo The Gambler and Notes from Underground, released in 1967 and starring Alexande Alexeieff as its illustrator. No wonder Eichenberg seems to be known in our circles as “the Russian illustrator”; He also did art for the works of Tolstoy (Resurrection, War and Peace), Pushkin (Eugene Onegin) and Turgenev (Father and Sons).

But enough with Eichenberg for the time being. His time will come in the second half of this monster of a post. Let’s focus on Alexander King, who is making his debut on our blog with this post. King deserves notoriety as being the very first illustrator for the Club, giving the 1929 Travels of Lemuel Gulliver his artistic flair. He next gave Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones his talent on 1931, with this set following that in 1933. Alas, that would be the end of the Macy connection. King was far more than an illustrator, though; he became a media sensation on The Tonight Show in later years, as well as writing several books, both fiction and non. He was a bohemian who got deep into drug addiction, multiple marriages and had several health problems, but he managed to leave his mark in the entertainment world. It’s fitting that he helped launch the decadent press that we love so well in a way.


Title Page – Constance Garnett is often the go-to for Russian translation for the Club, and this is a shining example of that practice (if not the first instance of that practice!). Avrahm Yarmolinsky is the introductory presenter here, an act he would do again for Eugene Onegin. The later 1949 printing reuses both Garnett and Yarmolinsky’s respective talents, which makes it all the more curious why they reprinted it. Well, Eichenberg’s work is spectacular in that, which is good enough for me!

Signature Page – Copy #919, with King’s signature.

Page 1 – King’s style is more cartoonish than Eichenberg’s, but it works. His portraits elude an intriguing sense of characterization, that they do.

Page 82

Page 129 – I like the exaggerated eyes.

Personal Notes – Checked out from my UC library. Wouldn’t mind owning it!

Monthly Letter:

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1961)
Sandglass Number: III: 33R
Artwork: Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett, Introduced by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
Reprint of LEC #197, 19th Series, V. 1 in 1949

Front Binding – Another splendid binding. Apparently The Brothers Karamazov has that effect on book designers. Here we get a great illustration of Dostoevsky done by Eichenberg; note the crucified foot to the right of his head. Both sides feature this stunning rendition of the author. Thanks to a Sandglass, I can tell you some design info on this one. The text is set in Original Old Style font, composed by E.L. Hildreth & Company. Printing was handled by the Duenewald Printing Corporation of New York on paper supplied by Finch, Pruyn and Company. Binding was by Russell-Rutter (man, that shop could have stayed alive just because of Macy’s interactions with them).

So, now I can blab about Fritz Eichenberg all I want. I noticed that I have utterly failed to list out every book he had a hand in for George Macy and the subsequent owners of the LEC, and I’d like to rectify that now. It all began with the Heritage Press. The 1938 Crime and Punishment set Eichenberg off on a long and storied career few other illustrators can match. He next performed his craft in the massive LEC Shakespeare set, rendering the grotesque Richard the Third. Eugene Onegin was next in 1943. The LEC Crime and Punishment followed in 1948, although I don’t think he did anything new for that re-release. The Brothers Karamazov came out in 1949. Fathers and Sons was next in 1951, and Hawthorne’s King Midas and the Golden Touch, released as part of a greater set of Evergreen Tales, went out in 1952. Goethe’s The Story of Reynard the Fox was shipped in 1954. A third Dostoevsky novel, The Idiot, was released in 1956, with another, The Possessed, coming out in 1959. Tolstoy’s Resurrection was unveiled in 1963. A second Tolstoy collaboration came under Cardevon’s ownership, with 1972’s Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. Dostoevsky’s A Raw Youth continued the chain in 1974. While Eichenberg did not illustrate the book’s pages, he did contribute a print to Villon’s Lyrical Poems in 1979. 1981 saw Eichenberg tackle Grimmelshausen’s The Adventures of Simplicissimus for Sid Shiff. 1982 saw the final Dostoevsky work the Club printed, with Eichenberg naturally attached, in The House of the Dead. The last LEC Eichenberg made illustrations for was Georges’ The Diary of a Country Priest in 1986. Almost a fifty year run! And I haven’t even touched on his two other Heritage exclusives, War and Peace and Gulliver’s Travels. In total, Eichenberg provided his incredible artwork for 15 LEC’s and 3 Heritage Press books, plus a bonus LEC print for the Villon (those numbers include Crime and Punishment in both their tallies, mainly because I’m not sure if Eichenberg did any further work for the LEC edition). Impressive, isn’t it?



Title Page – A little more snazzy than the 1933 edition, if I may say so.

Page 8 – The Sandglass lavishes most of its attention onto Eichenberg, in particular his creation of the stone lithographs for this novel. Definitely check it out, as a summary does not do the praise justice. These definitely are among his most breathtaking illustrations.

Page 14 – If there was ever any doubt of Eichenberg’s talent, may this spectacular piece wash it away. Among my favorites of his.

Personal Notes – This came in the massive lot I recently obtained from the Oakhurst Library. This was one of the books I got for free. Yes, you read that right. And it’s one I’ve coveted for years, and now it is mine, complete and in marvelous condition. :)


Well, that was a lot of information! I look forward to the next time I get the chance to do a comparison like this. Either way you go for this book, I think you’ll be rewarded handsomely. :)

Limited Editions Club – Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas (1958)

April 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas (1958)
LEC #283/26th Series V. 4 in 1958
Artwork – Hand-colored illustrations by Edy Legrand
Introduced by Ben Ray Redman
LEC #144 of 1500

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Hello, everyone! Let’s begin today right with a LEC post. We all love those, right?

Twenty Years Later is the middle of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers trilogy, which is among the greatest works in French literature. Dumas received more than a few LEC editions, with The Three Musketeers seeing two releases, one in 1932 with Pierre Faulk’s illustrations as a 2 volume set, and a later 1953 edition with Edy Legrand’s art. The Count of Monte Cristo followed in 1941 in a massive four-volume set with Lynd Ward supplying his artistic touch. The lesser-known The Black Tulip came out in 1951 featuring the design of Jan van Krimpen and the art of Frans Lammers (both signed the books). Three more books featuring Legrand came next, all within the Three Musketeer canon: Twenty Years Later came out in 1958, The Man in the Iron Mask was sent out in 1965, and the last, Marguerite De Valois, was released in 1969. The last book of Dumas’ to see release was 1973’s The Queen’s Necklace, with Cyril Arnstram providing art for it. His son, Alexandre Dumas, fils had his major work Camille performed twice as well, making this father-son duo one of the few (if there are any others!) to have two LEC’s done for one of their respective works. French painter Marie Laurencin handled a 1937 edition, while Bernard Lamotte illustrated a later 1955 version.

I am pleased to share with you another whimsical collection of Edy Legrand’s artwork. I quite like his work, that I do, and it’s nice to have fully colored examples to showcase for you this time. I cover his career with George Macy in The Nibelungenlied post.

Here’s the announcement page with the publication details:

The boards are a lovely red with three fleursdelis stamped in gold on the front. I believe this is common to all of the Legrand Dumas, with varying colors for the boards of each book.

Spine – The book was still in its wrappings when I bought it, thus the radiant red spine. Definitely one of the overall nicest exteriors of any LEC I own.


Title Page – For some reason, the translator of this and the other works of Dumas done by Legrand is notably lacking. Dumas wrote in French, so there was some translation work done here! The Monthly Letter also curiously omits this detail. We do know Ben Ray Redman introduces the book, but it’s a little weird that the George Macy Company doesn’t cite their translation source.

Signature Page – This is #144 of 1500, signed by Legrand. Legrand didn’t always sign his works; Don Quixote, Travels in Arabia Deserta and The Three Musketeers were all issued unsigned.

Page 46 – Such intensity. I haven’t read this yet, but I’m intrigued! I did have a rather unfortunate mishap with this book, though regarding this page. Apparently some glue had gotten stuck on the page following this illustration, and I had to rip them apart, to the detriment of some of the text. The pages weren’t torn in the process, but it was a little disheartening to somewhat assault such a lovely book.

Page 130

Personal Notes – I bought this with store credit at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, CA, for $50 (i.e. two books I sold in). Nice shop, nice owners, worth a look if you’re in the area. It’s where I also got my Zadig, and hey, it’s got the same number. :) I’m also happy to have a signed Legrand!

LEC Newsletter

Updated 7/6/2012 – JF

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