Heritage Press – Journal of a Plague Year by Daniel Defoe (1968)

July 25, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Journal of a Plague Year by Daniel Defoe (1968)

Journal of a Plague Year by Daniel Defoe (1968)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Domenico Gnoli
Introduced by James Sutherland
Reprint of LEC #401, 36th Series, V. 3 in 1968.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – Ah, it’s been a long time since we’ve been graced with a work from Daniel Defoe. Last time we saw him as the beautiful Moll Flanders LEC in January of 2011! This one is a little more grotesque in nature than the “biography” of a prostitute, but we’ll get to that in a second. I failed to detail Defoe’s publishing history with the George Macy Company before, and I’d like to remedy that now. Defoe’s most famous and enduring work was Robinson Crusoe, and Macy selected it to be one of the first twelve books in the First Series way back in 1930! Edward A. Wilson served as its illustrator. An incredibly long gap would follow, with the Reginald Marsh illustrated Moll Flanders seeing release as a Heritage exclusive in 1942. That would be dolled up into a LEC in 1954. Helen Macy would commission this particular book, which came out in 1968. Last would come Roxana, which was shipped out a bit late in Cardevon’s ownership of the Club in 1976. Bernd Kroeber was tapped as its artist.

Signor Domenico Gnoli would be summoned to serve as this book’s principle visualist, and did he rise to the challenge. Gnoli’s style matches the artistic style used in the work’s setting, and his morbid touch would make the plague described by Defoe spring back to life in all its disgusting glory. There’s a lot of disturbing imagery in this book, and while I’ve selected some pieces that aren’t too ghastly, this book’s art is probably not for the squeamish. This would be the sole contribution he would give to the LEC, but it’s definitely one of the more striking I can think of.

I have no Sandglass for this book, so I can’t detail its particulars. I can, however, give some minor background notes from the LEC newsletter. Richard Ellis designed the original edition. Gnoli produced eight paintings and thirty-three drawings to accompany Defoe’s narrative. Granjon is the font of choice, with Cloister Black and Janson providing additional texts throughout the work. That’s about all I can tell you for now, but I will update this post when I get a hold of a Sandglass.

This is one of my favorite Heritage bindings. I bought it because it was incredibly unique. It looks and  feels like snakeskin! Really memorable stuff. The Connecticut reprint is less impressive, as it uses a blue cloth with a tan colored coffin dead center, with 1665 printed on the coffin. To the point, I guess, but not as snazzy.


Title Page – I like this title page, and it’s one of the better ones that are lacking an illustration. It has a nice ye olde feel to it. James Sutherland provides an Introduction.

Page 13 – An example of Gnoli’s linework.

Page 34 – The art is this book is not exactly uplifting. It is most certainly excellent, though.

Page 62 – Man, this one gives me goosebumps. The emotion is intense.

Personal Notes – I snagged this at my favorite book shop in Monterey a couple years back, and I’m a big fan of its binding and artwork. I suppose I should see if I would like its textual contents!



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