Limited Editions Club – Samuel Pepys’ Diary (1942)

Samuel Pepys’ Diary (1942, ten volume set, Volume I and X utilized for this post)
LEC #135/13th Series V. 6 in 1942
Artwork – Pen Drawings by William Sharp
Transcribed by Rev. Mynors Bright, edited and additions by Henry B. Wheatley
LEC #1240 of 1500

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding (Volume I) – Hello friends! It’s been a long while. Today’s LEC is the 10-volume issuing of Samuel Pepys’ Diary. This diary is among the most famous in all of literature, and George Macy took no chances with his reprinting of it. He went with the Henry A. Wheatley translation taken directly from the Pepys volumes in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College in England, which was transcribed by Rev. Mynors Bright. This is only one cover of ten. I didn’t check out each individual book, but I can say that each one features a different illustration if memory serves. Each volume represents a year out of the Diary. The production details are as follows, courtesy of the book’s announcement letter:

So, it was shipped in two sets, I see. The letter too was inside this library check-out, which I have scanned and supplied at the end of this post. This was the only printing of Pepys by the LEC, but it’s a nice one! This was re-released by the Heritage Press in a two-volume set in the same year.

William Sharp is making his debut on the blog today, so let’s give him a little bibliography, shall we? He worked on five different LEC’s and one Heritage exclusive for George Macy’s houses. The LEC’s are, in chronological order:

Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (1941)
This set of Pepys’ Diary (1942)
The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1955)
The Wall by John Hersey (1957)
Wilheim Meister’s Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1959)

An eclectic set of selections, eh? I have the Poe and Rousseau Heritages, so I’ll share those down the road. Also, he was a part of the Heritage Dickens series, rendering The Old Curiosity Shop. I’ve recently discovered that Sharp also did a Heritage exclusive Autoobiography of Benjamin Franklin as well.

Title Page – A rather fanciful one, isn’t it? I’ve pretty much explained all of the above info earlier, so I’ll save a second explanation.

Signature Page – This copy from my university library is #1240, signed by Sharp.

Page 23 – Most if not all of Sharp’s drawings are in-text ones, but he was a solid choice. I prefer his work in the Poe, however.

Page 43

Personal Notes – Borrowed from my university…so I don’t really much else to add! I wouldn’t mind owning it, though.

LEC Monthly Letter:

Upadted 7/22/2013 by JF

4 thoughts on “Limited Editions Club – Samuel Pepys’ Diary (1942)”

  1. I have never seen the Pepy’s set in person, but I would love to do so. I have the Poe Ttales of Mystery and Imagination in the LEC edition and the illustrations by Sharp are the best I’ve ever seen of this Poe. I had the HP, but sold it. This is one case where the LEC greatly surpases the HP. It is a hard one to find though in any kind of shape. I bought mine from the Library of Red Skeleton. the book was pretty well worn out but the insides were Fine so I rebound it in black Nigerian with the boards covered in a hand-marbled paper.

    The Monthly letter says that this is the first time within Macy’s knowledge that aquatints (from an etched copper plate) have been printed directly from the plates. Each illustration has a plate mark and were printed separately from the text.

    1. Hi Don,

      That last bit is intriguing. I haven’t had the chance to read the letter before I threw this up, so I’ll have to peruse it to see what other info is in there.

  2. Copper etchings are notorious for wearing out with repeated pulls. In many cases the original soft copper plates are replaced with acid-etched zinc plates. This was one of the factors that lead Macy to originally limit the number of subscribers to 1500.

    This set is a lovely one, even more so in the LEC version, but one has to be aware that though this was the most complete Pepys printed up to this time, Wheatley, Puritan that he was, did not restore all of Bright’s cuts from the original manuscript. As he puts it in his introduction, he put back in all that “was really important” and asks you to take his word for it. “Trust me.” It remained for the 11-volume Folio Society edition, based on the edited by Robert Latham and William Matthews and published by Bell & Hyman, London, for a really complete Pepys to be offered to the general public.

Comments are closed.