Heritage Press – Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1939*)

January 20, 2013 § 10 Comments

Walden or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau (1939, * = this edition was done after 1953)
Sandglass Number III:30
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Thomas A. Nason
Heritage Press Exclusive: The LEC would issue their own Walden with Edward Steichen’s Walden Pond photographs in 1936.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Book #2 for today is the Heritage Walden. Thoreau’s seminal nature writings continue to inspire and influence people today, even if you find his personal reasoning and methods of living with nature a bit dubious. The Limited Editions Club had Edward Steichen’s Walden Pond photographs provide its visuals, but the Heritage Press went for a more natural approach, asking wood engraver Thomas A. Nason to supply their edition with woodcuts. Nason’s work is quite apropos, and he would see two future LEC commissions come his way. He did the Poems of William Cullen Bryant in 1947, and his last was a doozy; The Complete Poems of Robert Frost, a 2 volume issuing in 1950 that Frost, Nason and designer Bruce Rogers all signed, which automatically skyrockets it into the more coveted and expensive LEC’s out there.

Thoreau’s Walden LEC release in 1936 would be the last under George Macy; in fact, Helen and Jonathan Macy barely got the next one, Cape Cod, out under their tenure in 1968. Raymond J. Holden would render that one artistically. Cardevon Press recruited Holden again in 1975 for their A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers LEC in 1975. That’s all for Thoreau!

Designing info for you: Carl Purington Rollins was the original designer back for the original issuing. Clarke and Way printed the work on Crocker-Burbank paper. Bookman is the font of choice. That’s all the Sandglass provides!

Slipcase

Title Page – I happen to like Nason’s work a lot. The full-page engravings are loaded with little details that fit the world of Walden like a glove. There are many more small cuts, which are also excellent. A good fit! There is no preface or introduction to Thoreau’s text; it just starts right up!

Examples of the In-text Illustrations by Nason (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I’ve owned two separate copies of this book. The first I don’t fully recall how it sneaked into my inventory. It was ratty and beat up! If my memory serves, I believe I got it from Windows on the World Books & Art (RIP), my second bookselling gig, for a really low price or free. The one this post features is my second, much nicer copy. I snagged that at a library book sale. Haven’t read it yet.

Sandglass (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Heritage Press – Droll Stories by Honore de Balzac (1939)

January 20, 2013 § 8 Comments

Droll Stories by Honore de Balzac (1939)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Boris Artzybasheff
Introduced and Translated by Jacques Le Clercq
Heritage Press Exclusive: The LEC would issue their own Droll Stories as a 3 volume set with W.A. Dwiggins serving as designer and illustrator in 1932.

Click images for larger views.

drollhp-binding

Front Binding – Welcome to our first book post in 2013! The first book on the schedule is Droll Stories, a collection of bawdy tales by Honore de Balzac. The words are taken from the 1932 LEC printing of the same work, but the Heritage Press commissioned Boris Artzybasheff to supply his artistic touch for their edition. Artzybasheff was perhaps best known for his magazine commissions, including over 200 individual covers of TIME. He won both the Newbery (for Dhan Gopal Mukerji’s Gay Neck; he illustrated it) and Caldecott Honor (for Seven Simeons, in the very first year it was awarded!) awards, which may have provoked Macy to consider him for the job. However, this was the sole Artzybasheff issuing by the Club. Artzybasheff moved into commercial art in the 1940’s, doing fewer book illustrations. I don’t have the Sandglass, so perhaps the reasoning is supplied there. At any rate, I wish our dear artist did accomplish more for the George Macy Company, as I feel that he was quite talented at his craft.

As for Balzac, he is one of the French masters. He challenged the concept of vulgarity (quite so with this work), explored characterization and gave literature a new layer of realistic detail. Let’s tackle his LEC publications:

1932 – Droll Stories, illustrated by W.A. Dwiggins
1948 – Old Goriot, illustrated by Rene ben Sussan
1960 – Eugenie Grandet, illustrated by Rene ben Sussan

The Heritage Press seemed to follow suit, with Sussan’s two issuings seeing reprints, and Droll Stories being reissued with Artzybasheff’s art. Balzac was also borrowed to introduce Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma. FYI, Old Goriot is part of the Nonesuch Press French Author collaboration that produced several Heritage books, which Django6924 generously provided info on here.

I don’t have any design info, alas. I’ll update this when I do. The front and back are certainly not dynamic, barren as they are, but the spine is quite nice.

drollhp-slipcase

Slipcase

drollhp-spine

Spine

drollhp-title

Title Page – Jacques Le Clercq was called upon to translate the tales, and he even offers an introduction. The title illustration gives you a taste of what’s to come. Now, the two selections I’ve picked to represent the book are very risque and are loaded with nudity. So, for those who would prefer not to look, I’ll make the rest of the entry a jump. « Read the rest of this entry »

Of Interest – Eulogy to Book Haven, Monterey, California

January 6, 2013 § 2 Comments

My favorite book shop closed its doors last year, and I mentioned that I would devote a special post to its memory. Well, this is that post. I’ve since discovered that another gentleman, a Mr. Matthew Sundt, has purchased the business and rechristened it Old Captiol Books, so I’m pleased to hear that the store’s core remains. However, I still want to devote space to giving Book Haven a proper eulogy.

Book Haven was a magical place. It was the realization of the perfect dream bookshop for me. Tons upon tons of books, many classics, many Heritage Press and Limited Editions Club titles, and super-friendly proprietors. It was a delight to step inside and experience the wonder of books. It was where I purchased my very first LEC, Man and Superman. I would go on to purchase The House of the Dead, The Oresteia, Three Men in a Boat, The Three-Cornered Hat, Saint-Simon’s Memoirs, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Twenty Years After. All had the same number, #403, which I think is pretty nifty. Hopefully, Old Capitol is still selling some of the remaining stock so I can continue to expand upon those.

Heritage Press books were a huge part of the store’s classic inventory, and I ran off with many of their better selections, including the original issuing of Manon Lescaut. Along with that, my Heritage collection from Book Haven included Resurrection, The Nibelungenlied, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Elegy Written from a Country Churchyard, The Birds and the Frogs, The House of Seven Gables, The Possessed,  A Journal of a Plague Year, and The Ambassadors. I also got my Heritage Saint-Simon from them. Their prices were quite reasonable, $10 – 15 for a book, depending on condition and completeness.

The owners were a delight to discuss books with, too. We had a few really amazing conversations about their LEC history (including hearing about the lovely Fahrenheit 451), and they were kind enough to help us out when another local bookshop’s buyer was absent on a trip, taking a look at our books and giving us money for some of them with little warning.

So, while the shop lives on as Old Captiol, the memories of Book Haven will always be ingrained in my mind. I wish prior owners Guy Rodriguez and Jerry Welling the best in their retirement, and look forward to checking out the new shop to see how Mr. Sundt runs his business.

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