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.


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.






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.

Example Illustrations by Artzybasheff (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full-size):

Personal Notes – I was given this by my good friend Lois, who I’ve mentioned many times on this blog (if not by name; she sold me Beowulf, traded me The Ring and the Book for my Poems of Browning, etc.). It’s in very good condition, and I really happen to like Artzybasheff’s whimsical artwork. I’ve read a tale or two, and it’s certainly vulgar for its time. It didn’t really resonate, though, but I’ll give it another chance someday.

If you have the Sandglass, I’d love to add that information to the post. Please drop me a line in the comments here or through my thread at Librarything. Thanks!

Updated 6/5/2014 by JF


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§ 8 Responses to Heritage Press – Droll Stories by Honore de Balzac (1939)

  • Don Floyd (lecoll) says:

    I don’t have a scanner so I can’t get a Sandglass copy to you. Will look up Sandglass and see what it says.

  • Bob Gossard says:

    I believe the Sunglass number for Droll Stories to be “2 K” just FYI.

    • WildcatJF says:

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for the info, but the Sandglasses do vary from printing to printing, and I’d like to have the information and the Sandglass to be connected. If you do have the Sandglass in question, I’d appreciate any production info you can gleam from it!

      • Bob Gossard says:


        I will need to get back to you pertaining to any information I can find out. All of the books are at my other residence in boxes on the floor in a spare bedroom till I find appropriate shelving. I’m helping a friend prepare for assisted living and therefore I became the recipient of all one hundred and ten of them (plus many others unrelated to Heritage Press). I will be going to my lake house next week.
        I would also like to take the opportunity to thank you for what you do on your web page. Greatly appreciated by myself and surely by so many others. Thank you.


      • Bob Gossard says:


        I’ve started cross referencing my inventory of Heritage Press with your personal colletion in order to provide you with Sandglass numbers based on year of publication for books of which the numbers you might not have. I haven’t gone beyond your Salome (5J 1947).

        The Aeneid 5H 1946, Beowulf 5K 1946, Droll Stories 2K 19??,
        The Essays of Waldo Emerson First & Second Series Volume 1 II 18 1953, Cyrano de Bergerac IX 18 1954, Story of Manon Lescaut 3K 19??, Vicar of Wakefield 10MM 1955,Confessions of an English Opium-Eater 1P 1950.

        If this is beneficial to you I will complete my cross referencing. I’ll wait to hear feed back.


      • Bob Gossard says:


        I now have the additional information on Droll Stories.
        The following reads on an inside page at the top:
        The Translation copyright 1932 by The Limited Editions Club.
        The Special Contents of this edition copyright 1939 by the Heritage Press. The title of the sandglass narrative is “Those Droll Stories”.
        The club member back then received the book in October 1940.


      • WildcatJF says:

        Hi Bob,

        Been busy with school, so I haven’t been able to communicate back. I appreciate you digging up this information! I’ll update the post when I have some time.

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