Heritage Press: Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1941, 1947)

December 23, 2013 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1941, 1947)

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1941)
Sandglass Number 6E
Artwork: Engravings by Dale Nichols
Heritage Press Exclusive Edition; the LEC would print their own edition with Hans Alexander Mueller’s engravings as LEC #185, 17th Series, V. 12 in 1947, of which the Heritage reprint is below!

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Front Binding and Spine – Ah, it’s nice to be back writing posts about these amazing books once again. And I’ve got a pair of Two Years Before the Mast to kick things off this winter break! Before starting proper, I must thank Django6924 for once again aiding me in yet another post about the George Macy Company. Honestly, this blog gets a hefty chunk of its information from this delightful sage of these tomes, and without his aid this post would be half as full as it is…since the first book was photographed by him! Much thanks for everything you’ve done for me, Robert. :)

Anyway, Richard Henry Dana Jr. wrote Two Years Before the Mast while sick with measles (as both Sandglasses point out), and subsequently eclipsed his poet father and many other travel writers of his time with this epic historical narrative of his time sailing near California. This book also mentions my hometown in the subsequent appendix, when he visits John C. Fremont at his Las Mariposas ranch in California, making it the second – and quite likely the last – book in the Macy catalog to cover Gold Rush California in any detail (the first was Tales of the Gold Rush by Bret Harte). Well, that’s not quite true, as there is The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain…

Tangent aside, Dana would have his classic printed twice in six years by Macy, with this exquisite Heritage exclusive beating out the LEC edition to release in 1941. Dale Nichols was recruited in to handle design and illustration duty, the only time he would work for the Company. An engraver by trade, Nichols went through a crazy amount of preparation and care to produce the color woodcuts in this book, which I’ll let the Sandglass explain.

Design Notes: Baskerville is the font of choice. Quinn and Boden handled the printing, Pioneer-Moss created the color plates, and apparently Mr. Nichols handled the binding duties himself!

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Title Page – A very nice, subdued title page with a fancy title script. Classy. There is no mention here or in the Sandglass of an introduction writer for this edition, which the later edition does feature.

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Colophon

Examples of the Illustrations by Nichols (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1947)
Sandglass Number IV:31
Artwork: Engravings by Hans Alexander Mueller
Introduced by William McFee
Reprint of LEC #185, 17th Series, V. 12, in 1947.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Compared to the earlier exclusive, this binding has a gaudy look to it, doesn’t it? I’ve never been too keen on it, but the 1941 Nichols edition really does blow this one out of the water. Anywho, in 1947, the Limited Editions Club commissioned Hans Alexander Mueller to create his own Two Years, and as he too is a wood engraver, this version also has wood engravings…in color! I’m not sure why exactly Mueller was called in to do essentially the same kind of work as Nichols had six years prior, but it happened, so we’ll move forward.

Mueller created three books for George Macy’s LEC: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped came first in 1938, with this in the middle, and the last being Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in 1956. All of these saw Heritage releases, and as far as I can tell he did not create any Heritage exclusives.

Design Notes: Richard Ellis served as the book’s designer (add yet another to his tally!). Apparently Paul Bunyan was his first! Caledonia is the book’s primary font, with A. Colish’s Mount Vernon press producing the print. The bindery is omitted this time, alas.

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Slipcase

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Title Page – William McFee stepped in to provide a preface to the work, which I’d like to know if the Nichols edition featured or not.

Examples of the Illustrations by Mueller (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I acquired this as part of my 50 book acquisition from the Oakhurst Library in 2012. It’s nice, but I do think the Nichols edition is the better option, at least in the Heritage offerings. I’ll have to look at the LEC sometime!

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

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