Limited Editions Club – The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning (1949)

June 20, 2014 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning (1949)

The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning (1949)
LEC #194/18th Series V. 9 in 1949 in 2 volumes
Artwork: Engravings by Carl Schultheiss
Introduced by Edward Dowden
LEC #1388 of 1500

Click images to see larger views. The LEC edition is on top; Heritage bottom.

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Front Binding – It’s time once more for a thorough LEC/Heritage comparison, and this go-around we have a book I covered long ago: The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning. That post was sparse on details due to the lack of a Sandglass (and my lack of in-depth information on Browning, Carl Schultheiss, and the design), so I’m rewriting this whole thing to provide you, my fine readers, a much better glimpse into this lovely edition. The biggest difference between the LEC and the Heritage is the volume count: the LEC opted for two books, while the Heritage slams everything into an enormous tome. The next most obvious difference is the color scheme. The LEC utilizes a lovely grayish-blue paper for its boards, offset by a luscious red leather for the spine. The Heritage…goes with salmon pink boards and a sea foam green spine. Not exactly the most pleasing of colors, I must admit. I do not know why these were chosen for the Heritage readership, but I prefer the LEC’s selection far more.

Robert Browning was one half of one of the most famous poetic couples in literary history. His wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was renowned as much if not more than her husband, and the LEC issued her Sonnets of the Portuguese one year before Mr. Browning received his first LEC, which is this particular volume. Valenti Angelo served as Mrs. Browning’s illustrator. Robert would get a second LEC twenty years later when a compendium of his poems was issued in the George Macy Company’s twilight year of 1969, with Peter Reddick providing the artwork.

Carl Schultheiss has a lovely bio of how he came to be involved with the George Macy Company in the Monthly Letter below, but I’ll briefly summarize it here. Schultheiss came to America in 1940 after establishing a name for himself in the engraving world in Germany, and entered the Club’s third competition for artwork accompanying their books. The Club was dumbfounded that Schultheiss, then world-renowned, would participate, and they immediately set out to see if the engraver would perform a commission for their readers. Schultheiss had many books he wanted to do, but nearly all of them were titles put out by the Club in past years. One, however, was not: The Ring and the Book. The Club hired Schultheiss to compose copper-plate engravings, and planned to print them by hand for their readership. 16 engravings out of 22 were selected, and thus we have this lovely book. Alas, Schultheiss never did a second work for the company.

Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks were responsible for the printing and design of this book, and as seems to be the case for them, they knocked it out of the park. The Letter feels pretty strongly about this, as well, as they heap tons of praise on the family-run press. Saul designed the binding, while Lillian tackled the page design. 16 point Garamond was chosen to be the font, which was deliberately kerned together to promote a easy flow to the eyes. Pages were printed four at a time; a monumental undertaking given the number of pages in the book and that 1500 copies (plus the few lettered editions out there) had to be made! The reasoning was that the small print runs would provide the perfect amount of ink to each letter, preventing any bleeding, smudging or other printing anomaly. John Anderson was responsible for hand-printing Schultheiss’ engravings, and he delivered. The bindery is not explicitly mentioned, but the Marks were likely the ones to handle it.

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Back Binding – This ornamental piece gives the back a little more artistic flair than most of the other Macy books I own. Saul designed these.

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Spine (LEC)

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Slipcase (LEC)

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Title Page –  Edward Dowden provides the introduction. You’ll notice that the title engravings are different between the editions, and that the LEC specifies the Plantin Press’ involvement.

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Colophon – Schultheiss signs this edtion, and this is #1388 of 1500 copies.

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

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

Personal Notes – I have some backstory on this title, as I’ve owned it three different times in three different editions. XD I was first given this book by my good friend Lois in exchange for a HP Poems of Robert Browning I bought at the anthropology club book sale (see Yates).  I used to volunteer for Lois when she ran her own used book shop, and we have a very solid friendship. We still visit each other as often as time allows. Unfortunately, this first book (which formed the basis of the original post) lacked a Sandglass and slipcase, and I sold it off due to its incompleteness and somewhat beaten status. I got a second HP quite recently, in January 2014 (or so) from the Oakhurst Library collectible sale. I wanted to properly read it, and for $3 or 4, it was worth a second dip. BUT! When I went to Monterey this past May, I went to the impeccable Carpe Diem Fine Books, and they had the LEC at a reasonable price of $125. My wife Tamara was planning on buying me a LEC for my graduation present, and this was the one she picked. So yay for me!

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

I don’t have a Sandglass to share with you for comparative purposes, unfortunately.

Limited Editions Club: A Voyage to the South Seas by William Bligh (1975)

June 6, 2014 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: A Voyage to the South Seas by William Bligh (1975)

A Voyage to the South Seas by William Bligh (1975)
LEC #487/43rd Series V. 5 in 1975
Artwork – Watercolors and drawings by Geoffrey C. Ingleton
Introduced by Alan Villiers
LEC #403 of 1500

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Last year I posted about the lovely LEC Captain Cook. In 1975, Cardevon Press reunited the creative team from that book, Douglas Dunstan of the Griffin Press of Australia and illustrator Geoffrey C. Ingleton, for a second (and final) seafaring, this time the tribulations of Lt. William Bligh of the British Navy aboard the H.M.S. Bounty. You may recognize Bligh from the more famous novel Mutiny on the Bounty (which was also a LEC, issued back in 1947 featuring Fletcher Martin’s artwork), which retold the events of this journal in a more dramatic fashion. While this LEC lacks the astounding production values on the binding in contrast to the Cook (honestly, it would be difficult to top the tapa cloth/kangaroo leather spine combo!), this is a very serviceable edition from the Cardevon period. It’s the tallest LEC I currently own, with large text and striking visuals, and the interior is designed just as exquisitely as Cook’s journals.

Ingelton would end his LEC career with this book, delivering two nautical treasures before stepping away. While we’re briefly touching on the art, this book has a rather infamous (among us Devotees at Librarything, anyway) drawing of a sailor with dropped trousers, having his penis inspected by the ship surgeon for venereal diseases. I didn’t photograph that one, but it is a rather revealing (in many ways!) look into the sailor life, and perhaps a loosening of the moral standards from the earlier days of the Club. There is ample nudity in many older LEC’s and Heritage titles, but this particular scene is of a different mold than the fantastical or humorous takes those books took, in my view. Alongside the Cardevon Flowers of Evil, I think the issuings of this period are a little less concerned with offending clientele.

Design Notes – Dunstan handled design duties, and he is good. The layout of the text and artwork is spectacular. The font is Baskerville in various sizes. Tan paper and terra cotta ink for the endpaper drawings make those particular pages pop, and the binding is a homespun linen decorated with two Ingleton originals: one for the front and one for the back. The Griffin Press handled the printing, binding and illustration duties. More can be gleamed from the letter below.

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Back Binding

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Spine – Gold leaf was put onto the spine, but alas, the spine is a bit faded. Only real blemish to this book.

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Slipcase

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Title Page – Alan Villiers provides an intro. And this is the full title of Bligh’s narrative! It’s a wonder books were printed cheaply in ye olde days.

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Colophon Page – Ingleton and Dunstan both signed this colophon page, and this is yet another #403 in my hat.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this at Old Capitol Books in Monterey last week, capitalizing (I’m being awfully punny today) on a sale to net the book half off its $75 price tag. I’m quite happy to have it, and I’ve finally completed a set of books for an illustrator I adore! Eichenberg, you’re next! :p

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

Heritage Press – Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1966)

June 2, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1966)

Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1966)
Sandglass Number III:31*
Artwork: Illustrations by Charles Raymond
Introduced by John T. Winterich
Reprint of LEC #380, 34th Series, V. 6, in 1966.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – This telltale binding ought to reveal that we’re covering yet another Heritage Dickens! This time, it’s the lesser-regarded (but, in my opinion, most excellent) novel Hard Times. Prior Dickens works covered here so far have been The Pickwick Papers and Five Christmas StoriesThe latter includes Dickens’ complete LEC/Heritage bibliography. Hard Times is a wonderful work that examines poverty, class and greed in a British industrial city, and I greatly enjoyed my reading of it this past semester. In particular, I adore Cecelia “Sissy” Jupe and her defiance of everything expected of a Victorian woman, but the remainder of the novel is quite good, too.

A new artist joins the fold with this book: Charles Raymond. This was his first commission, and he went on to tackle Rudyard Kipling’s Tales of East and West for the Cardevon Press-owned LEC in 1973. To be frank, Raymond’s artwork here is rather lackluster. It renders Dickens’ bold characterizations with a lifelessness I have not seen for some time. It may be the choice of coloring, but I am ultimately unimpressed. Shame, too, as I did think about acquiring the book since I enjoyed it so much! Maybe the LEC is a bit better.

GMD member featherwate passed along some key details from the Sandglass about Raymond and the design info, so I’ll paste that below (with my thanks!):

When Charles Raymond prepared to illustrate our book, he was surprised to find that Hard Times had rarely been issued in an illustrated edition. Therefore, we are all the more pleased that our edition contains his fifteen wash drawings in color — fourteen full-page and a double spread. In addition you will find that each of the thirty-seven chapters opens with a Raymond line drawing. The Charles Raymond we are talking about is a forty-two-year-old English artist to whom colors have an especial meaning, for his addiction is botanical painting and fabric design. No wonder that when he reread Hard Times it appeared to him in terms of the spectrum. Here is his explanation: ‘I became aware of the colours of aging — browns, greens, and brown-greens — and decided that these should be my colours. I felt strongly that the nearer I came to monochromatic interpretation the better would be the final result.’ These smoky wash drawings, which convincingly evoke the special atmosphere of Coketown, have been reproduced with wonderful fidelity by The Connecticut Printers of Bloomfield, Connecticut.

Charles Raymond has produced paintings for a series of volumes on the old garden roses with Sacheverell Sitwell; the Queen Mother headed the impressive list of subscribers. He illustrated The Complete Library of the Garden for The Reader’s Digest Association, Limited, and he has recently been completing the same firm’s guide to Great Britain. Raymond has done a set of rose paintings for Conde Nast and he regularly illustrates for New Society, the weekly survey of the social sciences. ‘I am deeply interested in female and child fashion,’ Charles Raymond has informed us, ‘more so since the coming of the boutique. These latter interests are stimulated by my beautiful young German wife and our three children, two daughters and a son, ages two, four, and five years.’ (The Raymond family lives in Wye, Kent.)

“One reason for the sheer readability of our volumes of Dickens’s works is that the type is Baskerville, a smooth-flowing, clear face which Joe Blumenthal specified back there in 1937 and which your Hard Times proudly displays in the eleven-point size, with two points of leading. The illustrations and the text of this Heritage Club offering were printed by The Connecticut Printers of Bloomfield, Connecticut, on a specially made wove paper, tough and pure in content, manufactured by the Monadnock Paper Company of Bennington, New Hampshire. The gray linen cover, stamped with the decorations originally drawn for us by Clarence Pearson Hornung, is one of the few uniform cover designs in the Heritage roster; the two shelfback sketches of characters from Hard Times were provided by Charles Raymond. This binding was performed by the Russell-Rutter Company of New York.

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Spine

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Title Page – Despite the lack of a proper announcement on the title page, George Macy Company’s John T. Winterich does give a brief introduction to this book.

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

Personal Notes – I intended on using Raymond’s illustrations for a post on my other blog discussing Hard Times (if you are curious, it’s here), so I checked this out from the library. After seeing them, I declined. I’d like to see the LEC to see if the coloration of the art is different, but as of right now I’m not interested in owning this, despite loving the book.

As a final curio about Mr. Raymond, featherwate also notified me that Mr. Raymond and his wife were the models for Alex Comfort’s seminal The Joy of Sex‘s illustrations, which Raymond also drew. In fact, knowing that now, I can see the resemblance between that book and this one’s art. The more you know!

Updated 6/6/2014 JF

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