Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: The Histories of Herodotus (1958)

June 26, 2016 § 4 Comments

The Histories of Herodotus (1958)
LEC #293/27th Series V. 2 in 1958
Artwork: Illustrated and Decorated by Edward Bawden
Introduced and translated from the Greek by Harry Carter
#660 of 1500. Heritage edition detailed below.

Before I begin this post proper, I need to take a moment and dedicate this post to longtime Devotee and frequent visitor to this site Don Floyd, who has seemingly passed away within the past six months since I or any of the other Devotee have heard from him. Another reason we believe he has passed on is that his collection — a nearly complete set of LECs, several of which he personally had rebound — has ended up on eBay. It’s truly tragic to see Don’s pride and joy not go to its intended home following his passing; he had plans to donate his collection to his alma mater.

That all being said, I will miss Don’s candor. He definitely had a strong opinion against Heritage Press books, and he was particularly ornery about certain topics, but he was a wonderful man to talk to and learn from. He provided information for me to utilize here on the blog more than once, and I can think of few individuals who were as devoted or passionate about George Macy and his publications as he was. Don Floyd will also be missed here as he was arguably my most frequent commenter. So rest in peace, Don; you will not be forgotten.

Click images for a larger view.

Dsc_0019

Front Binding – After five long years, I can finally revisit and update you on the differences between the LEC and Heritage editions of The Histories of Herodotus, a title I have sought since I originally stumbled upon the Heritage books that originally comprised this post! And the circumstances of my coming upon this book is quite a story as well; perhaps not as notable or important as the histories contained within, but I hope intriguing! I’ll discuss that in the Personal Notes below.

Onto the book proper. The Limited Editions Club printed these very early classics in the history genre in 1958. Given George’s death in 1956, it’s probable he had some hand in the formation of this book more than his wife Helen, who carried the Club through the next decade. Herodotus is considered “the father of history” (a term given to him by Cicero), pioneering a new approach to writing historical works through the use of historiography, utilizing ethnographic and geographical information to serve as his support. Not everything he writes about in this book is infallible; Herodotus stated that he took what he got from his sources as credible, and there are a few spots where the text is shaky. However, taken as a whole Herodotus’ volumes are fairly accurate to the actual events known of the Greco-Persain Wars. This is the sole work of his that made it to modern times, and is thus the sole production from the LEC or the Heritage Press.

Edward Bawden makes a bold imprint on the LEC legacy with this book. His artistic flourishes for the title page and chapter openers are colorful, crisp dioramas twisting different motifs and symbols into delightful setpieces. He also supplied several line drawings that are sprinkled in the text. My frequent source Django6924 had this to say about Bawden when this was originally posted:

Bawden, born in 1903, and who was a famous English War Artist in WW II and did a tour in Abyssinia, did 102 pen and ink drawings to illustrate the text, and ten double-page color spreads to introduce each of the 9 books (plus one for the title page). …these are very exotic, combining elements of Attic and Persian art in a tapestry-like effect.

Bawden would also contribute to 1960’s Salammbo LEC, written by Gustave Flaubert.

Design Notes – Herodotus’ ancient Greek was translated by Harry Carter, who also served as one of the designers of the book. He also, according to Django6924:

In addition to his translating and editing tasks, Harry Carter compiled helpful marginal glosses which are on nearly every page of text, as compiling an Index which is a marvel of utility and fun: consider such Index items as “Arrows, messages shot with,” and “Beans, abhorred by the Egyptians.”

LEC legend Jan van Krimpen (who was the original lead designer until his death) and Bawden also had a hand in the design. Django6924 supplied these additional details:

The book’s designer was Jan van Krimpen of Joh. Ensched√© en Zonen fame, whose printing company in the Netherlands did many great LEC and Heritage books, as well as many other fine books and postage stamps. He needed help from both the illustrator Edward Bawden and also the translator, Harry Carter, as he died in October, 1958 while working on the project. The text used is his Monotype Spectrum, the last face Krimpen ever designed.

van Krimpen may have died in this midst of his involvement with this book, but his legacy in the annals of the LEC and Heritage Press will not be forgotten, as this book will serve as a testimony of.

The paper was Wolvercoat paper from Oxford, England, printed up by van Krimpen’s printing house Joh. Ensched√© en Zonen of Haarlem, Holland. J. Brandt and Zoon of Amsterdam served as the binding house for the LEC. As I don’t have a monthly letter at hand, this is as far as I can go into production details at present.

Dsc_0018
Spine

Dsc_0017
Slipcase

Dsc_0020

Title Page – Bawden’s decorations are exquisite! Worth the price of admission for sure. Carter also provides an introduction to the text.

Dsc_0030

Colophon – 1500 copies were produced. This is #660, and Bawden provides his signature.

Dsc_0021

Book I Opener – I’m making an exception to my usual “gallery” template for this post to showcase these amazing works of Bawden’s.

Dsc_0023

Book II Opener

Dsc_0022

Page 5 – An example of the linework and text. You can see one of Carter’s annotations in the bottom right.

Personal Notes – So, five years after posting this, I finally got my hands on the LEC edition of this marvelous book. As I mentioned above, it’s an interesting story. I arrived to work Monday morning to find a message on my phone. It was from someone I had never met before (we’ll call her Liz) inquiring if I was the person who ran this very blog, and that she was seeking a good home for some LEC titles she couldn’t take with her when she moved. That was a bit of a shock! I reached out at my break and by the end of the call, I was going to receive 10 books from her to document and keep in my collection. A week or so later (after some frightening “tourism” the USPS decided to give my package, having it wander off to Cincinnati for an extended detour), the books arrived safe and sound. So I’m tickled to finally have this book (and the others!), and a big thank you to Liz for her generosity in sending them to me.

Heritage Press

The Histories of Herodotus (1958, 2 volumes)
Sandglass Number II & III: 24
Artwork: Illustrated and Decorated by Edward Bawden
Introduced and translated from the Greek by Harry Carter
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #293/27th Series V. 2 in 1958

Click images for a larger view.

Front Bindings – As you can see, the Heritage edition splits the sole LEC into two nice looking volumes with a fairly striking design on the boards. This is duplicated on the back as well. Here’s Django6924’s thoughts between the LEC and HP editions, as well as some insights into the creation of this set:

I have both the LEC edition and the Heritage Press edition, and this is one case where the Heritage is the clear winner. Why?

First of all, the LEC is a single chunky volume while the Heritage books are much more reader-friendly. The printing is identical–if you compare two pages side-by-side, they are indistinguishable, same size and same pagination. Secondly, as WildcatJF points out, the binding design is striking to say the least! I love the vertical title arrangement on the spines–a technique that is seldom used but which I prefer to the more usually found arrangement where you have to cock your head to the left or right to read the title. The LEC binding is subdued, a burgundy buckram (that has faded on my otherwise pristine copy two shades paler), with a small white title label and a white medallion on the front cover. Very high quality and elegant (I particularly like the beveled edges), but I really prefer the wilder Heritage design.

The Heritage Sandglass number (2 actually) are II & III: 24–the books were sent out in separate months, but only one Sandglass.

They were printed separately and tipped in to the text, which was printed by Kellogg & Bulkeley of Hartford, CT, on paper specially made for this edition the the Crocker, Burbank Paper Company of Fitchburg, MA.

The binding was done, as it usually was in this period, by Frank Fortney and his Russell-Rutter Company.

I like the simple class act of the LEC design a lot, but there’s a unity and flair to the Heritage volumes I think I prefer slightly more. The interiors are pretty similar in terms of quality, too. I’m sure higher production value was put into the papers, inks and materials, but the Heritage reprint does a pretty remarkable job holding up to the LEC. I’m not going to part with my LEC, but I can understand why someone would take the plunge on the Heritage over it!

Spines – I particularly like the spine design here, as Django6924 notes.

Title Page – Pretty similar to the LEC, with only the printing press swapped out. Sorry about the library card blocking the view, but it’s now at least visible in the LEC image above.

Book I Decoration – As you can see, the Heritage does an admirable (if not extraordinary) job replicating the images of the LEC. This was not a rush job, for sure.

Book II Decoration

Personal Notes – Checked out from my Mariposa Library, and one I believe I saw in stores only once (and I had LEC options for other books, so I went that direction instead). Now that I hold the LEC in my collection, I won’t be on the hunt for this set any longer.

Updated 6/26/2016 by JF

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for June, 2016 at The George Macy Imagery.