Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen (1965)

June 10, 2017 § 4 Comments

Limited Editions Club

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964
Artwork: Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner

#144 of 1500. Heritage edition detailed below.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Hello again, dear readers. It’s been almost a half year since we last had a book post pop up here at the blog, and over those six months my life has continued to change. I needed to get away for a bit to mature and rediscover myself, and I think I’m finally at a good point to pick up this project once again and discuss these lovely books. So I hope you can excuse me revising an old post as my return so I can get this back under my belt again. Thankfully it’s a nice edition from the Helen Macy period; Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen! This set features three of his biggest works: the biggies Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck leap to the forefront, although An Enemy of the People is also a classic. The Limited Editions Club previously published Peer Gynt in 1955 for the LEC and 1957 for the Heritage Press.

Artistically Fredrik Matheson was recruited to do woodcuts for this edition, and they are quite lovely. This was his only commission, but it’s a memorable one! The LEC features more colors in its prints than the Heritage; a common trend in Helen Macy’s period.

Design Notes – Matheson was responsible for the design along with Arnstein and Agnar Kirste, owners of the Kirstes Boktrykkeri (aka bookprintery, as the Sandglass defines it) of Oslo, Norway, where the book was printed and bound. The text is Garamond. Beyond this, I can’t get into any more specifics due to no LEC letter either in my book or from my fellow collectors. Once one turns up I’ll update this.

Spine

Slipcase

Title Page – The title page fails to mention the translators/editor of this set. An Enemy of the People was rendered into English by Eleanor Marx-Aveling, the daughter of Communist Manifesto author Karl Marx. William Archer, the editor of this book, collaborated on Hedda Gabler‘s translation with Edmond Gosse, and Archer’s wife Florence Elizabeth Archer did the honors for The Wild Duck. John Gassner, who is credited here, offers up an Introduction.

Colophon – Matheson signed this copy, and this is #144 out of 1500.

Examples of the Illustrations by Matheson – I’m skipping the Gallery to make the comparisons easier to see.

Page 2

Page 7 – I really like Matheson’s artwork. His larger prints are full color wood engravings (with each color being a different block, which blows the mind if you begin to think about the craft of such precision on multiple blocks), while the smaller ones are mere monochrome (but still special!).  This would be his sole work for the George Macy Company, but he certainly left his mark. The colors are more dynamic in the LEC in contrast to the Heritage; notice the reds and peach tones.

Page 59 – This one, meanwhile, had a lot of blues the Heritage lacks.

Personal Notes – I purchased this at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, CA when I was last there, alongside the Quarto-Millenary. I essentially got it from free. :) It’s nice to have this back; as I note below in the original post, I lost my Heritage copy to water damage, and now I have the more luxurious LEC to replace it.

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
Sandglass Number XV:29
Artwork – Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner
Reprint of LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964

Front Binding – Unfortunately, the first thing that probably leaps to the eye is the staining the bottom of the binding features — I’m not sure if it was coffee or some other tannish liquid, but considering I got this book for free, I did not complain too much. However, a second mishap splashed water over several of my incomplete tomes, and this received additional damage while I attempted to dry it off.

Design Notes – The Heritage was printed by Kellogg and Bulkeley in Hartford, Connecticut on paper from the Cumberland Mills of Maine, which are owned by the S.D. Warren Company of Boston. The Russell-Rutter Company performed bindery duties, and the boards have a pattern paper meant to resemble a curtain, appropriate for Ibsen, legend of theater.

Title Page – The same as the LEC minus the red.

Page 7 – As you can see, this is less colorful than the LEC, but still nice. The Sandglass gets deep into Matheson’s art career on Page 4.

Page 17

Page 61

Personal Notes – I was sad to see this one go. I got this as a gift from my anthropology instructor, who salvaged it from somewhere. Thankfully I now have the LEC!

Sandglass:

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§ 4 Responses to Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen (1965)

  • Angela says:

    I have a copy with no stains at al. Beautiful book, great collection. Few others too, such as Henry James, etc.

    • Wildcat-Lvl says:

      Aye, it is. I look forward to putting it back in my collection.

      *Note – I’m not buying books through the blog here – If you did not plan to do such a thing, I apologize! I get more than a few offers to do that here, and I don’t have any plans of doing that.

  • django6924 says:

    The LEC really does seem luxurious compare to the HP edition! I received the HP waaaay back when I was a Heritage Club member and never replaced it with an LEC, being very content with it. Now I’ve seen this posting, I do feel that it would be nice to see that leather spine on my shelf….

  • Jack Feathering says:

    Jerry
    Eleanor Marx-Aveling was also the translator of the 1938 Madame Bovary LEC . She was credited on the title-page but nowhere mentioned in the Monthly Letter; perhaps Macy thought some of his more conservative subscribers might leave the club if they discovered she was the daughter of the notorious Karl!
    The 1950 Madame Bovary LEC had a different translator, James Lewis May, an English author and critic well known for his translations from Italian, French and Latin (including Ovid’s love poems with mildy shocking illustrations). He was a friend, biographer and translator of Macy and GMD favorite Anatole France. His translation of Madame Bovary was published in 1928, illustrated by another Macy favorite, John Austen – small world!
    Unlike Ms Marx-Aveling May isn’t mentioned at all in his Bovary ML, which is much taken up with Pierre Brissaud’s illustrations. Like Frederik Matheson’s Ibsen pictures, these were complex full color wood engravings.
    Jack

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