Of Interest: Illinois Gear & Machine Co. Heritage Press Volumes

December 31, 2018 Comments Off on Of Interest: Illinois Gear & Machine Co. Heritage Press Volumes

It was brought to my attention that the Heritage Press created several exclusive variants of their volumes for the Illinois Gear & Machine Co. As my good friend Django6924 explains:

The Illinois Gear books were a special lot done produced over several years for that Chicago Company to give as gifts. This was on a different business plan than the leather-bound editions of books such as the HP David Copperfield, Leaves of Grass, Life on the Mississippi, etc., which were offered to Club members during the regular series. The Illinois Gear books look very much to be forerunners of the Easton Press editions, with silk moiré end papers and elaborate gilt tooling on the leather binding. Mine has the tipped-in, slip sheeted presentation page (but no name handwritten in the “Especially For” blank), and is the letterpress-printed Tales of the Gold Rush by Bret Harte. The copyright date is 1944, the date of the original, and that may be when the pages were actually printed as the paper and printing look to be much earlier than what was typical by the 1969 date on the presentation page.

The leather binding on my copy is very durable pebble-grained leather. It is much superior to the leather used on my HP Rubaiyat, Song of Songs, and David Copperfield, which were offered to Heritage Club members at a price premium during the regular subscription series. Although I don’t care for the pasted-in silk moiré endpapers, the book is very handsome and still looks new.

Michael Bussacco had produced a list of known titles released in this subset of publications, which GMD user astronauteric expanded upon in this thread. Here’s a typed version of the entire list:

1954 The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon by Washington Irving
1955 Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
1956 The Romance of Leonardo Da Vinci
1957 Life of Rembrandt
1958 This is the Hour: A Novel about Goya
1959 Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
1960 The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
1961 Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
1962 The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
1963 Kim by Rudyard Kipling
1964 The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper
1965 The Ambassadors by Henry James
1966 Stories of O. Henry
1967 Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana
1968 The Mill and the Floss by George Eliot
1969 Tales of the Gold Rush by Bret Harte
1970 Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau
1971 The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

1972 would be the year (thereabouts) MBI bought the Heritage Press from Jonathan Macy, so it is fitting that these editions would end following that transaction.

The notable differences are the bindings, of course, which are rather nice leather-bound covers with exquisite design work. Slipcases were also included, and feature an additional title page with the company’s name and a space for a particular client/customer name to be added.

I do not own any of these nor have I come across one in my travels, but there are a few links to samples in the above link. If I do see one at a reasonable price I’ll be sure to pick it up and catalog it here!

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