January 12, 2019 § Leave a comment
Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier (1930)
LEC #4/1st Series V. 4 in 1930
Artwork: Vignette on the title page was done by Alice Hubbard Stevens. Otherwise unillustrated.
Foreword by George S. Bryan
#1441 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding – Let’s take a brief respite from Shakespeare to cover what is currently the oldest LEC I own and on the blog as of today: Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier. This was the fourth volume issued by the Limited Edition Club way back in January of 1930, meaning it’s 89 years old this month! It was also the debut of Carl Purington Rollins to the halls of the Club, but we’ll discuss him momentarily.
Whittier was one of America’s most vocal abolitionists as well as a notable poet — Snow-Bound won him a fair amount of acclaim upon its publication in 1865, and his writings on anti-slavery remain in the discourse of U.S. History. Macy fancied his work quite a bit, given the very early publication of Snow-Bound by the Club. Sadly, the title did not earn much accolades from the readership according to the Quarto; he sadly recites a brief anecdote on how one member was so offended to pay $10 for “so slim a book”. Whittier would see a collection of his poetry released in 1945 by the LEC and Heritage Press, and unlike this edition would feature multiple illustrations, done by painter Raymond J. Holden.
Rollins was the printing maestro of Yale University Press, and his debut emphasizes his book design philosophy. Macy was obviously pleased by this edition based on his comments below. Rollins took the title literally with his design, making every component suggest the wintry powder Whittier espouses throughout his poem. The paper is textured and distinctly white, the font gives the impression of snow falling from the sky, and the ornamental letters hide little snowflake adornments within. And the binding of course swirls itself like a blizzard. It evokes the season quite well.
Design Notes – Here’s what the Quarto-Millenary has to say about the design:
Title Page – The title page doesn’t mention its introduction writer, George S. Bryan, who provides a brief foreword. The vignette was designed by Alice Hubbard Stevens, marking the debut of the first woman artist to the Limited Editions Club (and would, to my knowledge, not return for a second commission).
Colophon – This is #1441 of 1500, and was signed by Rollins.
Bibliography – Unlike most LECs, the earlier editions did include a bibliography of earlier titles. I believe volume 6 in the first series, Two Medieval Tales, does the same.
Example of the typeface:
Personal Notes – I purchased this from Old Capitol Books in Monterey on my recent vacation. It has actually been there since 2008, waiting for someone to give it a home. With my last visit, I decided to bring it to mine. It’s neat having a book from the first series after all this time, 10 years into collecting these!
January 6, 2019 § 2 Comments
Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)
LEC #118/11th Series in 1939-1940
Artwork: Drawings by Gordon Craig. Edited and amended by Herbert Farjeon.
Part of the LEC Shakespeare series.
LEC #195 of 1950. LEC exclusive.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Another LEC Shakespeare for you today, this time my personal favorite play: Macbeth. Having been in a production of the “Scottish Play”, it is one I personally enjoy on a level beyond the text. This is the first of the Bard’s tragedies we’ve covered from the series. It was likely performed in 1606 for the first time, and stands as the shortest of this subset of Shakespeare’s theater. It also have quite the mythology surrounding it, in particular never saying its name if you are involved in a production lest you wish to bestow the infamous “curse”. Curiously, my production was beset by some bizarre circumstances, including the sudden and severe illness of one actress and a technician breaking their ankle on stage during dress rehearsals. I’m not the superstitious type, but it was a weird coincidence…
Gordon Craig (aka Edward Gordon Craig) marks his debut to the Limited Editions Club and George Macy’s canon, but this would be his sole contribution. Among collectors today Craig’s artwork is not revered; I personally find his drawings satisfactory enough but they lack the pizazz of many of the other illustrators for this series. This was his second artistic rendering of Shakespeare, handling a publication of Hamlet before. He is far better known for his acting career, where among his acclaimed roles he was the title character for our play in question. For his work here he focused on the costuming (per Macy’s request) with his lithographic crayon drawings, which are quite nice from that perspective. He was also an accomplished wood-engraver, and I wonder how that approach might have been received.
Design Notes – Bruce Rogers designed the LEC Shakespeare. A. Colish printed the text, while Craig’s illustrations were printed by Fernard Mourlot.
Title Page – As with the entire set, Herbert Farjeon handled editing duties for the set.
Colophon – For the LEC Shakespeare, Macy upped the limitation count to 1950 from the usual 1500. This is from the 195th set.
Examples of Craig’s Illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – Of the five LEC Shakespeare a fan of the blog provided me, I have to admit from a literary perspective this was the most exciting for me. I adore this work, and it’s nice to have the LEC edition of it, even if the art is not my favorite.
January 1, 2019 Comments Off on Site News: Image Software Upgrade!
So I made one of my key upgrades for 2019 across all of my sites today — a significant update to my image manipulation software. Through the purchase of four programs I have vastly improved my capability to maximize the quality of my images here, as the above example shows. Another change I’ve been experimenting with is using my new mobile phone camera for the last couple posts; it’s easier to minimize vibration with my phone, and it’s a lot easier to set up than my digital SLR. I do need a vibration reduction lens for that down the road…but for now I’m making due with the best options I have available to me at the present time. These examples do spotlight a potential size increase for the image files, which I will be working on reducing as I continue to play with these new tools. Ultimately, though, these will allow me to produce higher quality work for my posts here, and I’m pleased to make this change after utilizing antiquated software from 2001 up to this point.