Two Medieval Tales by Robert Louis Stevenson (1930)
LEC #6/1st Series V. 6 in 1930
Artwork: Illustrations by C.B. Falls
Introduced by Clayton Hamilton
LEC #278 of 1500. LEC exclusive.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – It’s been some time since Robert Louis Stevenson has appeared on the blog! This is not anything deliberate, as I would love to have more of his works than the one I currently do, and there is no shortage of Stevenson in the LEC! He was the fourth most published author by the Limited Editions Club with nine individual works, which I detail out in the Child’s Garden of Verses post. One of my favorite places in the world, Monterey, CA, features a rooming house he stayed at when he was briefly living in the state, and it is rumored he may have had some inspiration for Treasure Island from his jaunts along the piers and docks of the city.
Curiously, the first book published by the LEC was not Treasure Island, or Kidnapped, or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (all of which WOULD come in a few decade’s time), but a collection of two short stories he wrote set in “mediaeval” times, “A Lodging for the Night” and “The Sire de Malétroit’s Door”. These originally appeared in New Arabian Nights, a collection of short stories published in 1877 (and would see its own Limited Editions Club edition, the last he would receive, issued in 1976 under Cardevon Press’ tenure). The book is also unfortunately maligned by Macy as the low point of the first series, mainly from a production standpoint.
You see, Macy entrusted the design of this book to its illustrator, C.B. Falls. Charles Buckles Falls was an illustrator and author, who was best known for his World War I poster advertisements and his book The ABC Book. He garnered acclaim for a raw, aggressive artistic style with bold colors and eccentric lettering. He brings that dynamic approach to this commission, and it ended up being a bit divisive. Personally, I like his illustrations in this edition, but I can see how his work might not connect with these tales set in distant times. Macy’s main issue, as noted in his comments from the QM, was the typography plan Falls devised. The font choice and placement aren’t executed as well as all of the others in the first series. However, Macy didn’t wish to cause any disruption with Mr. Falls or with the printer, Hal Marchbanks, and let the book come out as Falls created it…and immediately regretted it. Perhaps this is why Falls never returned to the fold of collaborators?
Design Notes – Per the QM:
Title Page – Clayton Hamilton provides the introduction to this edition.
Colophon – This is #278 of 1500, and was signed by Falls.
Examples of Falls’ illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I’ve seen a copy of this book for almost as long as I’ve collected LECs; a rather abused copy resided at Bookhaven in Monterey for quite some time, but my copy ended up coming from Powell’s sometime in 2020. This is a much nicer copy than the one introducing me to this edition, haha. I’m happy to have it, even if it’s among Macy’s least favorites.