March 27, 2015 Comments Off
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1951)
LEC #212/20th Series V. 4 in 1951
Artwork: Wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett. Preface by John T. Winterich.
LEC #734 of 1500; Upgrade of the Heritage exclusive Fathers and Sons, issued in 1941 (see below)
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Hello, everyone! The hiatus is indeed over. I think I just needed something to kickstart my interest in posting about books, and apparently acquiring a few new titles does that!
Today is the second and final work of Ivan Turgenev’s output for the Limited Editions Club, Fathers and Sons. In case you missed the first post on the Cardevon Press published The Torrents of Spring, click this link. This is also the third time we’ve covered a LEC that came from a Heritage Press exclusive! The two earlier instances we’ve documented include Crime and Punishment and The Diary of Moll Flanders. The former shares a connection with this book in its illustrator; yes, that ever-so-frequent artist of many of the Macy Russian novels — and personal favorite — Fritz Eichenberg. The German-born Eichenberg seemed to have a knack for conjuring up the right mood for the works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin and now Turgenev; the only Russian masters he missed were Gogol and Chekhov. I’ve documented Eichenberg’s extensive career for Macy and the subsequent LEC handlers here.
So, with Turgenev and Eichenberg thoroughly covered, let’s get into the production details. The Heritage original came out in 1941 (the first illustrated edition of the work, even!), and the LEC decided to try their own spin on the classic as well in 1951 (curious how both Crime and Punishment and Fathers and Sons took exactly ten years for Macy to come to the decision to upgrade the Heritage to a LEC; I’ll have to check on Moll Flanders). The illustrations for this edition were taken directly from Eichenberg’s woodblocks, which he had fortunately retained during the decade following the original publication (the Heritage original used electroplating to reproduce the artwork and text for cost management purposes). The Heritage was composed and printed by A. Colish on Worthy Paper Company paper, and bound by the ever-reliable Russell-Rutter. The LEC edition, on the other hand, was handed over to the Spiral Press and Joseph Blumenthal for its execution. The letter notes that The Lyrics of Francois Villon (1931), Sister Carrie (1938), The Pilgrim’s Progress (1940), and Spoon River Anthology (1941) were previously done by the Press, but World War II made Blumenthal to shut down the printing shop in order to join the fight, and only after its conclusion and subsequent resetting of shop could he once more print books. Blumenthal designed the LEC edition with the Scotch font, which was printed on Curtis Paper Company paper (“Curtis Rag”, to be specific). Eichenberg contributed the chapter flourishes, printed in a gray ink. The illustrations were printed on Japanese “wood-block” paper, a light paper that works quite well to make Eichenberg’s scenes pop on the page. The Spiral Press also handled this business. The bindery is absent, but the text suggests to me that Blumenthal handled that, too. Eichenberg supplied a new illustration to be brass-stamped onto the black buckram front board; the back is lacking the art, but keeps the cloth. The spine is a natural buckram, with a leather block featuring the title done in gold leaf, which Eichenberg also supplied.
Title Page – Constance Garnett’s translations are once more summoned for this particular work; it’s a rare instance when she is not the translator of a Russian text. Heritage Press/LEC board member John T. Winterich takes over Preface duties.
Colophon – Eichenberg signs this edition, and this is #734 of 1500 copies.
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I took a bit of a gamble on this work, as I ordered it online from ABEBooks. It looked fantastic from the store-supplied photos, and the price of $25 (with shipping) for a complete edition was too good to pass up. Luckily, the book is as advertised, and I’m giddy at having my third Eichenberg LEC.
LEC Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Now let’s take a look at the Heritage original…
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1941)
Sandglass Number 4E
Artwork: Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett. Preface by John T. Winterich.
Originally a Heritage Press exclusive; upgraded in 1951 to a LEC.
Front Binding – Django6924 contributes the following info and photographs of his Heritage copy:
…the 1941 edition of Turgenev’s Fathers & Sons, which came about, according to Sandglass 4E, because of the astounding popularity of the earlier HP original Crime & Punishment, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. The HP subscribers apparently clamored for another Russian novel illustrated by Eichenberg, and though it seems odd the one they chose was Fathers & Sons, it was, to quote the Bard, “a hit! A palpable hit!” — so much so that, as it did with the Dostoevsky novel, the LEC issued its own Fathers & Sons 10 years later with these same illustrations. The LEC version is very nice, with a beautiful paper and a more sober binding design, but I must say I prefer the HP’s binding, and since I have both, I can vouch that the reproductions of Eichenberg’s wood engravings are just as good here as in the LEC — identical to my eyes. The typography is also superb…The novel itself is of major importance in Russian literature, and Turgenev’s best-known. (Please excuse the quality of the photography — everything was shot under available light as my studio lights are all in storage.)
The Sandglass (4E) does not mention the designer other than saying it was intended to be a “companion volume” to the HP Crime and Punishment, so I would assume the designer of that edition, Carl Purington Rollins, deserves the credit, though I suspect if anyone did the actual design it was George Macy.
The production details are below:
Title – Winterich is not credited on the title page as he is in the LEC, but he does have a preface here. These pages were totally redesigned for the LEC run; of note is the drastically different title font and color.
Examples of the Heritage Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Big thanks to Django6924 for the use of his book, Sandglass, info and photography for the Heritage half of this post.
December 17, 2014 Comments Off
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1946*, 3 volumes)
Sandglass Number 9JR-10JR-11JR
Artwork: Illustrations from the etchings of Gian Battista Piranesi
Introduction, Index and editing by J.B. Bury. Notes from Edward Gibbon. An additional Letter to the Reader from Philip Guedalla and a Note on Piranesi from Paul McPharlin is also included.
Reprint of LEC #174, 16th Series, V. 12, in 1946 in 7 volumes.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Well, it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally tackling some of those multi-volume works I’ve had lurking within my collection for the month of December. To kick things off, we’re reviewing the famous history The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, issued as a three volume set by the Heritage Press. The LEC broke the text up into seven books, making it perhaps more readable. Regardless, this is a treat to the eyes. Gibbon’s text is accompanied by the reprinted etchings of one Gian Battista Piranesi, and together you have fifty years of Rome research (twenty for Gibbon’s text; thirty for Piranesi’s artwork) neatly compiled into one convenient set. Gibbon nor Piranesi would see another Macy commission, which is understandable. The two were primarily known for their respective works of Rome, and with this issuing, I presume there wasn’t any need to utilize either again. I do like this set, though — the covers are quite classy, and the spine design of crumbling pillars is among the greatest the Heritage Press put out (the LEC used a similar motif, but I think I prefer the HP version of it more). Just a lovely set altogether.
Design Notes – My, there’s a lot of bakers in this book’s metaphorical kitchen! The book was designed by Paul McPharlin. My initial research told me that McPharlin was primarily known as a puppeteer, but he did some book design as a side project of sorts. nicklong at the Devotee boards did a very thorough hunt for information on him, and he was kind enough to allow me to quote him here:
To say that he’s quite the interesting character is an understatement! There’s a book about him in which the LEC Decline & Fall is afforded merely a single sentence (and yet there are pages after pages about all the other books & design work that he did). Without going to the University of New Mexico or accessing his correspondence, the best guess I can venture as to about when this project was begun is all due to circumstantial evidence.
Apparently he had quite a distinguished bibliophile career (cut tragically short by a brain tumor – he died in 1948). There’s a fantastic book on his life, which actually focused more on puppetry than books Paul Mcpharlin And the Puppet Theater. There’s a wealth of data in there that can be found if you use exact searches, but the book and man fascinate me so much that I may have to find the book for myself later on. Throwing all puppetry aside, here’s a brief rundown of what I *just* found in that book:
He was a member of the Typophiles organization.
He designed and illustrated several books – especially for the Peter Pauper Press.
He was drafted in July of 1942, and while in the Army did several “literary” things, including starting a newspaper and such (far too many to list). The Howard book goes on to mention that McPharlin was able to complete several side projects while overseas and that the publication history of several books (mostly Peter Pauper Press books) do not mention or reflect when McPharlin’s work was complete or begun, such as the Peter Pauper’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. the McPharlin edition. It has no copyright date, and everywhere I look for it – it’s dated as “ca 1940s”. There is an edition printed in 1949 using Vera Bock’s illustrations. The Howard book mentions that McPharlin completed his illustrations for this edition in 1942 but that it wasn’t printed in 1942, and it was implied that it was printed at least a couple of years later.
Due to his reputation as a puppetmaster, I strongly suspect this is why he got involved with George Macy for the 1937 Punch & Judy LEC edition (he wrote the introduction and edited the book). Apparently he kept up a correspondence with Macy that lasted years, but had a stronger relationship with Peter Beilenson of Peter Pauper Press. McPharlin’s New York years (1944-1948) were when he did most of the book work in his life (note that this isn’t “all”, just where the greatest volume was).
I strongly suspect that McPharlin was able to acquire the folio of prints in Italy somehow during his service, or in 1945 during the few months between the war’s end and the Monthly’s Letter’s date (assuming that the 1945 date is not a typo). Yet, either way – this is still superhuman to me. Designing and completing the whole set within a year or starting the layout process during wartime is still an impressive achievement.
He also got the Piransei portfolios utilized for this book’s illustrations, composed the headings (both in terms of their design and their selection; McPharlin used Gibbon’s own notes to comprise the chapter titles), supervised the creation of the endpaper maps (executed by William Meek), and chose the individual etchings for reproduction. Passionate fellow!
As for the book itself, McPharlin chose Granjon as his primary font, with the notes in Granjon Italic. Chapter numbers are in Bodoni. Dr. F.W. Robinson translated Piransei’s titles and captions for the illustrations. The etchings were reproduced by the Photogravure and Color Company of New York. The chapter initials were reproduced from the Nonesuch Press edition of Don Quixote. The Quinn & Boden Company printed and bound this edition, and the paper was supplied by the Chillicothe Paper Company. Macy notes that “three-quarters of a million sheets were required — some 275,000 pounds of paper — an entire trainload!” The spine’s Ionic columns were designed by Clarence P. Hornung. And that’s not even mentioning the text’s intro writers! Macy commented that this was, at the time, “the most herculean labor of our career.” Luckily, the effort paid off in an amazing collection of books!
Title Page – This may very well be one of the more diversified releases of the George Macy Company in terms of writing, as well. Three separate introductory texts precede Gibbon’s: the initial intro from editor J.B. Bury (who also indexed the book), a “Letter to the Reader” from Philip Guedalla, and a “Note on Piranesi” supplied by McPharlin (who sadly is uncredited on the title page).
Examples of the Illustrations by Piranesi (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – Gibbon’s work has intrigued me on an intellectual level for some time, so I knew I wanted at minimum the Heritage edition to read someday. This set, which is mostly in good shape save some taxing to the spine (given the mammoth size of each tome, I’m not surprised), came to me through my 50 book purchase from the Oakhurst Library. The LEC set is nice, too, but I think in some ways I prefer the Heritage run. However, I wouldn’t turn down the LEC if I found it at a steal of a price!
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
Updated 3/25/2015 by JF
November 26, 2014 Comments Off
The Travels of Marco Polo (1934)
Sandglass Number 10N (missing from my book, but see notes below)
Artwork: Illustrations by Nikolai Fyodorovitch Lapshin
Introduced, Revised and Edited by Manuel Komroff, translated by William Marsden
Reprint of LEC #56, 5th Series, V. 8, in 1934 in 2 volumes.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – It’s been a little while since I gushed openly about a Heritage edition. Typically, the Limited Editions Club is where the truly stellar and remarkable books come from, with the Heritage re-releases, while still quite nice and attractive, are usually not of the same pedigree as their LEC cousins. Here, however, I will argue that this early Heritage printing of Marco Polo’s Travels is indeed the grander of the two printing houses. I LOVE the exquisite and appropriate binding; a luscious blending of purple and orange colors on what feels like rice paper (I lack a Sandglass, so I’m making generalizations). The bold choice of an orange spine with red text further makes this a stand-out. The LEC edition, in contrast, is covered in black cloth with a rather simple, elegant design that lacks the dynamism of this version.
Anyway, this amazing little book has some story to go behind it. You see, this is the winner of the very first Limited Editions Club illustration contest! Macy, Carl Purington Rollins and Frederic Warde served as judges, and after reviewing over 400 individual entries for 30 different titles requested by members, Nikolai Fyodorovitch Lapshin walked away with the $2500 prize and the right to have his brushed illustrations grace the Club’s edition of Marco Polo. This was the only time Polo’s journals were committed to print by the George Macy Company, and Lapshin only reappeared in the Macy canon to illustrate one of the many LEC Shakespeare titles, Titus Andronicus. Lapshin was a professor in graphic arts for Stalin University, and while he had never illustrated for books before, Macy felt he did a smashing job with his debut. He and the other judges felt that his work felt like it belonged to a book, and that it belonged to Polo’s remarkable travels. I happen to agree, in case my initial paragraph was not clear in how much I adore this book.
Design Notes – The Sandglass for this edition was not part of my good fortune of finding this gem, but since the initial posting of this book I’ve been graced with some information. Django6924 passed along this:
I don’t have this HP edition but perhaps you would like to include this from Michael Bussacco’s Sandglass Companion, Sandglass 10N, March 1950. The paper is from the Hamilton Paper Mill; the pages were reproduced (via photolithograpy) from copies of the original LEC, by the Duenewald Printing Corporation.
For the binding we arranged for a special making of linen, in a soft finish, to be done for us by the Western Shade Cloth Company…done in a “Chinese Orange” color….for the boards which cover the sides, we purchased a most-unusual, made-by-hand, obviously made-before-the-war, Oriental lamp-shade covering material of an unusual tensile strength and eye-filling Oriental colorings.
You are very close in surmising it is rice paper, Jerry; I’m sure it is probably mulberry paper, which feels a lot like rice paper, but is much stronger, also used to make tapa cloth. My mother had lampshades when I was a child that had very similar paper to the illustration on your site. I have a few sheets I intend to use someday to rebind one of my books.
The illustrations in the HP version have an interesting story themselves; per the Sandglass:
…Professor Lapshin’s illustrations could not be reproduced photographically from the printed reproductions.We decided to shoot the works, and had the illustrations redrawn….Luckily, Fritz Kredel entertains a great admiration for those illustrations by Professor Lapshin; and…agreed to push aside some of his own work, and to redraw the Lapshin pictures so that we would have actual drawings from which to make our reproductions.
From the samples I’ve seen in your HP, he did an excellent job. However, the illustrations in the HP seem to be monochrome, albeit in different hues for each illustration, whereas the originals are in multiple, vivid colors for each illustration. They were reproduced originally by offset lithography, and it is some of the finest use of that medium I have ever seen. Each illustration actually looks like an original watercolor, and considering how the numerous illustrations are scattered throughout, and integrated with the text, you begin to realize what an astonishing achievement it was for the time (and perhaps the reason Macy cheaped out somewhat on the binding).
I’ve included an example of the LEC’s illustrations (courtesy of parchment) in the Examples gallery below.
Title Page – Macy chose William Marsden’s translation as his edition’s base, with the revision/editing of that original performed by Manuel Komroff, who further wrote an rather lengthy introduction on Polo’s life and adventures in the Middle East and Asia.
Examples of the Illustrations by Lapshin (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I have had this book twice. The first was a lackluster Connecticut issuing I received as part of my 50 book lot a few years ago. I had seen a nicer edition than that, so I sold it off in the hopes of stumbling upon these earlier, quite beautiful editions. My patience was rewarded earlier this year at Half Price Books, where this amazing edition sat among its shelves for $5. And I was all over it. The LEC illustrations are pretty astounding, but I think I prefer the monochrome ones a bit more (and of course, the binding!), so I’m in no hurry to replace this.
Sandglass currently unavailable.
Updated 12/17/2014 by JF
November 14, 2014 Comments Off
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1951)
Sandglass Number VI:16
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Translated by John Ormsby, Introduced by Irwin Edman
Reprint of LEC #209, 20th Series, V. 1, in 1951 in 2 volumes.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – The Spanish classic to end all of their classics, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote, is today’s subject. The Limited Editions Club seemingly liked this work more than many others, as this is the second time the Club dipped into that well. The first, LEC exclusive issuing came out early on in the LEC lifespan, 1933. This edition was illustrated by Enric-Cristobal Ricart, and was distributed in two volumes. In 1945, long time George Macy Comapny alum Edy Legrand (see The Nibelungenlied for his complete Macy bibliography) expressed his interest in illustrating a second Don Quixote to Macy. Macy relates in the Sandglass that Legrand, although a Frenchman of birth, had adopted Spain as his second nationality, and wished to challenge himself at the proposition of rendering the greatest Spanish literary work. After reviewing some early sketches, Macy agreed, and Legrand went to work, creating 200 individual illustrations as a first draft; his final submission was 48 full page pen/dry brush drawings, five years later. The LEC published their edition in 2 volumes in 1951, which featured colored versions of the art seen here. Cervantes did not receive any other LEC or Heritage offerings.
The year is unstated here, but GMD member featherwate passed along this info about its publication:
Jerry, it was the selection for November 1951, coming between The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche illustrated by Edmund Dulac and Gray’s Elegy (Agnes Miller Parker). In fact, illustrator-wise this was one heckuva series (Series 16 June 1951 to May 1952). As well as Dulac and AMP it included among others Fritz Eichenberg (Crime & Punishment and the Olivier Henry V*), Hugo Steiner-Prag (Tales of Hoffman), Valenti Angelo (Sonnets from the Portuguese) and Edward A. Wilson (Jekyll and Hyde) – quite an array!
As for George Macy saying he read the Rabelais 25 years before, I guess he was just rounding up to a neat figure. As he does in the Quixote Sandglass where he refers to it as a book of “nearly eight hundred pages”. I think it’s actually 682!
Never mind the length – it’s the quality that matters!
Design Notes – The exact designer of this edition is not stated in the Sandglass. The LEC Monthly Letter for this edition, however, illuminates the likely designer to be Victor Oliva, printer of the original 1933 LEC edition of Quixote. Why do I posit that? Well, Macy says that this book features the “self-same text” from the 1933 edition. Spain was apparently not an option for this edition, which is a bit of a shame (the 1933 edition was, FYI), but Macy felt Mexico was a solid alternative. The text selection was Bodoni, decorated with custom initials. This was originally set and printed at the Imprenta Nuevo Mundo for the LEC issuing, and the Heritage copyright page states that it was done there as well. Legrand’s artwork was reproduced by Paris’ Georges Duval, who then sent the prints to the Meriden Gravure Company for the Heritage run. The binding is also an international affair — bright yellow cloth from England, marbled papers for the boards from France. The bindery is absent here, alas, but the LEC was done by the standards at Russell-Rutter; it’s safe to suppose they had their hands in this edition, too.
Slipcase – The paper for this slipcase from Italy.
Title Page – Irwin Edman wrote up a short introduction, with John Ormsby serving as both translator and preface writer. He did his translation in 1885, but the Club felt his was the most scholarly choice for their readers. There’s quite a bit of talk about Samuel Putnam in the Sandglass, whose translation of Quixote was just released (and its publishers urged Macy to consider it for his second LEC edition!), but the ultimate decision was to pass on it due to an earlier transaction with Putnam. In 1928, Macy acquired a three volume work of Rabelais that Putnam translated, and found that the work did not hold up a decade later. Thus, the decision to go with Ormsby. Victor Oliva contributed additional notes.
Examples of the Illustrations by Legrand (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I’ve spent YEARS looking for a good copy of Quixote. I’ve not had the greatest luck, as the two copies I saw before this one were in horrendous condition and curiously overpriced. Luckily, I came across this one last year in Dublin, CA at Half Price Books, which was complete and in very good condition save a prior owner’s nom de plume on the front endpaper. The price was right at about $10, too, so I snagged it and am happy to finally have my own copy! I’ll have to read it some day!
* = featherwate made a slight error here; Fritz Kredel was the illustrator of Henry V, not Fritz Eichenberg. It happens!
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
November 7, 2014 Comments Off
The Chronicle of the Cid, translated by Robert Southey (1958)
Sandglass Number VI:23
Artwork: Illustrations by René Ben Sussan
Introduced by V.S. Pritchett
Reprint of LEC #289, 26th Series, V. 10, in 1958.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – First of all, it’s nice to return to writing about these books. The last few months have been remarkably hectic, stressful and harried. While there are some things I still need to do for my future, I desperately needed an outlet to write. Sharing the beautiful titles George Macy and his family produced is a fine way to accomplish that.
Anyway, let’s focus in on The Chronicle of the Cid, our selection for today. The Cid (pronounced “Sid” in English; “Theed” in Spanish) is essentially the Spanish equivalent of King Arthur in terms of hero and myth. The Spanish legend was rendered into the English language by Robert Southey, a productive (if not exactly prodigious in terms of the modern English pantheon) poet and essayist, which he finished in 1808, some 700 years after the death of The Cid (aka Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar). This was the sole work Southey had produced by the George Macy Company and its subsequent presses.
We get to introduce René Ben Sussan to the blog readership today, a man who certainly devoted a fair amount of his artistic time to George Macy’s books. Here is a biography of the commissions Ben Sussan took on for the presses:
The School of Scandal, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1934 (LEC)
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1938 (Heritage only, part of the Heritage Dickens series)
Old Goriot, Honore de Balzac, 1948 (LEC, was part of the Heritage/Nonesuch French Romances series, and that edition came out in 1949)
Volpone, or the Fox, Ben Jonson, 1952 (LEC)
The Rivals, Richard Brinslet Sheridan, 1953 (LEC)
The Chronicle of the Cid, Robert Southey, 1958 (LEC/Heritage)
Eugenie Grandet, Honore de Balzac, 1960 (LEC/Heritage)
The Memoirs of Casanova, 1972 (LEC)
Of note is the two-for-one issue of The Rivals and The School for Scandal for the Heritage Press. One seller lists a Sandglass of VI:18, which GMD member featherwate passed along some info on:
Sandglass VI:18 is from November 1953, and says:
“a most unusual book, a book in which Sheridan’s two great comedies are printed together, the text and the illustrations being borrowed from that edition of The School for Scandal which The Limited Editions Club published in 1934, and from that edition of The Rivals which The Limited Editions Club distributed to its lucky members only last year.”
Only last year should mean 1952, but according to Bill Majure’s guide, the LEC Rivals did not come out until September 1953 – only two months before the two-in-one HP volume. Maybe it had been intended to come out in 1952, but had been delayed. 1953 was an unusual year: it saw LEC members receiving three plays (the first two of them illustrated by ben Sussan!) in the space of five months: Volpone in July, The Rivals in September and Cyrano in November. That sounds as if there had had to be some last-minute reshuffling of the LEC Twenty-third Series. If anyone has the Prospectus for that series it might provider [sp] a clue…
Ben Sussan has a rather distinctive style that, for me at least, can clash with my perceptions of artistic aesthetic. However, I feel that with The Cid his gouache drawings fit in quite nicely with the text. The color choices, linework and blending of medieval and modern sensibilities are wonderfully executed, and out of the books I’ve seen of his art, this is the pinnacle.
Design Notes – Ben Sussan also designed the book, utilizing frequent Macy designer Jan van Krimpen’s Romulus Bold as the primary font. This was set at the Enschedé, a printing house in Holland, and the Heritage edition was taken from vinylite moulds of the LEC text by New York’s Ferris Printing Company. The Warren Paper Company of Maine supplied the paper. Ben Sussan’s work was reprinted by Kellogg & Bulkeley of Connecticut, and the books were bound by the ever-present Russell-Rutter Company, who seemingly bound 90% or so of the Heritage Press catalog. The binding features Ben Sussan’s lovely Moorish pattern that sold me on this book before I even opened it.
Title Page – V.S. Pritchett was called upon to write up an introduction.
Examples of the Illustrations by Ben Sussan (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I purchased this from Bookbuyers in Monterey a few years ago on store credit, if memory serves. The distinctive binding, as I mentioned before, caught my eye. I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but the Sandglass does a splendid job of making it sound intriguing!
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
Updated 11/14/2014 by JF
June 20, 2014 Comments Off
The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning (1949)
LEC #194/18th Series V. 9 in 1949 in 2 volumes
Artwork: Engravings by Carl Schultheiss
Introduced by Edward Dowden
LEC #1388 of 1500
Click images to see larger views. The LEC edition is on top; Heritage bottom.
Front Binding – It’s time once more for a thorough LEC/Heritage comparison, and this go-around we have a book I covered long ago: The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning. That post was sparse on details due to the lack of a Sandglass (and my lack of in-depth information on Browning, Carl Schultheiss, and the design), so I’m rewriting this whole thing to provide you, my fine readers, a much better glimpse into this lovely edition. The biggest difference between the LEC and the Heritage is the volume count: the LEC opted for two books, while the Heritage slams everything into an enormous tome. The next most obvious difference is the color scheme. The LEC utilizes a lovely grayish-blue paper for its boards, offset by a luscious red leather for the spine. The Heritage…goes with salmon pink boards and a sea foam green spine. Not exactly the most pleasing of colors, I must admit. I do not know why these were chosen for the Heritage readership, but I prefer the LEC’s selection far more.
Robert Browning was one half of one of the most famous poetic couples in literary history. His wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was renowned as much if not more than her husband, and the LEC issued her Sonnets of the Portuguese one year before Mr. Browning received his first LEC, which is this particular volume. Valenti Angelo served as Mrs. Browning’s illustrator. Robert would get a second LEC twenty years later when a compendium of his poems was issued in the George Macy Company’s twilight year of 1969, with Peter Reddick providing the artwork.
Carl Schultheiss has a lovely bio of how he came to be involved with the George Macy Company in the Monthly Letter below, but I’ll briefly summarize it here. Schultheiss came to America in 1940 after establishing a name for himself in the engraving world in Germany, and entered the Club’s third competition for artwork accompanying their books. The Club was dumbfounded that Schultheiss, then world-renowned, would participate, and they immediately set out to see if the engraver would perform a commission for their readers. Schultheiss had many books he wanted to do, but nearly all of them were titles put out by the Club in past years. One, however, was not: The Ring and the Book. The Club hired Schultheiss to compose copper-plate engravings, and planned to print them by hand for their readership. 16 engravings out of 22 were selected, and thus we have this lovely book. Alas, Schultheiss never did a second work for the company.
Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks were responsible for the printing and design of this book, and as seems to be the case for them, they knocked it out of the park. The Letter feels pretty strongly about this, as well, as they heap tons of praise on the family-run press. Saul designed the binding, while Lillian tackled the page design. 16 point Garamond was chosen to be the font, which was deliberately kerned together to promote a easy flow to the eyes. Pages were printed four at a time; a monumental undertaking given the number of pages in the book and that 1500 copies (plus the few lettered editions out there) had to be made! The reasoning was that the small print runs would provide the perfect amount of ink to each letter, preventing any bleeding, smudging or other printing anomaly. John Anderson was responsible for hand-printing Schultheiss’ engravings, and he delivered. The bindery is not explicitly mentioned, but the Marks were likely the ones to handle it.
Back Binding – This ornamental piece gives the back a little more artistic flair than most of the other Macy books I own. Saul designed these.
Title Page – Edward Dowden provides the introduction. You’ll notice that the title engravings are different between the editions, and that the LEC specifies the Plantin Press’ involvement.
Colophon – Schultheiss signs this edtion, and this is #1388 of 1500 copies.
Examples of the Illustrations by Schultheiss for the LEC (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Examples of the Illustrations by Schultheiss for the Heritage (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I have some backstory on this title, as I’ve owned it three different times in three different editions. XD I was first given this book by my good friend Lois in exchange for a HP Poems of Robert Browning I bought at the anthropology club book sale (see Yates). I used to volunteer for Lois when she ran her own used book shop, and we have a very solid friendship. We still visit each other as often as time allows. Unfortunately, this first book (which formed the basis of the original post) lacked a Sandglass and slipcase, and I sold it off due to its incompleteness and somewhat beaten status. I got a second HP quite recently, in January 2014 (or so) from the Oakhurst Library collectible sale. I wanted to properly read it, and for $3 or 4, it was worth a second dip. BUT! When I went to Monterey this past May, I went to the impeccable Carpe Diem Fine Books, and they had the LEC at a reasonable price of $125. My wife Tamara was planning on buying me a LEC for my graduation present, and this was the one she picked. So yay for me!
Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
I don’t have a Sandglass to share with you for comparative purposes, unfortunately.