Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – The Travels of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1929) and The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1952)

The Travels of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1929)
LEC #3/1st Series V. 3 in 1929

Artwork: Engravings by John Held, Jr.
Introduced by Carl Van Doren
LEC #995 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – The Travels of Baron Munchausen, printed twice by the George Macy Company (with slightly different names) is a collection of outlandish tales of a fictional Baron Munchausen, who came up with some whoppers to tell his distinguished colleagues. Of course, the Baron insists that they were all true! The character was penned by Rudolph Raspe, a German librarian/scientist/author who was considered “a rogue” in his time. His Wikipedia page is quite the read, I have to say! While employed at the University of Kessel, Raspe went out on a business trip to acquire rare texts for the library’s collection of the Landgrave of Hasse-Kassel…only to be caught selling the very valuable items he was supposed to be archiving! Forced to retreat to England in disgrace, he made a meager living translating and publishing books on various topics, getting into mining (which is also fraught with illegal activities such as “salting” veins on properties he was assaying), and penning the tales set before us today among other works in geology and art. Raspe seems to have lived a life not too dissimilar from his famous fictional telltale teller! Outside of the two editions of the Tales, that would be all Macy and the LEC would issue.

The first printing of these ribald tales was the third book the Limited Editions Club published back in 1929, with engravings by John Held Jr. and an introduction by longtime friend of George Carl Van Doren (who would appear in many other books under the George Macy Company umbrella). This edition was never reprinted as a Heritage edition, but the later LEC was (which we’ll get to in a bit). But let’s get into the meat of this particular edition, as it has a bit of a history behind its creation.

Longtime devotee and friend of the blog Django6924 shared the following about this book’s creation and its controversial illustrator in Held, Jr.:

Macy was never quite pleased, it seems, with the first LEC Munchausen–principally because he believed the illustrator, John Held, Jr., did not take his job seriously. Actually, it was a bold choice to use Held, who was famous for his comical portraits of flappers and 20s jazz babies and his New Yorker magazine covers to illustrate this piece of Germanic frivolity, and Macy probably thought the chance to do something of more than ephemeral interest would spur Held to create something extraordinary. That he did not is probably true, but what is also true is that viewed today, the illustrations have a good deal of charm and pungency, and their unusual color scheme I find most interesting. Although some have not found the binding to their taste, it is one of my dozen or so favorites of all the LEC bindings–just love those big fish and the marbled paper sides.

The source for the above quote is in the Quarto below; it doesn’t seem like Macy had much kindness to share about the book in hindsight. It would be the second in a row for Macy feeling like something was off about a book’s creation (as Leaves of Grass also fell short in his mind), which would sadly permeate several of the first series in his view. It definitely feels like Macy wanted to be provocative and daring with this book and it just didn’t come together as he envisioned. Held would not return for a second commission, unsurprisingly. I don’t necessarily feel the same as my good friend on the quality of the illustrations; while the bold yellow is certainly eye catching, Held’s linoleum cuts lack the detail, personality or whimsy of many other engravers who graced the LEC after him. I do concur on the binding though; it stands out from the other first series books as very exaggerated and bold, which works for a book planned from the start to be striking.

I do have to note that Munchausen visits several foreign countries in his exaggerations, and Held leans pretty hard into racist tropes of the time to depict the indigenous characters the Baron encounters in said countries.

Design Notes: William A. Kittredge handled design duties. Per the Quarto:


Title Pages – Here’s a taste of the bold yellows that spotlight the visual flourishes of Held’s illustrations. As noted before, Van Doren turned in his first introduction of several.

Colophon – This is #995 of 1500, and was signed by Held.

Examples of Held’s engravings (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – This came from ABEBooks sometime in 2022 when I was rapidly filling the gaps in the first series, haha. This was by far the most affordable copy I was able to find, but it’s got a fair amount of problems; foxing, imprints of the Held prints on the opposite page, the spine is a mess, and the binding is faded and lacking the color that made it pop so much in 1929. I would probably tag out this copy for another if I could find one reasonably. As for the book itself, I do have to admit it’s probably my personal bottom of the pile for the first series. I don’t care much for Held’s style, and I think I’d prefer the more complete 1952 edition for reading purposes.

The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1952)
Sandglass Number IV:17
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Edited and Introduced by John Carswell, proclaimed the “Definitive” text
Reprint of LEC #221, 21st Series, V. 1 in 1952.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – New York is on the left, Connecticut right.

In 1952 the Baron’s whimsical stories were revisited by the LEC, and that particular rendition did get a Heritage edition, the one you now see before you. This is declared the “definitive” edition of Munchausen, a claim the earlier LEC did not make. It might explain the change in title from “Travels” to “Singular Adventures”. John Carswell poured through the copious lore of the good Baron, and compiled everything original author Rudolph Raspe and a few copycats composed into this edition, making this the first time all of Munchausen’s tales were fully assembled in one place.

Fritz Kredel, who is no stranger to this blog, served as the illustrator for take 2 of the Baron’s exploits. Kredel is among the high end of Macy’s contributor list, with an incredible twenty individual jobs for the Limited Editions Club over a forty one year span. That’s a book every two years, and he wasn’t slouching in illustrating for other publishers, either. Busy man! Since this is a massive undertaking, I’m just going to list them:

Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1931)
Slovenly Peter by Mark Twain (1935)
The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (1937)
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1940, Heritage original, only 530 LEC editions issued)
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (1939/1940, part of the LEC Shakespeare)
Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1942)
The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray (1942)
The Republic by Plato (1944)
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (Evergreen Tales, 1948)
The Complete Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1949)
King Henry V by William Shakespeare (1951)
The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe (1952)
The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1955)
Poems of Heinrich Heine (1957)
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain (1962)
Emma by Jane Austen (1964)
Four Plays of Christopher Marlowe (1966, with Albert Decaris)
The Book of Ballads (1967)
The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin (1971)
The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (1972)

A fairly diverse list of authors he provided the backdrops for, huh? Kredel passed away in 1973, but he certainly left his impression on the LEC, no question.

The New York edition of the Heritage reprint was designed by both Kredel and George Salter. Salter handled the text, Kredel the illustrations. Salter went with Bell Monotype for the font, and there’s a slew of information on it in the Sandglass below. Kredel’s work in here is drawings colored with water-color inks, created by using hand-cut rubber plates. The Arrow Press was responsible for the illustrations, while The Ferris Printing Company printed up the text. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter fame was the binder. The marbled paper covering the boards were specially made by Jean-Pierre Putois of Paris, with the boards themselves made of English buckram. I know nothing of the Connecticut printing.

Django6924 chips in some additional info:

The Kredel-illustrated Munchausen is a lovely book, and the technique of using hand-cut rubber plates to apply water-color inks is a technique that Macy often employed for the Heritage Press reprints of LEC books which were hand-colored with stencils. I mentioned in an earlier post somewhere that this technique provides beautiful color, and is only inferior to the hand-colored version in that it is a too-perfect application of color–no variations in color value or thickness of application. I prefer it to the half-tone process that many other publishers used for color reproduction–which can produce color variations, but at the cost of the dot-screen “noise.”


Title Page – Carswell also wrote the Introduction for the work. You can learn much about Carswell in the below Sandglass.

Page 4 – I imagine the LEC features full-color illustrations, but Kredel’s charm still radiates from these illustrations. A good fit.

Page 26

Personal Notes – I got this at Monterey’s BookBuyers, another part of the trade-in deal I got from them. It’s in very good shape, although that lovely marbled paper is not completely attached to the boards any more. I’ve read all of Raspe’s work in here, and it’s whimsical and entertaining. I’ve since traded it in, but I wouldn’t mind getting the LEC to match the earlier one!


Updated 2/14/2023 – JF


Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver by Jonathan Swift (1929/1940)

The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver by Jonathan Swift (1929)
LEC #1/1st Series V. 1 in 1929

Artwork: Ink and wash illustrations by Alexander King
Introduced by Shane Leslie, edited by Harold Williams
LEC #909 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding –Well, it took 13 years of operation for this blog to finally arrive at the impetus of the Limited Editions Club; the very first publication as issued in October of 1929, Jonathan Swift’s satire opus The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver. Before diving into the book proper, however, I feel that this is a golden opportunity to espouse on why this printing enterprise was created and its journey from 1929 to 2010 in one place, as this history has been covered in bits and pieces on the Imagery.

Born in 1900, George Macy grew up with a passion for literature. As he grew up and made some decisions about his career path, books always seemed to be directing his course. In 1926 he founded Macy-Masius, but ultimately sold that company to the Vanguard Press in 1928. He was also involved with Brown House, but this too was short lived. He had a bold idea swirling in his mind; to create a publishing house devoted to a subscription model built on a common zeal for illustrated, exquisitely designed and printed editions of iconic swathes of novels, short stories, poetry, drama, folklore, non-fiction and children’s tales. He called this newfound concept “The Limited Editions Club”, and worked with New York investors to create the foundation for which to build a publishing dynasty that would ultimately outlive him. In 1929, an announcement went out for the First Series of the Limited Editions Club, seeking 1500 bibliophiles to join its esteemed membership and to join this experiment of publishing. He went out and promoted his idea to anyone who would listen, but especially to the leading publishing houses in the country: Norman T.A. Munder of Baltimore; The Printing House of William Edwin Rudge of Mount Vernon; the Lakeside Press in Chicago; Yale University Press in New Haven; the Southworth Press of Portland, Maine; the Marchbanks Press of New York; A. Colish of New York; The Walpole Printing Office of New Rochelle; the Georgian Press at Westport; the Harbor Press of New York; the Grabhorn Press in San Francisco; and the Merrymount Press in Boston. Also high on his list was challenging the notion of what defined a “illustrator of books”. He sought out marketing artists like John Held Jr., René Clarke and C.B. Falls along with established artists such as Rudolph Ruzicka, Allen Lewis and Edward A. Wilson. He refused to let consistency outside of high quality define him or his publications, as each edition would stand on its own with its own unique flair (unless a common theme was established, which would come with later years, like the LEC Shakespeare). And he often challenged the more conservative mindset of his membership, publishing a few risky texts or risque illustrations to the chagrin of some. Some in the printing world hated him and what he was attempting to accomplish, working to dog his every business move to undermine his negotiations or poison the ears of possible partners. Macy ultimately refused to surrender his dream, however, and persevered through some incredible obstacles to maintain the Limited Editions Club up to his unfortunately early passing due to cancer in 1956.

His wife Helen continued on as the LEC director for another 12 years before handing the reins to their son Jonathan and serving a more advisory role; Jonathan however was not willing to pursue this line of work with the same dedication and attention to craft as his parents. After two or so years, the Macys sold off the Limited Editions Club to the Boise Cascade Corporation in 1970 alongside its sister publishing effort The Heritage Press. This was only a brief pit stop in its journey, as Boise Cascade offered both to Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, who subsequently sold it to the Cardevon Press. Cardevon was in need of some capital to mount their publishing exploits with the LEC, and was not as interested in the Heritage Press or its membership, so that (along with the legacy content of the Limited Editions Club) was sold to the Danbury Mint (now MBI, Inc.) to become the foundation of the Easton Press and its 100 Greatest Books of All Time efforts. Cardevon increased the membership from 1500 to 2000 and attempted to find the successes of the Macy family’s run, but were never able to maintain the quality or devotion of the Club’s glory days. Cardevon decided to give it up in 1978, selling the LEC one last time to Wall Street investment banker Sidney Shiff.

Shiff slowly reinvented the Limited Editions Club over the 1980s into a completely different beast. It shed the devotion to literary classics prior to the 1900s for more contemporary authors and swapped in illustrators who were enormous in the art world at large. The Club would reduce its membership from 2000 down to 300 by its conclusion, with it dipping into smaller numbers periodically in the 2000s. However, the cost to be a part of this went up exceptionally (some books were sold in the thousands towards the end) as the publication count went down from 12 a year in 1980 to sometimes none at all. Shiff managed to command the LEC in this Livres d’Artiste fashion to its exclusive membership for 30 years, longer than its founder George Macy’s 27! Shiff passed away in 2010, and his widow Jeanne Shiff acts as its current Director, but has no desire to publish any further books under the LEC banner. She continues to sell the remaining stock from her late husband’s tenure online.

With that very truncated history behind us (and if you want a fuller, richer and more exhaustive version, you can check out Carol Grossman’s History of the Limited Editions Club published by Oak Knoll Books!), let’s examine this special book that launched the LEC all the way back in October of 1929.

Jonathan Swift, one of the pioneers of satire in English, wrote Gulliver’s Travels back in 1726 under the pseudonym of its titular character, Lemuel Gulliver. Born in 1667, Swift was 59 when penning this classic “traveler’s journal” of the supernatural and bizarre, and features Gulliver’s exploits in the (mostly) made up areas/kingdoms of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, …er, Japan, and the Land of the Houyhnhnms. Clearly one of those is NOT fictional, haha. Gulliver experiences wild adventures in each, such as being a giant to the tiny Lilliputs or minuscule in contrast to the citizens of Brobdingnag, and these various journeys explode in the ridiculous and comical. Gulliver’s stories have become commonplace in adaptation, and some of its elements have led to the inspiration of other contemporary cultural zeitgeists, such as the floating isle of Laputa becoming central to the Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli’s important film Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa (known as Castle in the Sky in English), which has in turn led to its imagery being utilized in many animation and video game projects to follow. While Swift wouldn’t see another of his works published by the LEC or Heritage Press, THIS particular one was reprinted twice more. The first two voyages of Lilliput and Brobdingnag were given a very unique edition designed by Bruce Rogers in 1950 with a very small volume for Lilliput and a very large one for Brobdingnag; an extremely clever actualization of Gulliver’s tribulations in those countries. The Heritage Press also created their own edition of Gulliver in 1940, featuring the talents of woodcutter extraordinaire Fritz Eichenberg (which we’ll get to momentarily in this post).

The very first artist for the Limited Editions Club was Alexander King, whose work we’ve seen once before on the blog for the first edition of The Brothers Karamazov. As Macy describes him below, he was a master of capturing “ugliness” with his ink and brush illustrations, and delivers quite an uproarious collection of fascinating visuals to accompany Swift’s imaginative text. He aimed to make the first “adult” illustrated edition of Gulliver, and he succeeded. His career with the LEC is detailed in the aforementioned Brothers.

Design Notes: George himself acted as designer, establishing himself right off the bat as capable as the fellow printers and designers he adored and collaborated with on the First Series. Per the Quarto:


Title Page – Harold Williams acted as editor (uncredited here), with Shane Leslie providing an introduction. Williams followed the expected “Ford” revision with his handling of Swift’s text. Macy valued them both as true “Swiftians”.

Colophon – This is #909 of 1500, and was signed by King.

Examples of King’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I got this from Powell’s in 2022 to fill the last slot of my First Series, and while it is missing the slipcase it arrived in very good condition. Its biggest issue is some aged pages and some rubbed leather on the spine, but overall I’m happy to have it in my collection.

The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver by Jonathan Swift (1940)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: Wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Introduced by John Hayward. Edited by George Faulkner.
Heritage Press exclusive.

Front Binding – For the Heritage exclusive take on Gulliver, Fritz Eichenberg took the artistic baton and created incredible woodcut engravings that capture Swift’s satire elegantly. While King was aiming to produce the “adult” version of Gulliver with his take, Eichenberg chose a less rowdy and ribald path. 28 total engravings are featured, and the cover utilizes a fantastic compass rendition that I like quite a bit. This is a later printing of the book (the red cloth on the binding gives that away), but it is still a lovely edition. The text is a little different than the LEC as well, as it foregoes the more common and expected Charles Ford emendations that dominated Swift’s iconic work at the time (and fueled the above LEC’s publication under Harold Williams) for George Faulkner, who was Swift’s Irish publisher in 1735 and worked closely with the author on the proofing of his collected works, which restored his original intent.

Design Notes: Richard Ellis handled the book design duties; a task he tackled multiple times for the Heritage Press (and the LEC as well). The font is 12 point Caledonia, which W.A. Dwiggins created. Per the Sandglass for the first edition, the paper originates from the Worthy Paper Company and is unique (in its original printing at least) in its colored threads to give it an antique look. Mine comes later and is more traditional with its paper. A coarse natural linen was used for the first edition; subsequent editions went for the red dye my copy features.

Spine and Slipcase

Title Page – John Hayward, who is also uncredited on the title page (an odd commonality of these two books), served as the Nonesuch Press’ preparer for their Swift. Given the closeness of the Heritage and Nonesuch Presses as its owner, Francis Meynell, gave Macy the ownership of the Press during the late 30s through the 40s, it’s little surprise to see this here.

Examples of Eichenberg’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I bought this locally from a used book shop near where I work. I would love to upgrade to the proper first edition, but I’ll be patient and hold on to this until I find one.

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – Penguin Island by Anatole France (1938/1947)

Penguin Island by Anatole France (1938)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations in water-colors by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated by A.W. Evans
Heritage Press Exclusive

Click images for a larger view.

Binding and Spine – Anatole France received quite a smattering of attention from the George Macy Company, way more than he receives today (a shame!). Penguin Island was the one work of France’s that Macy produced twice. I discuss France’s LEC and Heritage editions in my earlier Revolt of the Angels post.

Thanks to Django6924, I am able to share with you the original Heritage exclusive that predates the later LEC release. In 1938 Macy recruited Sylvain Sauvage [no stranger to the books of France, as he did two LEC’s of his before this one, At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque (1933) and The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1937)] to produce this lovely edition of what is probably France’s best known work. Sauvage has popped up here before for his amazing work on Zadig and more, and I’m happy to have him make another appearance. I covered his career in the aforementioned post, so we’ll just jump into this book’s specifics. Early Heritage books tended to have production details, and this one is such a book, so I’ll plop that down for some minimal design details:

Since I initially wrote this post, fellow George Macy Devotee featherwate submitted to me information from Michael Bussacco’s book on the Heritage Press, which I will paste below:

I don’t have a Sandglass with my copy of the HP Penguin Island, but here are some of the technical details taken from Bussacco’s Sandglass Companion:

Type: Granjon was chosen for being both dignified and unobtrusive – (Sandglass: “dignity is required in the setting of a satiric novel”) – and its size is 14 pt. The paper, made by the Worthy Paper Company, resembles the paper used for the HP Romeo and Juliet and is guaranteed to last for at least two centuries!
Illustrations: Ten full-page water-colour pictures, reproduced to the exact size of Sauvage’s original paintings by Ralph M. Duenewald of New York, who was also responsible for printing Sauvage’s illustrations for the LEC Cyrano and Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. BTW, “The navigation of Saint Mael” is on page 34, and “Then she went away…” on page 60.
One of the most interesting features of the book is its binding. First the bad news: it’s not leather. In the words of the Sandglass, the sheets are encased in “heavy boards over which the binder has worked a material from the factories of E.I Du Pont de Nemours Company. It is a material of which the surface is treated with pyroxolin. It will last longer than most book cloths, far longer than most cheap leathers, not quite so long as expensive leathers that are used in the binding of a hundred dollar books.
The material is dyed black. Its surface is treated with leather graining. This is just rank imitation. We would much prefer to use the original goatskin which this graining imitates!”. (Would have been too expensive.)
Not mentioned in the Sandglass is the origin of pyroxolin (or more properly, I think, pyroxylin, though there was a New Zealand racehorse called Pyroxolin in the 1890s). It has been around since 1868, when Albany printer and inventor John Wesley Hyatt gave the name to a blend of nitrocellulose and the plasticiser camphor (sap from the laurel tree) which produced a durable, colourful, and mouldable thermoplastic. It is still used today by specialist bookbinders and conservators. Riley, Dunn & Wilson, for example, make solander boxes with a covering of pyroxolin[sic]-impregnated light-fast, moisture- and vermin-resistant library buckram. As a non-scientist I find it slightly worrying that pyroxylin appears to be essentially the same thing as gun-cotton and the notoriously inflammable nitrate base used for early film stock. Not much point in having a 200 year guarantee for the paper if the binding is liable to sudden spontaneous combustion! Another reason to keep one’s books out of direct sunlight…

So, the book is bound in a material similar to gun cotton? That’s fascinating…and scary! Definitely keep it out of the sun or away from any other heat source! Anyway, the book’s front binding has a lovely embossing:

That’s all I can give you for now, but I’ll refresh this post when I find out more.

Title Page – A.W. Evans was the translator for Penguin Island, and there is no introduction whatsoever. Sauvage’s art is a great fit from what I can tell.

Chapter IV – As I do not own this, I do not know the specific page numbers. I’ll update this once I know. This is incredible art, that it is.

Example Illustration – More mastery. I still need this.

Extra special thanks to Django6924 for the images and featherwate for the info from Bussacco!

Penguin Island by Anatole France (1947)
LEC #181/17th Series V. 7 in 1947
Artwork: Drawings by Malcolm Cameron
Translated by A.W. Evans, Introduced by Carl Van Doren
LEC #1288 of 1950. Heritage Press Reprint available.

Front Binding – For the second issuing of France’s seminal work, the Limited Editions Club issued their own take on Penguin Island. This was one of the winning entries for the LEC’s “Third Competition in Book Illustration”, which the Sandglass below gets into the minor details of on Page 2 (Macy says he doesn’t want to bore people with it yet again, and then explains it all anyway). Malcolm Cameron’s drawings won over the judges and netted him one of the five first prizes, and thus the LEC had its own Penguin Island to crow about. Cameron would do one other book for the George Macy Company, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, which was released in The Evergreen Tales in 1952 as the final set (alas, the one I’m still missing). Cameron was actually an architect by trade, dabbling with his artwork as a side project. Upon winning, he gave up his old career (the Sandglass wondered if his netting the prize had anything to do with it) and committed to being an illustrator full time. Blog commenter Tom Lessup dug up some personal info on Cameron back on the original post:

Malcolm Cameron, printmaker, illustrator and architect
Born in Redlands, CA on Sept. 2, 1902, Attended the California Institute of Technology and Cornell University. He apprenticed in an architectural office in NYC in 1927-28 and then moved to Los Angeles. In 1945 he settled in Bonsall, CA and lived there until moving to Shaw Island, WA in 1962. He died there in March 8, 1975. Illustrated books such as “Penguin Island” by Anatole France and “Notre Dame de Paris” by Victor Hugo.
Exhibitions: Oakland Art Gallery, 1939; GGIE*, 1940. In: Library of Congress.
Source: Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940″
*Golden Gate International Exposition
Sometimes confused with Australian painter/printmaker of the same name, born 1934

Massive thanks for elaborating on Mr. Cameron’s career for us, Mr. Lessup. :)

Design Notes: Joseph Blumenthal was the designer of this edition, who also had personally designed the font chosen for the work, Emerson (named after his printing of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essay on Nature). Designer buffs will want to peruse the Sandglass below, as it goes into Mr. Blumenthal’s career in very extensive depth. As for the Quarto:



Title Page – A.W. Evans’ translation made the leap from the Sauvage edition. Carl Van Doren supplies this printing with an Introduction. A lovely title page, this one. I like it a little more than the Sauvage edition.

Colophon – This is #1023 of 1500, and was signed by Cameron.

Examples of Cameron’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – Devotee NYCFAddict sold this one to me as a larger lot, and I’m happy to have it along with the other excellent Anatole France LECs! Just need Crainquebille now!

Penguin Island by Anatole France (1947)
Sandglass Number 15K
Artwork: Drawings by Malcolm Cameron
Translated by A.W. Evans, Introduced by Carl Van Doren
Reprint of LEC #181, 17th Series, V. 7 in 1947.

Front Binding – The Heritage edition has its own unique binding, loses the light blue flourishes in the text, but is otherwise fairly close to the LEC original. France’s text and Cameron’s drawings were reproduced through electroplates and photographs, respectively. The Photogravure and Color Company handled Cameron’s side of the equation. Blumenthal was the designer of this edition, as well. The Stratford Press handled the printing of the text. The bindery is suspiciously absent, but it was likely Russell and Rutter as was the norm at this stage of the Club’s history.


Title Page – More or less the same as the LEC, but without the blue flourish.

Book 1: The Beginnings

Page 30

Personal Notes – I got this at Bookbuyers in Monterey as part of a trade-in. Now that I have the LEC, I traded it in as well. I’d like to own Sauvage’s edition someday, which would give me three versions of this work (I also have an early Dodd, Mead edition with Frank C. Pape’s artwork, and that is also exquisite!).


Updated on 10/9/22 by JF

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: The Book of Ruth (1947)

The Book of Ruth (1947)
LEC #184/17th Series, V. 11 in 1947
Artwork: Illustrations by Arthur Szyk
Translation Prepared at Cambridge in 1611 for King James I, Introduced by Mary Ellen Chase
LEC #278 of 1500. Heritage Press reprint, see lower half of this post.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – On occasion George Macy branched the Limited Editions Club’s limitation number beyond the typical 1500. Of course, the inverse also happened during the tight rationing of paper and dipping membership during World War II, but the increased limitation was a deliberate choice of the Club’s to really promote specific editions that Macy was particularly excited about. Examples of this include the LEC Shakespeare, the Evergreen Tales, The Wind in the Willows, and the two “Books” from the King James Bible, one of which is spotlighted here, The Book of Ruth.

This was a special pair of books that share several common elements: both designed by George Macy himself, both featuring an introduction by prominent New England educator, author and Bible scholar Mary Ellen Chase, and both starring the visual splendors of artist Arthur Szyk. 1946 marked a memorable debut from the talented Szyk, as The Book of Job, the first volume of the duo, came out in 1946 alongside the Heritage exclusive The Rubaiyat and one of two spotlights the Heritage Club issued of illustrators, Ink and Blood. This was a limited edition of 1000 copies, and is among the more coveted Heritage exclusives out there. The Canterbury Tales followed later in 1946, with the second in the duo, The Book of Ruth on its heels in the same series, coming out in 1947. He contributed to the first set of Evergreen Tales, illustrating “The Story of Joseph and His Brothers”, which came out 1949, and the final commission was an exquisite rendering of The Arabian Nights Entertainments in 1954. This was issued posthumously as he passed away in 1951. Szyk specialized in miniature paintings, calligraphy and illumination, and put these talents on display in all of his contributions to the George Macy Company. Historicana has a great site on his legacy if you’d like to learn more about his craft and technique.

Design Notes – As noted, George Macy stepped into the designer shoes for this edition, and the Quarto details the following:

One item of note: both Ruth and Job are bound in sheepskin leather, and it is a material that degrades more rapidly than other leathers. Thus, it has been difficult to come across these books in fine or near fine condition because of the leather. Mine I would say are very good +; as you can see above and below on the spine, there’s some pieces that have flaked off.



Title Page –  The Book of Ruth’s translation comes straight from the King James Bible, and Mary Ellen Chase provides the preface to the work.

Colophon – This is #1622 of 1950, and was signed by Szyk.

Page 12 – 13 – Words really can’t express Szyk’s talent, so I’ll just let these marvels vouch for themselves.

Page 42

Personal Notes – I wrote the below post (well, I deleted a lot of it as it wasn’t really informative) in 2011, and have wanted these books ever since, haha. Szyk’s LECs have eluded me until 2020, when I finally got the first set of Evergreen Tales, but those were all unsigned. However, devotee NYCFAddict gave me an opportunity and a half with several acquisitions, with these standing tall among the many books he sold me. I love them so much! And got a pretty great deal on them too. Expect The Book of Job exactly one year from now!

The Book of Ruth (1947)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Arthur Szyk
Translation Prepared at Cambridge in 1611 for King James I,
Introduced by Mary Ellen Chase
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #184/17th Series, V. 11 in 1947

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – While this is not as lavish a treatment as the LEC original is, I do have to say that the Heritage makes an admirable attempt at replicating the luxurious design with a lower budget. It even redoes the Szyk linework remarkably well on the cloth binding. This is a library copy I no longer have easy access to, so I can’t elaborate on its design particulars.

Title Page –  The reproductions of Szyk’s illustrations is also well handled. They aren’t quite as crisp or colorful, but they certainly are excellent.

Page 13

Page 42

Personal Notes – I checked this out from my old hometown library a decade ago! I’ve been wanting this ever since, haha. Luckily I have the LEC now!

Updated 9/13/21 ~ JF

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1933/1950)

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1933)
LEC #48, 4th Series, V. 12
Artwork: Illustrations by Enric-Cristobal Ricart
Translated and introduced by John Ormsby
LEC did a second edition of this work in 1950; see below for this edition.
#1384 of 1500

Click images for larger views.


The Spanish classic to end all of their classics, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote, is today’s subject once again now that I have ALL of the variants. The original post focused on the second LEC and its Heritage reprint, but I want to add in the 1933 exclusive for comparative purposes.

The Limited Editions Club seemingly liked this work more than others, as this is the first time the Club dipped into that well with this 1933 LEC exclusive that featured the illustration talents of Enric-Cristobal Ricart, and was distributed in two volumes. As you’ll see below, Edy Legrand stepped into the artist role in 1950 for a second treatment. Cervantes is best known for this mighty novel, one of the earliest and most famous in all of literature. Don Quixote’s misadventures are legendary and even coined the term “quixotic”, an adjective meaning “exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical.” Which is pretty much what the good Don is tragically all about. The LEC did not touch his other work, but two incredible productions of his iconic fiction is certainly a testament to its quality.

This edition is all about Spain, which is fitting given its author’s Spanish roots. It was designed, printed and illustrated in Spain on Spanish paper; only the binding was handled in the United States. The art for this edition was by wood engraver Enric-Cristobal Ricart, a well regarded artist in his home country. Ricart would make one more stop in the annals of the George Macy Company with his contribution to the LEC Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra a few years later. He is also known as Enric Cristòfol Ricart, which seems the more popular search term online. He passed away in 1960.

Design Notes: From the Quarto-Millenary:

quixote 33






As noted, John Ormsby serves as the translator and also introduces this edition.


Colophon – This is #1384 of 1500 with Ricart’s signature.

Examples of the Illustrations by Ricart (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – Not too long after acquiring the later LEC, I was offered the opportunity to purchase the original edition from a Devotee, NYCFAddict (who I got quite the haul from last year!). This is a really nice copy; many of the sheets to protect the pages from the illustrations bleeding are still inside!

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1950)
LEC #209, 20th Series, V. 1
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Translated by John Ormsby, Introduced by Irwin Edman
Heritage Press reprinted this in 1951; see below for this edition.
#893 of 1500

Click images for larger views.

In 1945, long time George Macy Company 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 for the Heritage edition 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, submitted five years later. This would be the last time Cervantes would be printed by the LEC or Heritage Press.

Legrand’s drawings feature color in the LEC edition; as you’ll see below, the Heritage went grayscale with their reproductions.

Design Notes: From the Quarto-Millenary:

A curio: Macy says that this edition of Quixote features the “self-same text” from the 1933 publication, which is true — translator John Ormsby served as the translator for both, although Ormsby introduced the original printing, which he does not perform here (a preface is included to his translation here). However, Harry Block did reinvent the typography and formatting, so it is not a mirror image of the earlier 1933 book…not to mention the switch from Ricart to Legrand on the illustration front.

Cervantes’ native Spain was apparently not an option for this edition (the 1933 edition was at Oliva de Vilanova in Barcelona), which is a bit of a shame, but Macy felt Mexico was a solid enough alternative.  The Heritage had the prints sent to the Meriden Gravure Company.



As noted, Ormsby returned as the translator for the text, but a new introduction was written by Irwin Edman for this edition. Legrand’s striking portrait of its protagonist greets the reader upon opening. Ormsby 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 continue with Ormsby.

Colophon – This is #893 of 1500. Legrand’s signature is notably absent here — there was a run of books where he was unable to provide his signature. This may have been due to his choice to live in Morocco for an extended period during the 1940s and 50s, likely to escape the chaos of Europe in the midst of war. Twenty Years After may be the first LEC he did actually sign, which was issued in 1958.

Examples of the Illustrations by Legrand (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I’d spent YEARS looking for a good copy of Quixote. The Heritage below I picked up about five years ago, but the LEC recently came into my possession courtesy of my book benefactor sharing it with me to document here and give a good home. I’m very happy to have this one in my collection!

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.


Front Binding – Now for the Heritage edition, which is very nicely presented as well.

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), 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!

Of course, the nearly eight hundred pages likely refers to the LEC page count; the reduction to a single volume likely trimmed a fair amount of extra pages.

Design Notes – As noted above, 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 for its printing. 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 is from Italy.


Title Page – Pretty close to the LEC edition!

Examples of the Illustrations by Legrand (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – Before this copy came into my life, I’d not had the greatest luck acquiring this book. The two copies I saw before this one were in horrendous condition and curiously overpriced. Luckily, I came across this one around 2013 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. Of course, with the LEC now in my possession, I will be passing this along.

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

Updated 7/17/2021 ~ JF