Heritage Press – The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1943)

October 31, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1943)

The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1944)
Sandglass Number II:16
Artwork: Lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Prologue by Steiner-Prag, translated by “various hands”
Reprint of LEC #146, 14th Series, V. 6 in 1943.

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – Happy Halloween! And it’s a new post from me at last. South Wind is still forthcoming, but in the meantime, let’s feature the German master of horror, Herr Hoffmann. This is a bit of a curio from the Club; E.T.A. Hoffmann does not have the “classic” status of some of his contemporaries here in America, although according to Macy he was definitely well-regarded in his native Germany and even noted that a reader of Hoffmann would be consider having “a high I.Q.” This was the sole work from Hoffmann printed for the LEC and the Heritage Press.

Hugo Steiner-Prag is not unfamiliar to this blog, unlike the author of this work; Herr Steiner-Prag has appeared multiple times. In fact, I believe that beyond the LEC Measure for Measure, we have now documented all of his work for the George Macy Company with this post. His short but storied run is documented on Tartuffe (which, after taking a quick look at that post, reminds me how much I need to clean up all those old posts). He is a great fit for the tense texts of Hoffmann, as you will see. Alas, this was his final work for either club, as he passed away during the production of the LEC edition of this work shortly after submitting his contribution.

Design Notes – The designer is not mentioned in the Sandglass, but Django6924 alerted me that the LEC colophon mentions that Steiner-Prag was the designer. Steiner-Prag was “obsessed” with Hoffmann according to Django, and I think that his artwork, design work and prologue serve as a declaration of that obsession. The font chosen was Waverly, with Walbaum utilized for the headlines. Westcott and Thomson composed the type, and Ferris Printing Company handling the printing. George Miller printed the lithographs. The paper is from Chillicothe Paper Company specially made for this edition (with a comment about its quality despite being in the middle of World War II). Russell-Rutter handled the bindery duties. Steiner-Prag composed the designs for the cover, which Macy observes may have been his final piece of art before his death. The cloth is a rough, blue-gray Dutch linen.




Title Page – Steiner-Prag has the notable distinction of serving not only as illustrator, but as the introduction writer as well. This is a little unusual; I can’t think of another instance I’ve come across this in Macy’s tenure, as well as the later owners of the Clubs. It’s also unusual in that Steiner-Prag decided to write his own tale instead of a literary essay; Django explains it as “the record of a ghostly encounter Steiner-Prag had with Hoffman. Strange, and much in the nature of one of Hoffman’s own tales.” So, this is certainly a unique volume in the annals of the LEC/Heritage Press canon.

Examples of the lithographs by Steiner-Prag (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal History – I picked this up from Second Time Around Used Books in Merced, CA while I still worked there. Since I left, there’s been an increase in Heritage titles there. Haven’t gotten around to reading the stories yet, but I am certainly intrigued.

Sandglass forthcoming.

Updated 11/1/2015 JF

Heritage Press – The Essays of Francis Bacon (1944/1951)

July 10, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Essays of Francis Bacon (1944/1951)

The Essays of Francis Bacon (1944)
Sandglass Number V:15 (not the exact Sandglass for this book, the Sandglass is from 1951)
Artwork: Decorations by Bruce Rogers
Introduced by Christopher Morley, with a brief note by A.S.W. Rosenbach
Reprint of LEC #157, 15th Series, V. 5 in 1944.

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – Today brings the sole offering from the noted scholar and essayist Francis Bacon to the George Macy Company, a superb printing of the Essays (or Effayes, as the title page and spine depict it in the language of Bacon’s day). The LEC and Heritage editions are similar in terms of appearance, although the LEC uses far more exquisite materials. For a bevy of life details on Bacon, see the newly appended Sandglass below, courtesy of Django6924.

Bruce Rogers was the designer of the LEC edition, and that design pretty much carried right over to the Heritage. Rogers chose to maintain most of the original spelling and letter differences of Bacon’s original writings here, and he provided some rather nice decorations for the openings of each essay, for the title page, and the binding. Rogers has once before been spotlighted here, with The Federalist Papers. He was 81 when this Sandglass was printed (74 when the LEC was issued), and passed away in 1957.

Design notes: Janson is the font of choice; Rogers decided to redraw the majority of the letters, which were specially cut for the LEC edition by the Monotype Corporation. Decorations are in Garamond. The first letter of each essay was designed by Rogers and serve as the illustrations. Each page was meticulously formatted by Rogers to his exact standards. The Heritage pages were printed via lithography by the Duenewald Printing Corporation, and Russell-Rutter handled the binding. Rogers drew the cover illustration, which was printed with gold leaf paper. The design was taken from one of Queen Elizabeth I’s tapestries from her throne room, which is quite apropos. The boar was Bacon’s, taken from his crest. The spine is a greenish linen.






Title Page – A rather dynamic title page, with Rogers’ design flourish in full force. Christopher Morley supplies an introduction, which is not noted here, but it is on the pre-title page. Morley concedes a bit of his space to A.S.W. Rosenbach for a postscript.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this at Bookbuyers in Monterey, if my memory is not mistaken. I was quite taken by the lovely cover, and would like to give the essays a shot in the future.

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

Hertiage Press – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)

June 25, 2015 Comments Off on Hertiage Press – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)
Sandglass Number 7 GRS
Artwork: Drawings by Fritz Eichenberg and Paintings by Vassily Verestchagin
Introduced, Translated and with Notes by Louise and Alymer Maude
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own edition of War and Peace in 1938. This edition borrows the revised translation done by the Maudes.

Click images for larger views.


Front Bindings – Hello again, everyone! It’s nice to be back. And this is my first post in my new home. Funny how this doesn’t feel any different, and yet…this is the first time I’ve not lived in my home town. So many other parts of my life are so radically different from before, but it’s comforting to know that writing here is a little nostalgic in its own strange way…Anyway, you’re not here necessarily to read about my life changes. Let’s get to brass tacks and discuss a monstrous two volume set that stars two illustrators: the Heritage War and Peace.

War and Peace is arguably the great Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus; the George Macy Company agreed with this sentiment, publishing two versions of the classic, one for each publishing house (which was also done with Anna Karenina, but gave that particular book two LEC editions instead). The LEC received a six volume set in 1938, decorated by the esteemed Barnett Freedman (who also did the art for Anna Karenina). The Heritage Press, meanwhile, received this two volume set later in 1943, starring another prominent illustrator of Russian texts, Fritz Eichenberg. Eichenberg wasn’t alone on this edition, however; Macy licensed the paintings of Russian painter Vassily Verestchagin, who was at the time unpublished in the United States, to decorate the battle-filled second half of the book. Eichenberg is primarily reserved for the first volume. Before you get super excited, though, Eichenberg left his woodcutting tools out of the equation for this commission, and instead went with a simpler inked line approach for his artistry. It’s certainly adequate, but may not be as well-received as his exquisite woodcuts and lithographs that grace other Macy volumes. Tolstoy and Eichenberg would meet twice more (with his patented woodblocks) in the future for the LEC, with Resurrection and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth seeing his flourish in 1963 and 1974, respectively.

Tolstoy’s publishing history with Macy is detailed in Anna Karenina, and Eichenberg’s is covered in The Brothers Karamazov.

Design details are most abridged in this set; one page of the Sandglass is spent on the cast of the book, forcing Macy to gloss over most of the publication details. Perhaps World War II (which was in full swing at this point) caused the book to be printed in-house entirely? The boards are covered in a “silky maroon linen”, with gold leaf (mine appears silver) for Eichenberg’s design and for the spine’s text. Eichenberg contributed forty drawings, and Verestchagin’s paintings were taken from the Napoleonic campaigns collection at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. And…that’s all I can give you. However, Django6924 had plenty to say about the book’s release date, as well as an interesting story about Freedman (I had originally mentioned that Freedman died in 1958, and had supposed that this release followed his death):

Jerry, your Sandglass is the same as mine and dates from the initial HP release in 1943. When War and Peace was re-issued in 1951, it was in a single volume and the Sandglass didn’t have any details on the production either.

In your article you mention that since Freedman died in 1958, that this edition dates from then. It is one of those little details that make the collecting of HP editions a fascinating game of detective work! In fact, this statement proves how strange things were for Macy during the war, and how much confusion existed in those days before satellite communications. In fact, Macy, and many others, I’m sure, believed that Freedman had died serving as a War Artist–having been sent to France in April 1940 to record the work of the BEF–either during the near-disaster of Dunkirk, or being lost when the Bismarck sank HMS Hood, with with virtually the entire ship’s company.

Freedman was nearly lost at Dunkirk when he left the complement of War Artists to retrieve the one painting he had completed before the Germans forced the evacuation. As told in the wonderful book The Sketchbook War: Saving the Nation’s Artists in World War II (which features the exploits of several LEC illustrators), Freedman had “a last defiant meal on French soil before leaving the burning city–three bottles of champagne and a tin of bully beef” before getting on an ammunition boat which brought him to England. After this, he was posted, not on HMS Hood as Macy thought, but on HMS Repulse, which was one of the ships that sank the Bismarck. This is undoubtedly the origin on the comment “late, great painter” in the 1943 War and Peace Sandglass and the comment in the 1951 War and Peace Sandglass that Freedman was a survivor of the sinking of the Hood (in fact there were only two survivors) and a survivor of Dunkirk.

Isn’t that fascinating? Once again, World War II wrecks havoc on Macy’s plans, much like it did with Oedipus the King, This is the Hour, and Le Fleurs de Mal, among others. At least this one had a happy ending, and Freedman lived through his trials as a war painter (to ultimately come back and do Anna Karenina!). Funny how this post has been a bit of a circle, and how War and Peace seems to be an actual theme to the events of Macy’s artists, too!






Title Page – The text is taken from the LEC edition of War and Peace, which featured a modified translation by noted Tolstoy scholars Louise and Aylmer Maude. The latter also provides an introduction and many notes to the text. Macy made plenty of his own notes of how this is an exclusive to his printing houses, so he must have had some pride in acquiring it.

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

Personal Notes – This is a set I’ve wanted for some time, and it came in the bunch of Heritage titles I acquired from the Oakhurst Library. Still need to read it, though.

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

Heritage Press: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1944)

April 20, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1944)

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1944)
Sandglass Number XIII:23
Artwork: Hither-to Unpublished Drawings by William Blake
Translated and with notes by Melville Best Anderson, Introduced by Arthur Livingston
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own edition of The Divine Comedy in 1933. This edition borrows the textual design from that edition.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – I recently asked my fellow Devotees to select a Heritage book from the lot I have remaining for this particular post, and the consensus settled upon the Heritage Divine Comedy. This is quite a lovely book, especially from the outside. But we’ll dive into that in a moment; let’s talk about Dante. Dante Alighieri is best known for this particular work, and the George Macy Company and its successors agreed on that front; this was the only work from the poet issued by the Club, but it was issued in its own unique edition for the LEC and for the Heritage Press. The LEC came out in 1933, and was printed by Officina Bodoni, the famed printing house in Verona, Italy run by Hans Mardersteig. It lacked any illustrations from my understanding (and quick research). The Heritage Press, a little over a decade later, decided to print their own edition based in part on Mardersteig’s LEC design, but with an addition: the previously unpublished drawings of Dante’s imaginative world done by the British artist and poet, William Blake.

Blake has been discussed here before, way back in 2011 when I shared a frankly shoddy copy of the Heritage The Pilgrim’s Progress with you. I failed in those heady times to properly document his bibliography in the Clubs, so I’ll do that now:

1941, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, illustrator (available as a Heritage)
1954, L’Allegro and Il Penseroso by John Milton, illustrator (available as a Heritage)
1973, Poems of William Blake, author/illustrator (seemingly available as a 1990s Heritage…which essentially means an Easton Press book)

Heritage Press:
1940, Paradise Lost by John Milton, illustrator (Carlotta Petrina did the LEC edition)
1944, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, illustrator

Blake was, to put it modestly, a fairly surreal illustrator, and the Club chose to avoid some of the “grisly surrealist suggestiveness” of many of the one hundred and two drawings left to John Linnell, the person who commissioned Blake to conduct this project back in 1824. Blake intended to engrave all of them, but his passing in 1927 left only seven finished engravings and the bunch of sketches. Linnell paid Blake a fairly nice sum of two to three pounds a week while he worked on these illustrations, but they ultimately came to naught, as Linnell chose not to use the unfinished artwork and merely retained the pieces in his collection. His family managed to keep these treasured sketches and engravings safe, and in 1918 the family sold off the assortment of Blake’s work to a multitude of scholarly institutions. Reproductions were made for subscribers, and George Macy (or one of his associates) happened to be one of those subscribers. Wanting to avoid comparisons to Gustave Dore’s Bible, which Macy describes as a child experiencing “nightmare after nightmare as a result of looking at the grisly pictures in the Dore Bible!“, Macy narrowed the selections down to 32 drawings and one engraving for the Heritage Divine Comedy — none of which he deemed too “grisly”. Macy also chose to tint the artwork for each section: a “hot red” for Inferno, a “warm brown” for Purgatory, and a “cool blue” for Paradise. The engraving is reproduced exactly as it was in the print from the original reproduced book.

Production details are lacking in…well, detail. I can tell you the font (Bembo), the binding (a dynamic red cloth with a sharp black design mimicking the ecclesiastics from Dante’s period, featuring a pomegranate motif popular in that time), and that Sir Emery Walker was the original reproducer of the Blake illustrations before they were subsequently reproduced in a smaller scale via photogravure for this edition. I can also tell you that the text design is pretty much borrowed from the LEC edition, as best as I can tell, making Mardersteig the partial designer of this book. Beyond that, unless someone has some other piece of paraphernalia, I can’t tell you much more about it.






Title Page – The text utilizes Dr. Melville Best Anderson’s translation, which the Sandglass notes was also used by the LEC to create their Divine Comedy. Anderson apparently revisited it for the Heritage version with some emendations, if I’m reading Macy’s words properly. Notes were also provided by Anderson. Arthur Livingston was called upon to write an Introduction to the text, and as the title page proclaims, this is the first public printing of William Blake’s Divine Comedy sketches.

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

Personal Notes – I’ve had this book since 2012 I believe. I got it at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, alongside my lovely Penguin Island starring Frank C. Pape’s artwork. Lovely shop with very kind owners. The binding won me over; what a lovely cloth this is! Blake’s style is not really my cup of tea, but it’s certainly unique and bizarre and fascinating to look at, so I’m quite happy to have this edition in my collection.

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

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1951/1941)

March 27, 2015 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1951/1941)

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.

Sandglass forthcoming.

Curios: The Most Popular Authors in the LEC/Heritage canon

March 27, 2015 § 2 Comments

I’m beginning a new tradition here at the Imagery; once in a while, I’d like to present some interesting bit of research or trivia to you. Today, I’ll share the top authors who were published most by the two major arms of the Macy Companies and their successors. I will separate the two presses at first, and then merge the results to see who wins the coveted (imaginary) “Most Popular” status!

Limited Editions Club:

1) William Shakespeare, with 41 individual releases! I’m counting each book in the LEC Shakespeare as its own entity.
2) Mark Twain, with 12 individual releases.
3) Charles Dickens, with 9 individual releases.
3) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 individual releases.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 8 individual releases.
5) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 individual releases.
5) Joseph Conrad, with 8 individual releases.
8) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 individual releases.
8) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 6 individual releases.
10) Gustave Flaubert, with 5 individual releases.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 5 individual releases.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 5 individual releases.
10) Anatole France, with 5 individual releases.
10) Victor Hugo, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jane Austen, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jules Verne, with 5 individual releases.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 5 individual releases.
10) Sir Walter Scott, with 5 individual releases.

Heritage Press:

This is not as simple to document, as there remains an incomplete bibliography of the Heritage Press output. But, relying on the research I’ve done here, I’ll do my best. I’ll only be doing a Top 5 due to the less frequent original publications of this Press.

1) Charles Dickens, with 14 individual releases!
2) William Shakespeare, with 5 individual releases.
3) Mark Twain, with 3 individual releases.
4) Anatole France, with 2 individual releases.
5) Henry James, with 2 individual releases.
5) Washington Irving, with 2 individual releases.
5) Charles Lamb, with 2 individual releases.
5) Homer, with 2 individual releases.
5) Nathaniel Hawthorne, with 2 individual releases.


1) William Shakespeare, with 46 books to his name in the canon!
2) Charles Dickens, with 23 books.
3) Mark Twain, with 15 books.
4) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 books.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 9 books (I’m including the Heritage Crime and Punishment as a separate release).
6) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 books.
6) Joseph Conrad, with 8 books.
6) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 8 books.
9) Anatole France, with 7 books.
10) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 books.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 6 books.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 6 books.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 6 books.

This list is subject to change, as there may be a Heritage exclusive somewhere I may have missed.

Heritage Press: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1946)

December 17, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1946)

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

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