Limited Editions Club: The Way of the World by William Congreve (1959)

July 9, 2017 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Way of the World by William Congreve (1959)

The Way of the World by William Congreve (1959)
LEC #301/27th Series V. 10 in 1959
Artwork: Illustrations by T.M. Cleland
Introduced by Louis Kronenberger

#1358 of 1500.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – Today’s post comes from a notable English playwright not named William Shakespeare — instead, it’s William Congreve, who rose in prominence in the late 1600s with his theatrical works and poetry. This is probably his best known work, although a few of his lines in The Mourning Bride (1697) have become common parlance in terms of quotation: “Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast [beast]” and “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” are paraphrases of Congreve’s actual lines in that play. However, the George Macy Company only showered Congreve with this sole LEC edition (which is also available in a Heritage reprint, with a blue cloth binding if I remember right). This is a rather lovely book regardless of that fact. I love this binding, and it’s a book I’ve actually wanted to add to my collection for a while now in either format.

Congreve’s comedic narrative was brought to life by T.M. Cleland, last seen here performing a similar design philosophy for Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer. Cleland’s bibliography is covered in my Monsieur Beaucaire post (which doesn’t step too far away from this design as well; perhaps it was part of an unstated series). As with those books, he served as both illustrator and designer for this book as well. Thankfully, Cleland’s vision for this set is pretty nice to look at, especially the title page. I also find the illustrations in this book to be reproduced a little better than in Beaucaire.

Design Notes – Cleland’s design was executed by A. Colish, with his own illustrations being printed by the Photogravure and Color Company and colored by Walter Fischer’s studio. However, I don’t have a ML nor is one available to me at the moment, so I’m afraid this is the most I can share for now.

Front Binding (contrast adjusted to spotlight the detail) – This design is also on the back of the book.

Spine

Slipcase

Title Page – Cleland has a way of heightening title pages; he’s consistently done some elegant and classy ones over the books we’ve covered of his thus far. And, in a curious twist, Louis Kronenberger is called to serve as the Introduction writer here, the second of at least three collaborations with Cleland. The History of Tom Jones came first, with She Stoops to Conquer following this book.

Colophon – This is copy 1358 of 1500 and signed by Cleland.

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

Personal Notes – This is the latest LEC to come into my hands; I actually found it at my local Goodwill a few months ago for $4, along with a second copy of The Three Cornered Hat. I snagged them both, in the hopes that the latter will help me next time I head to Monterey in earning some store credit somewhere. Both were in great condition in terms of the books themselves; the slipcase for this one is a little ragged, but I view that as it doing its job over the years. I adore the binding on this so I’m pleased as punch to have it.

Limited Editions Club: Selections from The Koran (1958)

July 9, 2017 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: Selections from The Koran (1958)

Selections from The Koran (1958)
LEC #284/26th Series V. 5 in 1958
Artwork: Decorations by Valenti Angelo
Translated from the Arabic and Introduced by Arthur Jeffrey
#660 of 1500.

Curator’s Note – The Koran (Quran) is the most sacred text of the Islamic faith, and some Muslims believe it is not acceptable to reproduce the book via photograph. As an anthropologist, I personally adhere to the discipline’s tenets of being respectful and understanding to other cultural groups and their religious/societal beliefs. With that in mind, I will be putting all of this post’s images behind a jump in a special gallery. For the Table of Contents, the slipcase’s spine will be shown. That way it is a choice to view these images, and will hopefully be a fair compromise for all parties. For those who clicked onto this post via a link or the Table of Contents who may follow that belief, please be aware that photographs will be included at the bottom of the post and will be marked beforehand. I appreciate your understanding on this matter.

With the preamble above duly noted, let’s discuss what I can about this book from the Limited Editions Club’s perspective. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the Monthly Letter for this, but what I can gleam from the book itself is the following. This is not the entire Koran, but selections of the sacred text as selected by its translator Arthur Jeffrey. Valenti Angelo was called upon to provide decorations, and includes his trademark hand illuminations on several pages as well (as last seen here in the Heritage Salome where you will also find his LEC/Heritage bibliography). It’s been a while since we’ve seen Angelo on the blog (2011’s discussion on Shakespeare’s Sonnets for the Heritage Press), but this is an excellent example of his exquisite eye for this style of illustration. I presume he was the guiding hand for the design given how prevalent his decorations are to the overall aesthetic of the text, but I may be wrong. What little else I can gleam from the book is that A. Colish was the publishing house. As soon as I get access to additional information I’ll update the post. The Heritage Press did reprint this, which is a rather nice edition for the Club considering the year (many Heritage reprints starting around this point are lacking in their reproduction values — stripping out colors and such from the text and illustrations — but this is an exception).

Personal Notes – This is the final LEC sent to me by my very kind contact Liz, who also sent along Tono-Bungay and Herodotus’ Histories. Once again, I am incredibly appreciative for her generosity. It’s a book I didn’t expect to be in my collection any time soon, and yet here we are.

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Limited Editions Club: The Book of the People: Popoh Vuh (1954)

July 3, 2017 § 1 Comment

The Book of the People: Popoh Vuh (1954)
LEC #251/23rd Series V. 7 in 1954
Artwork: Illustrations by Everett Gee Jackson
Translation by Sylvanus Griswold Morley and Delia Goetz (based on the Spanish translation by Adrian Recinos), with a Pronouncing Dictionary compiled by Lucille Kaufman Weil

#687 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – This is a book I’ve been looking forward to discussing on the blog ever since I discovered the Limited Editions Club actually decided to publish it: the Popol Vuh, also known as The Book of the People. If you’ll let me divulge briefly from the LEC for a minute, I’d like to share just a bit of a glimpse into the world of the Ancient Maya (the creators of this text) and their fascinating culture. I may have mentioned this before, but I am an anthropologist by trade and spent a fair amount of time earning my Bachelors learning about the Maya people. My upper division courses were mostly in archaeology (even though my interests lie in socio-cultural; let’s just say that archaeology had a better set of professors and leave it at that), and I had three courses with one who specialized in the Ancient Maya. She was trying to resolve a major archaeological question of why the Maya abandoned many of their cities at a particular point in history. Now if you haven’t seen Maya ruins, here is an example. This is one of the pyramids in Caracol, a major site in Belize. We know the name because archaeologists and linguists have cracked the Mayan written language, which is an amazing story I’ll summarize briefly here. The Maya utilized pictures (i.e. hieroglyphs) for their written language, like so. Here’s an article and a video on the writing:

My professor’s interests lie in caves; the Maya as a group treated them with extreme reverence, and would often leave artifacts in there as gifts to the underworld. The Maya also practiced sacrifice, as blood was among the highest gifts you could give to the gods. One of the more famous sites in Belize is the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, where within lies a crystallized female skeleton known as the Crystal Maiden. You can read up more on her and these practices here. My professor believes that these rituals were done to appease the rain god Chaak (spelling differs, but I believe this is how my professor spelled it). The Maya religion is quite fascinating as a whole, especially one of the few books that survived to the present day, the Popol Vuh. I recommend taking a quick look at this PDF or buying Allen J. Christenson’s translation if you’re curious…or track down this edition of the book!

Okay, so with that background out of the way, let’s get back to the LEC edition. This is the 251st book of the LEC, so it fell outside of the Quarto‘s 250 volumes. Fortunately I do have a monthly letter to get into some details for you. Curiously, the letter devotes a page or so to Clarence Day the author of Life with Father, but does eventually focus itself on the topic at hand. Now please keep in mind that the text here was produced in 1954, and that both knowledge on the Ancient Maya and anthropological practices have greatly increased and improved, respectively.

This book appears to have come about due to the interest of illustrator Everett Gee Jackson, a professor of art at San Diego State at the time, who had told Macy that he had desired a commission to bring his artistic touch to this classic work of Latin America before he died. Macy obliged, and Jackson headed to several Maya ruins scattered throughout Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras for reference. His yearlong trek brought him to some of the most astounding Maya ruins still standing, including Chichen Inza, Copan and Tulan, and ultimately led him to produce several paintings of key figures of the Popol Vuh (eight of which were selected to lead off the book) and fifty drawings that decorate the text. Now Jackson does a fine job here, but it is a bit of a disappointment that another LEC alum didn’t get the offer — Miguel Covarrubias. Covarrubias had worked alongside translator Sylvanus Morley and produced papers with the noted archaeologist, but given Macy’s several headaches dealing with the artist in the past, it’s unsurprising that such a call was never made. Anyway, this was Jackson’s first solo commission for the LEC, and I’ll let his publication history from an earlier post on Paul Bunyan tell the rest.

Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks of the Plantin Press were called in to design and publish the book. They dug into the history of the Quiche Maya people and utilized the “Dresden Codex”, one of the scant remaining copies of a Maya text, as the base for their design, taking the Mayan hieroglyphs discussed earlier as decorations throughout the work. Saul handled the implementation of the design and the typography, while Lillian set the text (in Bembo) quite excellently. Paper was supplied by Mohawk Paper Mills, the paintings reprinted by the Photogravure and Color Company, the drawings properly printed by the Marks themselves, and Russell-Rutter performing the bindery duties per usual. The binding was deliberately kept simple; a coarse green linen with only the title being stamped in green on the spine.

Spine – Mine has an unfortunate stain on the spine. I’ll have to look into some sort of way to clean it.

Slipcase – Alas, the bookseller felt compelled to apply a price label on the text of the slipcase, so when I tried to remove it I lost the “Vuh”. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in used books, and it’s tragic when it happens to rarer books like these.

Title Page – The text reprinted here is the translation done by Morley and his partner Delia Goetz, which was in turn taken from the Spanish translation by Adrian Recinos, a former ambassador for the U.S. from Guatemala. The English was originally printed by the University of Oklahoma, who gave Macy permission to reprint their text. Lucille Kaufman Weil supplies a pronunciation dictionary and there is a meaty appendix in the back. The introduction writer is unspecified, but I suspect either Morley or Goetz was behind it.

Colophon – This is copy 687 and signed by Jackson.

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

Personal Notes – I ordered this one from an online seller around the time I got the two Cyrano LECs, as this was the other major wishlist item I had. This one isn’t quite as excellent in condition as the Cyrano as there’s a decent stain to the spine, as well as some slipcase damage thanks to a bookseller sticker and some heavy wear, but otherwise it’s in pretty good shape and I’m happy to have it.

If you’re at all interested in learning more about the Maya and/or want to read fiction I’ve written, please take a look at my archaeological fiction on the Maya on my academic site P4. There’s two short stories I wrote for a class that are heavily sourced from available Maya information from many experts in that subject area, and I am pretty proud of them, too.

LEC Monthly Letter

Limited Editions Club: The Birds by Aristophanes (1959)

June 17, 2017 § 2 Comments

The Birds by Aristophanes (1959)
LEC #304/28th Series V. 1 in 1959
Artwork: Illustrations by Marian Parry
Introduced and translated by Dudley Fitts

#403 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – It’s been a while since we last encountered Aristophanes, hasn’t it? Well this isn’t the expensive book with his name attached to it — that’s Lysistrata, and we covered the Heritage edition of that a bit ago. I also updated that post a little with Aristophanes’ publishing history, just as a FYI.

This is the last book issued by the George Macy Company from the playwright; we’ll have to track down The Frogs to wrap it all up. Curiously, the Heritage Press paired this with The Frogs when they issued it around the same time as this volume. They didn’t do that often, but it did happen on occasion — one half of the book was The Birds, and then one could flip it over and there was The Clouds.

Marian Perry was recruited to provide pen-and-ink drawings to decorate the text, and she does an admirable job giving character to the events of the play. Some are printed in color, which gives it some pop. Parry only worked on this LEC, but she left a strong impression in my opinion.

Design Notes – Bert Clarke of Clarke and Way was the lead designer on this book, although Parry was heavily involved given how crucial her illustrations are to the design. Bembo was the font of choice, and the Thistle Press (aka Clarke and Way) printed the text in their own shop. They decided to double-fold the pages, a rarity for the LEC. The letter goes into the cutting of double-fold pages in some detail on Page 4. Curtis Paper provided the …well, paper, and binding was done by the ever-constant Frank Fortney.

Solander Case

Slipcase

Title Page – Dudley Fitts was the translator of the text for this edition, and provides some thoughts in an Introduction.

Colophon – Since I got this at Old Captiol Books (formerly BookBuyers), it’s #403 of 1500 like every other title I’ve purchased from there.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this at Old Capitol Books in Monterey last time I was there, which was shortly after Christmas in 2016. The majority of my LECs are from that delightful shop and its predecessor, and when I stopped in Monterey this past November I wasn’t able to make it there, so it was nice to revisit the store after a bit of a long gap. I took my time to make my decision, and given that I adore Aristophanes’ work, I felt it was high time to actually add a LEC of his to my collection.

LEC Monthly Letter

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen (1965)

June 10, 2017 § 4 Comments

Limited Editions Club

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964
Artwork: Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner

#144 of 1500. Heritage edition detailed below.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Hello again, dear readers. It’s been almost a half year since we last had a book post pop up here at the blog, and over those six months my life has continued to change. I needed to get away for a bit to mature and rediscover myself, and I think I’m finally at a good point to pick up this project once again and discuss these lovely books. So I hope you can excuse me revising an old post as my return so I can get this back under my belt again. Thankfully it’s a nice edition from the Helen Macy period; Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen! This set features three of his biggest works: the biggies Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck leap to the forefront, although An Enemy of the People is also a classic. The Limited Editions Club previously published Peer Gynt in 1955 for the LEC and 1957 for the Heritage Press.

Artistically Fredrik Matheson was recruited to do woodcuts for this edition, and they are quite lovely. This was his only commission, but it’s a memorable one! The LEC features more colors in its prints than the Heritage; a common trend in Helen Macy’s period.

Design Notes – Matheson was responsible for the design along with Arnstein and Agnar Kirste, owners of the Kirstes Boktrykkeri (aka bookprintery, as the Sandglass defines it) of Oslo, Norway, where the book was printed and bound. The text is Garamond. Beyond this, I can’t get into any more specifics due to no LEC letter either in my book or from my fellow collectors. Once one turns up I’ll update this.

Spine

Slipcase

Title Page – The title page fails to mention the translators/editor of this set. An Enemy of the People was rendered into English by Eleanor Marx-Aveling, the daughter of Communist Manifesto author Karl Marx. William Archer, the editor of this book, collaborated on Hedda Gabler‘s translation with Edmond Gosse, and Archer’s wife Florence Elizabeth Archer did the honors for The Wild Duck. John Gassner, who is credited here, offers up an Introduction.

Colophon – Matheson signed this copy, and this is #144 out of 1500.

Examples of the Illustrations by Matheson – I’m skipping the Gallery to make the comparisons easier to see.

Page 2

Page 7 – I really like Matheson’s artwork. His larger prints are full color wood engravings (with each color being a different block, which blows the mind if you begin to think about the craft of such precision on multiple blocks), while the smaller ones are mere monochrome (but still special!).  This would be his sole work for the George Macy Company, but he certainly left his mark. The colors are more dynamic in the LEC in contrast to the Heritage; notice the reds and peach tones.

Page 59 – This one, meanwhile, had a lot of blues the Heritage lacks.

Personal Notes – I purchased this at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, CA when I was last there, alongside the Quarto-Millenary. I essentially got it from free. :) It’s nice to have this back; as I note below in the original post, I lost my Heritage copy to water damage, and now I have the more luxurious LEC to replace it.

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
Sandglass Number XV:29
Artwork – Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner
Reprint of LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964

Front Binding – Unfortunately, the first thing that probably leaps to the eye is the staining the bottom of the binding features — I’m not sure if it was coffee or some other tannish liquid, but considering I got this book for free, I did not complain too much. However, a second mishap splashed water over several of my incomplete tomes, and this received additional damage while I attempted to dry it off.

Design Notes – The Heritage was printed by Kellogg and Bulkeley in Hartford, Connecticut on paper from the Cumberland Mills of Maine, which are owned by the S.D. Warren Company of Boston. The Russell-Rutter Company performed bindery duties, and the boards have a pattern paper meant to resemble a curtain, appropriate for Ibsen, legend of theater.

Title Page – The same as the LEC minus the red.

Page 7 – As you can see, this is less colorful than the LEC, but still nice. The Sandglass gets deep into Matheson’s art career on Page 4.

Page 17

Page 61

Personal Notes – I was sad to see this one go. I got this as a gift from my anthropology instructor, who salvaged it from somewhere. Thankfully I now have the LEC!

Sandglass:

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936/1954)

April 23, 2017 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936/1954)

Before beginning this post proper, let me give a brief explanation for this post. This is the second time I will be covering all publications of a particular work by the George Macy Company that was printed in two unique LEC editions (the first was Tartuffe, although that was done in two posts). I’ll be starting with the earlier book first, and then cover the later LEC and Heritage reprint (the latter previously covered on the blog). Also, I accidentally mislabeled the date on the update, but I don’t want to relink everything more than once, so I’m leaving it as an April 2017 post. :p

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936)
LEC #80/7th Series V. 10 in 1936
Artwork: Watercolors by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated and Introduced by Brian Hooker

#510 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – I am a nut about Cyrano de Bergerac (which I’ll get into below). So, I am beyond pleased to tell you that there are two Limited Editions Club variants of this fine play…although there is a very complex history behind the publication of both of these lovely books. But we’ll get to that momentarily.

Edmond Rostand, another of the legendary French playwrights (alongside Moliere, of course), had several other dramas beyond Cyrano spring forth from his pen, but none seemed to resonate the same way as his epic retelling of the eccentric de Bergerac. The George Macy Company didn’t feel compelled to create books for any of his other works, but being printed in two separate LEC volumes is relatively rare, so kudos to Rostand for that achievement (and having two spectacular artists doing your work justice at that!).

So this book has some significant backstory behind it, which I’ll happily share. This is retold from the Sandglass at the very bottom of this post. Before the war, when the Club was initially beginning the planning of this edition, Jacques LeClercq was going to be the book’s translator. He had performed the task and submitted it the LEC, but Macy and his partners felt that LeClercq did not recapture Cyrano‘s talents at poetry in English, or as the Sandglass puts it, “he had not made real poems out of the ‘set pieces'”. This was disappointing to Macy as LeClercq had done plenty of work for him that he felt did the original work justice, but just couldn’t print this particular translation.

While the text was being puzzled over, the other half of the book’s design was also having its own problems. The Club wanted to utilize Pierre Brissaud, who had recently made a big splash for the Heritage edition of The Story of Manon Lescaut which had just come out earlier in the year. Brissaud had completed his set of illustrations, but prior to sending them off to the LEC Europe began sinking into the chaotic web that begat World War II. Brissaud made himself scarce as Germany’s forces entered Paris, and vanished for over a decade from any contact with Macy or the LEC.

Now, this is all from the Heritage Press’ perspective, and I do not have access to the Monthly Letter of the second edition, and the letter for this book doesn’t mention any of this. The Quarto as well is mum on the matter, only delving into design notes for both. So, for now I am presuming that the Brissaud/LeClercq edition was originally scheduled as a LEC edition, not only as a Heritage exclusive. Once I know for sure I will update this post.

Either way, with Brissaud unable to get his illustrations out of Europe during the war and LeClercq’s translation deemed inappropriate, the project shifted gears. The LEC settled on Brian Hooker’s translation — popular at the time and still held with regard in dramatic circles — along with recruiting another French watercolorist, Sylvain Sauvage, to handle the art. The first truly was a desperate book…which makes it all the more remarkable it turned out as nice as it did.

Sauvage hasn’t been discussed as much as I would like on this blog, but we do have some history on him over at our Zadig post. As a pitch hitter, he scored a home run in my opinion, as his work is absolutely gorgeous here. There are twelve full page watercolor illustrations reprinted here in color collotype.

Design Notes – My edition came with the announcement card, so I’ll let that speak for the volume:

The binding, while novel for the blog, was modeled after the design utilized by the Club for Sauvage’s handling of the Anatole France novel At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque, and would see one more reuse for another France edition, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. Images for both courtesy of Oak Knoll Books. It has two sides, so the back is also included below. Our featured book was designed and printed by Edmund B. Thompson at Hawthorn House. Curiously, the France novels were done by different designers: William A. Kittredge of the Lakeside Press for the Queen, and Edward Alonzo Miller for Crime.

Now if you read that note closely, you’ll notice it states the rust-colored linen is stamped in a blue and gold pattern; however, the “blue” appears brown to my eyes on my copy and others I’ve seen online. So perhaps it was originally blue but time has discolored it, or an alternative was used after this was printed. Again, this book was a bit of a pickle for Macy, so it may just be another detail that had to be changed at the last minute. And since the note lacks the detail, ever at the ready bindery Russell-Rutter performed that task.

Back Binding – This is a classic scene from the play, where Christian attempts to woo Roxane with the help of Cyrano speaking on his behalf.

Spine

Slipcase – The slipcase includes the limitation number, a relative rarity for the LEC, but it does happen on occasion.

Title Page – The book has an exquisite title page with the play’s dramatic final moments spotlighted here (perhaps an odd choice to have the end be your centerpiece for the title page, but with art this well executed it’s hard to complain). This edition never saw a Heritage reprint.

Colophon – Here Sauvage provides his signature (nice to have one!), and this is copy #510 of 1500.

Examples of the Text and Illustrations by Sauvage:

Page 3 – Each act begins with a nice curtained backdrop surrounding Rostand’s notes setting up the scene.

Page 20 – Sauvage’s gorgeous watercolors are an ideal fit for the world of Cyrano. Brissaud is a very close second, but I do have to give the artistic edge to the older edition. Here Cyrano steps up to shut down the play of his rival, Montfleury.

Page 36 – Here Cyrano has outclassed snotty marquis Valvert both in verse and by the sword.

Personal Notes – This book was created in chaos, and apparently I needed a relic of such a time for my own personal chaos, as I acquired this from an online seller as my marriage was dissolving last year. I wanted to fill three huge holes in my collection with an influx of money that had come in, and both Cyrano LECs and the Popol Vuh (which will likely be the next post) fit the bill, with reasonably priced copies in good condition available for all three books. I am thankful to finally have this book, as it was on my wishlist for a long while. And while I wish it didn’t have to come to me in a time where I was trying to ignore the reality of my life on the precipice of changing forever, I still cherish it for what it is, not for what time it entered my life.

LEC Newsletter:

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)
LEC # 240/22th Series V. 8 in 1954
Artwork: Ilustrations by Pierre Brissaud
Translated and Introduced by Louis Untermeyer
#990 of 1500. Heritage Edition discussed below.

Front Binding – And so we turn to the 1954 edition, one of the last books overseen by Macy himself (he served as designer for both the LEC and Heritage editions) before his death and the fulfillment of at least half of the idealized edition of the play he had set out to make in the first place. When the Club finally reconnected with Brissaud in 1952, they offered him the chance to print his Cyrano with the lost art they were unable to originally use. Brissaud’s response? “…In the intervening years he had certainly grown older and possibly wiser, that he certainly ought to make a new set of pictures – which would be better pictures.” So he did twenty five brand new illustrations, done with pen and brush watercolors, which were printed for the LEC by the Photogravure and Color Company in key black, then hand colored by Walter Fischer to match up with Brissaud’s originals. And thus the edition now before you was printed. But LeClercq, the translator intended to pair with Brissaud, was still unseen in the edition. As the Sandglass below explains, the Club apparently had the intention of printing this book again while the LEC original would never be printed as a Heritage edition, and Louis Untermeyer was subsequently recruited to do his own translation for the second edition. Personally, I find it one of the best — if not the best — I’ve read of this production, and I adore this play.

Since this post originally served as a means of sharing Brissaud’s bibliography with the Club, let’s go ahead and cover that again. He had a decent run for Macy, with three Limited Editions Club titles, which are Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1950) and Saint-Simon’s Memoirs (1954) along with Cyrano. He also rendered the Heritage Press exclusive The Story of Manon Lescaut as noted above. Manon Lescaut was issued in 1936, but Brissaud had disappeared during the chaos of World War II (as observed above), and would not return to the Macy fold until 1950 with Madame Bovary. He passed away in 1964.

Design Notes – Courtesy of the Quarto and the Colophon, here’s what I can tell you. As I mentioned earlier, Macy himself designed the book.The Marchbanks Press handled printing duties after the text was set by David Goldman’s team at Empire Typographers. Curtis Paper was used, and the binding was done again by Russell-Rutter. The font is Times Roman, with News Gothic for character names. The binding is a full patterned brocade with a tan leather label stamped in gold.

Spine

Slipcase

Frontispiece – Right before the title page is this fantastic curtain call illustration by Brissaud, which I think perfectly suits Cyrano. A fine way to start a book! There is a bit more color to the LEC in contrast to the Heritage, as I will provide below.

Title Page – Untermeyer was no stranger to the Macy publications at this point, with several introductions and a few other contributions under his belt by the time Cyrano came out. This may be his unsung opus, though. He also provides an intro for this volume.

Colophon – Much more relaxed in style than Sauvage’s. This is #990 of 1500 and Brissaud provides his signature.

Pages 16 – 17 – Christian and Ligniere chat about Roxane, before the performance of Montfleury. De Guiche can be seen talking to Roxane in the balcony. Brissaud does a splendid job illustrating Cyrano much like Sauvage did; I find both premiere treatments of the classic. I think I like the execution of Sauvage’s watercolors just a touch more due to being full-page prints versus the majority of in-text ones Brissaud created. Both are marvelous though.

Pages 76-77 – Here De Guiche, the major antagonist of the play, shows up to recruit Cyrano to his side after seeing his skills at poetry and swordplay.

Personal Notes – I got this at the same time as the original LEC of the play from another online seller, and it replaced my Heritage edition.

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)
Sandglass Number IX:18
Artwork: Ilustrations by Pierre Brissaud
Translated and Introduced by Louis Untermeyer
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC # 240/22th Series V. 8 in 1954

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – This feathery design was done through a specifically designed marbled cloth, modeled after the 17th century French style. The Press calls it an unusual material for them. It’s on both the front and the back. My first copy did not come with a slipcase, but the second did, and it’s a tan color.

Design Notes – Brissaud’s watercolors were done differently here; here they were reproduced as gravures with dark brown ink. From there Brissaud watercolored them all and returned them to the Club. Herbert Rau cut each color into a rubber plate, so that the book’s reproductions would match up to Brissaud’s originals (mostly, as you will see below). The text was set still by Empire Typographers in New York, while the Heritage reprint was reprinted by the Ferris Printing Company on specifically made paper for this edition.

Frontispiece (Heritage left, LEC right) – The Heriage omits the peach and tan tones entirely, and prints the other colors in a different, often lighter tone. They still are effective, but lack the pop that the full color range gives the LEC edition.

Title Page – I’m impressed the red was reused here; oftentimes Heritage editions strip out extra colors on title pages.

Page 16

Page 65 – Cyrano and Roxane share a moment after the scene with the poets. I think this is definitive proof of Brissaud being an ideal match for Rostand’s classic.

Bonus Pamphlet – Along with a Sandglass, the Heritage Press included a comparison between Cyrano’s famous “nose” speech in Act I, and how it has been translated over the years (including LeClercq’s unused translation). A rather fascinating document!

Personal Notes – Acquired at a Oakhurst library sale, this was my third Heritage Press book (The Aeneid and Sherlock Holmes preceding it). It’s arguably the one that clued me into discovering that there was a particular press making all these exquisite books I was getting. I’ve become hopelessly devoted to these literary treasures. I considered this one of my absolute favorite books in my collection…until I replaced it with the LEC, but now that edition is treasured as such! As I mentioned, I love this play, and I found Untermeyer’s translation very readable and smooth. Having been a part of this dramatic production as De Guiche for my local college, I consider it to be a great way of remembering the good times being in this show. Brissaud’s excellent art is a great cherry on top, although I have to give the LEC the edge for its extra coloring.

Sandglass:

Updated 6/23/2017 – JF

Of Interest: Richard Ellis’ Career

January 1, 2017 Comments Off on Of Interest: Richard Ellis’ Career

Over at the Devotees forum, user featherwate compiled a nice little history and bibliography of renowned book designer Richard Ellis, who worked on several LEC and Heritage Press titles for George Macy. This reappears here with his permission and slight editing. Thanks Jack!

Richard ‘Dick’ Ellis (1894/5/6-1982 [1], book architect [2]
Over a career spanning 60 years, Richard Ellis (familiarly known as RWE), built up a reputation as one of America’s finest printers and book designers, whether working for himself or for such leading names as Random House, OUP and the George Macy companies. One of his earliest commissions came from the distinguished publisher, art entrepreneur and bibliophile Mitchell Kennerley, who asserted that “…he has the surest touch of any book designer and printer in America today [3].” This magic touch rarely failed RWE and nearly 140 fine items ranging from a massive Dante/Blake Inferno to Richard Aldington’s small but perfectly-formed Balls passed through his hands.
In 1950 George Macy remarked that Ellis “had not had his just share of praise and gratitude”, and he and his successors demonstrated their confidence in him with frequent commissions. The following list is as comprehensive as I can make it; any additions or corrections will be very welcome!

Asterisked titles indicate LEC volumes that were also issued under the Heritage imprint.
The LEC
As printer:

1930 Tartarin of Tarascon
As designer [4]:
1945 The Sir Roger De Coverley Papers*
1945 Wonderful Adventures Of Paul Bunyan*
1947 The Red and the Black*
1947 Two Years before the Mast*
1955 The Warden*
1957 The Picture of Dorian Gray*
1958 Barchester Towers* (“Printed by Peter Beilenson in Mount Vernon, New York from the typographic plans of Richard W. Ellis. Illustrations hand-colored in the studio of Richard W. Ellis, NY.”)
1961 The Rise of Silas Lapham
1963 The Ambassadors*
1964 Poor Richard’s Almanacs*
1966 Journey to the Center of the Earth*
1968 Journal of the Plague Year 1665*
1968 Heart of Darkness*
1971 Northanger Abbey*
1973 Candide (as well as designing the book, RWE also oversaw its printing)
1974 The Life of Washington
The Heritage originals
As printer:
1937 Green Mansions (The Sandglass [1A of June 1937] makes no mention of RWE and ascribes the printing to The Haddon Craftsmen. At the time, however, he was in the Craftsmen’s employ and directed both the printing and binding of the book, which had been designed by Frederic Warde)
As designer:
1940 The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver
1945 Robinson Crusoe
1948 The Book of Edward A. Wilson
1950 The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Notes:
[1] His birthday, December 7, isn’t in doubt but there is confusion over the year.
[2] In the 1925 New York Census RWE gave his occupation as ‘typographer’. Shortly afterwards he began to use ‘designer of books’ on his headed notepaper (Source: The Harbor Press Ephemera Collection). By 1940, however, he had acquired the confidence to enter his preferred description — ‘book architect’ — into the US Federal Census; surprisingly, perhaps, this neologism was accepted without comment (it wouldn’t have been in the UK!). But it seems not to have been taken up by others and appeareth not in the OED, the Urban Dictionary or, so far as I can tell, Webster’s. However, its derivative, ‘book architecture’ is a favorite buzzword of agencies offering to teach aspiring writers how to break into print.
[3] Mitchell Kennerley’s assertion was quoted on page 4 of the Monthly Letter for the 1973 LEC Candide
[4] It was said of him that in general: “Over the format, the typographic plan, and its execution Richard Ellis demanded complete jurisdiction; now and then he agreed to submit proofs, even more rarely to send trial pages…”. But I suspect that was earlier in his career, and not something he would have tried on too often with the Macys, who were effectively the saviors of his latter years.
Passim:
Earl Schenck Miers: “Richard Ellis, Printer.” The Journal of the Rutgers University Library, Volume 5 (December 1941)
Frank G. Harrington: “Praise Past Due, A Memoir of Richard Ellis”, Typographeum, 1991
Megan Benton: “Beauty and the Book: Fine Editions and Cultural Distinction in America”, Yale University Press, 2000

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