Of Interest – The LEC’s “Booklover’s Journey Around the World” Project

July 30, 2017 Comments Off on Of Interest – The LEC’s “Booklover’s Journey Around the World” Project

Before beginning, much thanks to Devotee BuzzBuzzard for sharing the monthly letter this all comes from. This was originally a part of The Praise of Folly Heritage post, but I feel it deserves its own space.

So, in the fall of 1938, George Macy and his Directors determined the course for the LEC following the release of the massive Shakespeare set — a “Booklover’s Journey around the World” is how the letter describes it. Intended to begin in November 1940, Macy would have the most influential book of a particular country selected to be designed, published and illustrated by artisans within that very country. He clearly was enthused beyond words for this lofty project, and even though there were considerable challenges ahead (what with World War II about to explode, not to mention other logical difficulties of doing international correspondence in those pre-Internet years) he felt that now was the time to announce the proposal to the membership. And what a proposal it is!

Fourteen works were selected from fourteen countries for the initial prospectus. For simplicity’s sake, I will list these out:

  1. The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett, England, printed by Oxford University Press, art by John Austen, introduced by Frank Swinnerton
  2. The Kalevala, Finland, printed by Tilghmann, art by Matti Visanti
  3. In Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus, Holland, printed by Joh. Enschede en Zonen, art by Franz Masereel
  4. The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert, France, printed by Jean-Gabriel Daragnes, art by Daragnes, translated by Lafcadio Hearn
  5. Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Greece, printed by Pyrsos Press, art by Demetrios Galanis, introduced by Thornton Wilder, translated by Sir Richard Jebb
  6. The Song of Songs which is Solomon’s, Palestine, printed in a scroll form
  7. “Literature of Ancient Egypt”, Egypt, printed at the Press of the French Institute of Archaeology, art taken from examples of ancient Egyptian artwork, edited by the Librarian of the National Museum in Cairo
  8. The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner, Basutoland (Lesotho), printed by Morija Printing Works, artist’s name not disclosed, binding to be bark from a native tree to the region*
  9. The Bhagavad-Gita, the Song Celestial, India, printed at the Times of India, seven Indian artists who are not disclosed, binding to be of gold cloth, translated by Sir Edwin Arnold
  10. The Ramayana, Siam
  11. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, Java
  12. We of the Never-Never, Australia
  13. Gaucho by Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (according to Wikipedia, the author never had a book by that name, but perhaps there was something in the works Macy knew of at the time that didn’t come to fruition?), Argentina
  14. The True History of Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz, Mexico, printed by Rafael Loera y Chavez, art by Miguel Covarrubias

That’s quite a list! The letter then goes on to explain that books would still be sent out from the USA (in the patriotic verbiage you might expect) interspersed between these 14 volumes. The goal was to have all of these sent out by October of 1941.

…and we all know the result of that! Nary a single one of these proposed books actually made it out as intended to the membership of the LEC, and the few that did manage to make it out certainly did not hit that hopeful 10/1941 end date. Of the entire catalog, The Old Wives’ Tale was the only one to cut it close, shipped out to subscribers in November of 1941 as detailed above. From there, The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico (a rebranded title from the prospectus!) by Diaz was mailed in October of 1942, also as planned. The next, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, showed the first signs that problems were severely hampering the original plan for this series. Instead of Daragnes, Warren Chappell was recruited to do the artwork and the book was printed in New York by Aldus Printers. It came out in January of 1943. The ML for that book goes into some of the tribulations regarding the creation of the book and the selection of Chappell, but fails to mention Daragnes whatsoever. Next came The Praise of Folly, but it was not from Holland as originally intended; Masereel and Van Krimpen were sidelined for Lynd Ward and The Mount Pleasant Press, and as noted earlier came out in February of 1943. And unlike Saint Anthony, nothing about the book’s original vision came out in the letter for it.

It ought to be clear that Macy’s dream had withered, most likely due to World War II. I can only imagine the disappointment he must have felt as the majority of the remaining books fell off of his publication radar. Of the 10 left on the prospectus, only Oedipus made it out in any sort of form as Macy intended, with Galanis’ artwork still included, in November of 1955. After George’s death in 1956, Helen Macy issued three other titles from the “Booklover’s Journey”, although I doubt little beyond the text matched up to her husband’s aspirations for two of them: Lord Jim in 1959 (with Lynd Ward again stepping in to produce artwork for it), and The Bhagavad-Gita in 1965 (art by Y. G. Srimati and still including Arnold as the translator). The Story of an African Farm in 1961 (with Paul Hograth’s art), however, did manage to achieve some level of success in matching up with Macy’s design as outlined in the letter. I’ll let Django6924 explain:

The fascinating Monthly Letter uploaded here also fails to mention the name of the printer/designer at the Morija Printing Works where the The Story of an African Farm was to be printed. That gentleman was Hans Schmoller and that same gentleman actually did design and print the book–25 years later and in England!

Per the ML for the 1961 edition, Herr Schmoller was a 21-year-old printer in 1938 when he wrote to George Macy, whose name he had seen in an issue of The Dolphin, introducing him to the Morija Printing Works of the Société des Missions Evangéliques de Paris in Basutoland, where he was in charge of the composing and monotype department. “The only printing office of any importance in a country the size of Switzerland with a staff of 32, all but two of them natives, printing books in 15 languages.” Macy’s suggested that Morija might want to print The Story of an African Farm for the LEC. The ML is oddly silent about whether Schmoller accepted the offer (if indeed he had the authority to make such a decision at his age), but the war intervened and by the time it was over, Schmoller had moved to England where he was Oliver Simon’s assistant at the Curwen Press. Macy located him and raised the question of The Story of an African Farm again, but again the ML doesn’t say whether Schmoller accepted (if he had the authority to do so). In 1949 Schmoller moved to Penguin Books and by 1961 was the head of the production department and one of the directors of Penguin. By now, Schmoller must have decided that he needed to write finis to the production of this book for the LEC (he was, incidentally, the designer of the LEC edition of Silas Marner back in 1953).

Although Macy did not live to see the edition, and although it wasn’t printed in Basutoland, and the illustrator was not a native of Basutoland but an Englishman, I believe George would have been pleased overall with the result — especially the tree-bark binding.

The remaining 6 titles faded into nothingness, never properly fulfilled in any fashion. Which is a shame, as they sound quite interesting indeed.

For Oedipus, we did get some explanation about the project and its overall failure in regards to that book, which I’m going to copy over from that post below:

[Oedipus] was going to join their “Booklover’s Tour of the World” plan that they had going at the time, with the book to be printed and illustrated in Greece to truly showcase its cultural style. The following month, Nazi Germany began their invasion of France, which led to Paris being taken in June. In the chaos that ensued, the Club lost contact with their printer, Kiron Theodoropoulos, and their illustrator, Demetrios Galanis. The Club had seen Galanis’ work in print form before the war kicked off, so they knew the work had been completed, but alas, it would be quite some time before the LEC were able to recontact their Greek collaborators. Luckily, both men were alive following the war’s aftermath, but the book was in dire straits. Over the war’s duration, vandals broke into Theodoropoulos’ press, the Pyrsos Press, and had destroyed the pages of type prepared for the book. The engravings were still intact, but their condition was no longer satisfactory. The Club wanted to see for themselves, and the American Embassy in Athens had become involved, sending an interested party to the Press to retrieve and ship the engravings to the Club. This occurred in 1953. Once in their hands, the engravings were deemed printable. The Club then decided that their lofty aborted plan of “The Booklover’s Tour of the World” was no longer limiting the book to be printed in Greece, so they turned to Jan van Krimpen in the Netherlands to design the book based on Galanis’ initial plans to have the Greek on one side and the English on the other.

So in the end Van Krimpen did get his chance to be a part of the series, although a long ways removed from reproducing a classic piece of Dutch literature!

So let’s spin back to the Heritage Press for a moment. The Heritage Press did publish their own Song of Songs back in 1935 (1500 of which are signed by artist Valenti Angelo!), so that particular title does have a Macy publication under its belt, even if the original intent for its LEC was lost. And we do somehow have the intended The Praise of Folly available as a Heritage edition, printed in Holland by Van Krimpen and featuring woodcuts by Masereel, issued as an exclusive. As I lack a Sandglass for the Heritage Praise, I can’t go into any specifics, but I imagine a similar situation took place a la Oedipus; Van Krimpen and/or Masereel were unable to fulfill the commission due to the war, and Macy had to audible in Ward to get the book out. However, as the war concluded, there was an opportunity to put out the proposed Praise, but with the LEC released not all that long ago Macy decided to instead publish it as a Heritage exclusive. That’s all speculation on my part, but it seems reasonable to assume.

Monthly Letter (source)

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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

Of Interest: The History of the Heritage “Great French Romances” series

May 15, 2014 Comments Off on Of Interest: The History of the Heritage “Great French Romances” series

My good friend Django6924 has written up a splendid little history on one of George Macy’s many attempts to create something unique with the Heritage Press: the “Great French Romances” series. I originally had this in my Gods Are A-Thrist post, but it really should be its own thing.This is mostly unedited (beyond one transition snip, the addition of the authors/artists of the original series, a appendix of the final series in chronological order, a few typo fixes, and my italicizing the book titles) from his original posts. So, without further adieu, I’ll let him take over (the original posting can be found here). Major thanks to Django for letting me host this excellent summary!

In 1938, Francis Meynell of the Nonesuch Press in England, of which George Macy became Managing Director in 1936, joined with a committee of French writers, who were chaired by Andre Maurois, to produce a series, “The Ten Great French Romances,” for Nonesuch. These would have a distinctive typographic plan and binding, designed by Meynell, and would illustrated by the “best French book illustrators,” as chosen by the committee. The books were, in order of planned publication:

Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde
Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Demetrios Galanis
Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost D’Exiles/Andre Dignimont
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David
A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan
The Gods are A-thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé

The typographic moulds were made in England, then sent to France for printing at the Inprimerie Protat Freres in Macon (home, incidentally, of an excellent burgundy), as the French had superior quality rag paper. The illustrations were first printed at Georges Duval in Paris by the collotype process, then hand-colored through the pochoir process by the studio of Beaufumé, also in Paris. It is not said where the characteristic binding of fleurs-de-lys patterned linen boards and buckram spine binding was done, but it was in France as well.

Between planning of the series, and the completion of the first two volumes, World War Two had begun. This not only complicated the production, but made it necessary to change plans. Since by this time it was obvious that more of the books would be sold through Heritage in the US, it was decided that all printing should henceforth take place in the US (again, remember that by this time George Macy was really running Nonesuch), though Meynell would continue to design the books in England. A quote from the Sandglass accompanying Dangerous Acquaintances and Candide gives an interesting insight into those nerve-wracking days:

“Transportation to England is difficult enough, transportation to America is far more difficult. Shipped in merchant vessels under convoy, the books have taken weeks to cross the ocean, weeks during which we at the Nonesuch Fellowship have often thought that they must surely be at the bottom of the ocean.”

The above was written in April 1940. In the same Sandglass, the outline for the series of Ten Great French Romances was given. Some interesting statements were:

“The binding of The Charterhouse of Parma will be green (mine is, in fact olive-green), the binding for The Gods are A-thirst will be yellow (mine and every copy I’ve seen is a more appropriate red), and each succeeding volume will be in a unique color.” (The ones I have seem to indicate that the “10 different colors” scheme was abandoned–also, Balzac’s Eugenie Grandet was published later with a green buckram spine and the green patterned fleurs-de-lys boards in the design established by Meynell).

“…Galanis has already finished his illustrations for The Charterhouse of Parma, Dignimont has finished his illustrations for Manon Lescaut, Hermine David has finished her illustrations for The Princess of Cleves, Mahn has finished his illustrations for Germinal, Legrand has finished his illustrations for A Woman’s Life, Brissaud is nearing completion of his illustrations for Madame Bovary, and Oberlé is nearing completion for his illustrations for The Gods are A-thirst.” (Not mentioned was the status of the remaining illustrations, those for Old Goriot by René ben Sussan.)

As a famous Frenchman once said, “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men, gang aft agley.” A letter To The Members OF THE HERITAGE CLUB dated April 10 announces that it will be “necessary for us to send both Dangerous Acquaintances and Candide to you in the same package”, in May, rather than in April and May successively. This was necessary because the head of the atelier doing the hand-coloring, M. Beaufumé, was suddenly called into the army and that it was then up to his wife and daughters to finish his work as well as their own.

The next book of the series, distributed in July, 1942 was entirely printed and bound in the US, The Gods Are A-thirst, for which Jean Oberlé did the illustrations and took them to London just ahead of the Occupation of Paris. The hand-coloring was done by Macy’s favorite pochoirist in the US at that time, Charlize Brakely.

The next book, A Woman’s Life, sent to subscribers in September, 1942, was again was done entirely in the US and again enlisted the services of Ms. Brakely. The illustrations were done by Edy Legrand, a Macy favorite who would later do the 2nd LEC Don Quixote, but who in 1942 had fled Paris for Fez in French Morocco. (Interestingly, the LEC would issue A Woman’s Life in 1952 with the same typographic plan, this time using the studio of Walter Fischer to do the pochoir hand coloring, one of the few times when an LEC in essence reissued the same book originally published by the Heritage Press using the same illustrations.)

In November of the same year, Heritage issued Germinal with b&w illustrations by Berthold Mahn, reproduced by photogravure. Frank Fortney at Russell-Rutter bound them in the fleurs-de-lys/buckram binding which matched the first two (and I assume the 3rd and 4th books, but although my copy of The Gods are A-thirst follows this design [albeit in red rather than the planned yellow], as does my Heritage copy of A Woman’s Life, I’m not sure my copies are the first Heritage editions). Things are getting a little strange by this time as the Sandglass for Germinal lists the Ten Great French Romances again, and lo, Manon Lescaut has dropped off the list and has been replaced by Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin! No explanation for this is given, but the obvious one is — the Heritage Press had already issued Manon Lescaut with a pigskin leather spine and marbled paper boards back in 1935 with illustrations by Brissaud (and with an original lithograph signed by Brissaud in the 1500 copies that were first offered to members of the LEC as a “collector’s item” when the Heritage Press was launched). And what of Dignimont’s “finished” illustrations for Manon as announced back in 1940? Never used anywhere, apparently, and perhaps destroyed during the war. One would love to see them, especially in light of the illustrations I saw once which Dignimont made for Pierre Louys’ Petites Scenes Amoureuses–which border on the pornographic, but in a most beautiful and Frenchified way. (Dignimont later did The Wanderer and The Moonstone for the LEC and Heritage Press.)

In January of 1943, Madame de Lafayette’s wonderful The Princess of Cleves is issued. Meynell planned the design and printed his specimen pages at the Fanfare Press before war broke out. The book features many beautiful illustrations by Hermine David, who after completing the illustrations in Paris just before the Occupation, “disappeared into a convent,” according to an earlier Sandglass. (She didn’t take orders, this was more of a retreat to a Benedictine abbey in Dourgne, near the southern French city of Toulouse, to where she returned many times until her death in 1970, seeking inspiration while doing her illustrations which became increasingly ones with religious subject matter.) The Princess of Cleves was letterpress-printed in New York at the printing house of Leo Hart, and once more the delicate hand-coloring was done at Charlize Brakely’s studio. The series binding of buckram and fleurs-de-lys was utilized. My copy is a light brown, and as far as I know this was the only printing of this particular work by Heritage or Nonesuch (and no LEC edition) until the Norwalk, CT incarnation of the Heritage Press issued it in 1970–not utilizing the series binding.

It is not until February, 1944 that the next Great Romance appears and it is, in fact, Theophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin. (Parenthetically, I have to say I can’t understand its omission from the original list as it is a much more compelling novel than Manon Lescaut.) By now the original plan announced in 1938 is really having difficulties–mostly due to the war. Mademoiselle de Maupin is not designed by Francis Meynell (who was probably spending a fair amount of time in 1942-1943 dodging into air raid shelters) but by American George Salter (who was born a German and whose design for the cover of Berlin Alexanderplatz in 1929 was a revelation in its time). The illustrations–and racy ones they are!–were by Andre Dugo, a French expatriate living in New York. The binding utilized the same pattern as the previous books, this time blue buckram and cream and blue fleurs-de-lys boards.

In September, 1949, Old Goriot, is finally published with René ben Sussan’s illustrations. The title page has The Heritage Press, New York & The Nonesuch Press, London, though the obverse side simply says “Printed in the United States of America.” There is no date of publication–an anomaly in the series. The Sandglass says M. ben Sussan “had a bad time, an altogether bad time” during the war, spending his time dodging the Nazis. His remarkable illustrations were reproduced from his B&W brush drawings via gravure, then the colors were applied, not by pochoir, but by hand cut rubber plates, one for each color. The rubber plates were done by Herbert Rau. Are they as good as hand-colored using stencils? I don’t know, but they are truly wonderful and match any of the hand-colored ones in the series. The series binding is used (only “Nonesuch” appears on the red buckram spine–not “Heritage”).

It isn’t until February, 1951 that Madame Bovary appears. I foolishly gave away my Heritage/Nonesuch edition when I acquired the LEC version which came out in April, 1950, so the information which follows comes from the LEC Monthly Letter. As you remember, Pierre Brissaud had elected to do Bovary and was “nearing completion” when the series was announced in 1940. The Monthly Letter continues:

“But by the time M. Brissaud finished his illustrations, the Nazis had marched into Paris and the Nonesuch Press had lost contact, with M. Brissaud on the one hand, and with us on the other. It was to us, at the headquarters of the Limited Editions Club in New York, that the Brissaud illustrations for Madame Bovary found their way; and it was we who, immediately after the war was over, found ourselves in Paris with those illustrations under our arm and the mission to have those illustrations reproduced in Paris, not for the Limited Editions Club, but for the Nonesuch Press.”

The Monthly Letter then goes on to say that discovering that the atelier of Théo Schmied had reopened in Paris, and M. Schmied had indicated his interest in printing the Brissaud illustrations through multiple wood engravings, that it was decided Bovary with the Brissaud illustrations reproduced through multiple wood engravings in color would be issued first as an LEC book, and it was. This was despite the fact that Madame Bovary had been previously issued by the LEC in 1938, with illustrations by Gunther Boehmer (I’ve never seen a copy of this edition). The Monthly Letter then adds a reassuring note:

“Now once this edition…is distributed to members of this Club, it will be followed by an unlimited edition (in which the illustrations will be reproduced in monochrome) to be included in that series called The Ten Great French Romances, for distribution by the Nonesuch Press in London, and for the Nonesuch Press, by the Heritage Club in New York.”

Meynell’s typographic plan was used for the LEC editon, and of course, for the unlimited edition, which, if memory serves me, had “Heritage” on the bright green buckram spine, with green fleurs-de-lys patterned boards, which indicates it was a later printing as the 1950 edition had “Nonesuch” on the spine, which was lavender. As I remember, my Heritage edition had the illustrations reproduced in color–not monochrome.

Stendahl’s The Charterhouse of Parma brought the series to a close in 1955. The series binding features “Heritage” on the olive-green buckram spine, and the title page doesn’t mention Nonesuch. The designer of the typographic plan isn’t specified in the Sandglass, though it looks very much like Meynell’s other designs. The illustrations are not by Galanis, but by Rafaello Busoni, who had won an international competition sponsored by the LEC in 1945 and on the basis of that had already illustrated Stendahl’s other novel The Red and the Black for the LEC. What happened to Galanis’ illustrations, which were already finished back in 1940? I haven’t found any evidence in my readings, but remembering that Galanis had been commissioned by the LEC before to illustrate Oedipus the King, and that those illustrations had come a cropper during the Occupation, it’s possible an identical fate befell the Stendahl illusrations. (If you are unfamiliar with the Galanis/Sophocles story, here is a link to WildcatJF’s excellent summary.

The Busoni illustrations are two-color lithographs and are actual lithographic prints. The type pages were composed by Leo Hart and printed by the Riverside Press. The binding was done by Frank Fortney.

The Herculean labor of completing this series must have been a relief to Macy, and probably a source of pride. These books are really wonderful and the best of them fully the equivalent of some of today’s limited fine press books.

The final list, then, is as follows:

Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage (1939, Heritage exclusive)
Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde (1940, Heritage exclusive)
The Gods are A-Thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé (1942, Heritage exclusive)
A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand (1942 Heritage printing, 1952 LEC edition available)
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn (1942, Heritage exclusive)
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David (1943, Heritage exclusive)
Mademoiselle de Maupin by Theodore Gautier/Andre Dugo (1943, LEC edition available)
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan (1948, LEC edition available)
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud (1950, LEC edition available)
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Rafaello Busoni (1955, LEC edition available)

UPDATE!

It’s recently been brought up that the Heritage Press issued a second Honore de Balzac work under the same design auspices of this series despite originally not being included on the list. Django6924 once again is the source of the below info:

Unlike the other books in the series, Eugenie Grandet was not on the original pre-WWII slate of Ten Great French Romances (the Balzac representative being Old Goriot under Meynell’s master plan). Now this plan changed early on, but Eugenie was never one of the group, and the HP edition is, in this case, a reprint of the LEC (also designed by Meynell). I suppose that in the post-George Macy period, it was felt that putting the HP reprint in the same series binding would encourage those who had some or all of the others to want to extend the collection, as you mentioned.

The HP Eugenie is a fine addition to the series, although it doesn’t feature any hand-colored illustrations like the original group; to the best of my memory, the colors applied via hand-cut rubber plates were excellent. I prefer the fleur-de-lys binding of the HP to the LEC’s khaki-colored buckram with black-leather labels made to resemble some sort of medieval-esque binding hinges. The true superiority of the LEC is in the paper, a thick, rich paper that must be 100% rag; I say “must be” because the Monthly Letter doesn’t mention a word about the paper.

Thanks once again!

Of Interest – Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, as issued by Random House (1943)

August 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

I’m quite pleased to be share what I think is one of the treasures of my non-Macy book collection today: the Random House issuing of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, released in 1943. The star of the show is Fritz Eichenberg, who once again produces masterpieces of wood engraving to grace the texts of Emily and Charlotte Bronte, respectively. Why George Macy never negotiated to release fancy LEC editions of these exquisite renditions is beyond me; I’m still stumped as to why the Bronte sisters never had LEC editions in the various Macy’s tenure (or under Cardevon Press’ eye, for that matter). Sid Shiff would resurrect Balthus’ Wuthering Heights illustrations for his own edition in 1993, giving at least one sister the literary credence she deserved; Chris over at Books & Vines has a thorough post on that edition. Perhaps Macy wasn’t too big on the Brontes. Personally, I’m sad that Anne Bronte tends to be forgotten in these special sets…but that’s neither here nor there.

The Heritage Press did issue these two books with art from Barrett Freedman, but in my humble opinion Freedman is outclassed handily by Eichenberg’s amazing artwork. I’ll try to check out the two HP titles for comparison some time. At any rate, these books were designed by Richard Ellis (who I just rambled about for The Ambassadors), using Monotype Bodoni for the font (with long descenders). Kingsport Press composed the text, and H. Wolff Book Manufacturing Company handled both printing and bindery duties. Eichenberg’s engravings were printed via letter press from electrotypes of the originals. If only all of these non-Macy books were so upfront about their publication details!

Let’s start with Wuthering Heights.

whrh-binding

Front Binding

whrh-title

Title Page

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

Now let’s spotlight Jane Eyre:

jerh-binding

Front Binding

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Title

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

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Spines of both books; slipcase is green.

I’m being a little less talky on this post due to time; I’ve got a lot of other things to do today, but I think it’s fairly clear that I love these two books and they come highly recommended!

Of Interest: A Smattering of Non-Macy Books with LEC Illustrators #1

August 12, 2013 Comments Off on Of Interest: A Smattering of Non-Macy Books with LEC Illustrators #1

Hello all! Today I will be sharing five (!) books with you. These are non-Macy editions of several classic works, illustrated by some of the more prominent LEC illustrators. Three will be debuting today: Eric Gill, Boardman Robinson and Edward A. Wilson. The remaining two feature artists I’ve recently covered on the blog, Fritz Eichenberg and William Sharp. These are not my books; my good friend Lois was kind enough to let me borrow them to photograph them. Unfortunately, most of these are reprints of Random House or Doubleday editions, so I do not have designer info for them. With that in mind, I’ll be quickly summarizing their attributes, offering a brief opinion, and providing images for them. With that, let’s begin!

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg, translated by Constance Garnett, published by Garden City Publishing Co. in 1948 from the 1944 Doubleday edition.

Eichenberg does not utilize the engraver’s tools for this commission; instead, he goes with his linework, and it’s a good match. I do greatly prefer his wood and stone cuts, but I think his penmanship is also pretty spectacular. Compare this to Freedman’s LEC/Heritage take.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, illustrated by William Sharp, published by Garden City Publishing Co. in 1948 from the 1944 Doubleday edition.

Sharp takes on Collins’ famous novel with a combination of his styles used for the Macy editions of Tales of Mystery and Imagination and the biographical works of Rousseau and Pepys here. There are full page illustrations that remind me of the Poe commission, as well as many supplementary in-text drawings a la the biographies. There’s some astounding stuff in here, I must say. I haven’t seen Dignimont’s spin for the LEC, but I have covered his work for The Wanderer.

Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Edward A. Wilson, introduced by Henry Seidel Canby, published by Doubleday in 1947

This may be some of Wilson’s best work I’ve personally seen. Of course, I’ve yet to share any of his Macy contributions with you, but I plan on remedying that when I get the time. Excellent printing, too! Wilson did too many LEC and Heritage books to list here, but I’ll include three that I own for reference; Treasure Island, Westward Ho! and A Journey to the Center of the Earth. The LEC edition was illustrated by Boyd Hanna.

Troilus and Cressida by Geoffrey Chaucer, illustrated by Eric Gill, translated by George Philip Krapp, printed by the Literary Guild in 1932 from the 1932 Random House edition.

Gill does a rather fine job here if you ask me. His woodcuts evoke the essence of the work of Chaucer quite well, and they embellish every page. There’s a few full-size pieces, too. I’d like to see the Random House issuing! Gill did the original LEC Hamlet and A Sentimental Journey of France and Italy. The LEC Troilus lacks conventional illustration, but is decorated by George W. Jones.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, illustrated by Boardman Robinson, translated by Constance Garnett, published by Halcyon House in 1940 from the 1933 Random House edition.

I must admit that Robinson does not do much for me. His style clashes with my personal tastes. I’ve seen his LEC commission for Spoon River Anthology (a tragic copy that was overpriced for its shoddy condition, despite author Edgar Lee Masters contributing his signature) and despite being a big fan of the work, his art doesn’t really mesh with me. He also did the LEC Moby Dick. Contrast this to the two Macy editions of Karamazov.

Of Interest: Random House’s Edition of Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination

August 10, 2013 Comments Off on Of Interest: Random House’s Edition of Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination

The second “Outside the Macy Sphere” book post is on Random House’s exquisite 1944 issuing of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, here simply titled Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. While the mystery and imagination have been exorcised from the title here, Fritz Eichenberg did his best through his woodcuts here to represent those fantastical notions. H. Wolff Book Manufacturing Company of New York printed up the work, and Margaret B. Evans served as the designer.

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Front Binding – This is a nice, medium-sized book that was originally issued with a light blue slipcase, featuring a nice cerulean (if I’m mistaken, I apologize; I’m unfortunately quite familiar with the Crayola color wheel :0 ) fabric with black and gold stamps for the spine (as you’ll see below).

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Spine

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Title Page – Harvey Allen introduces the work, and, of course, Mr. Eichenberg serves up several woodcut illustrations that spice up most of the tales. He did one per tale from what I’ve noticed. Unfortunately, I do not have as many crisp shots as I would like for this post; only four of the six turned out really well, so I’ll likely add in a couple more whenever I photograph more books in the future.

Example Woodcuts by Eichenberg (right click to enlarge):

For contrast with the Macy publication, see here. Out of the two, I think both William Sharp and Eichenberg bring a chilling tone to their artwork in their own ways. I am quite fond of Eichenberg, as is well stated throughout this blog, but I feel Sharp also grasped the underlying terror and darkness swirling about Poe’s stories. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either edition!

Of Interest: LEC Posts by other Macy Devotees

July 15, 2013 Comments Off on Of Interest: LEC Posts by other Macy Devotees

I’m foreseeing a busy week in front of me, so I’m not sure if I can crank out any more elaborate posts until this weekend. In the meantime, several of the other Devotees at LibraryThing have been spotlighting LEC editions lately, and I thought I’d spotlight their work in replacement for a lack of activity here.

1) tag83, aka Tony Geer, has a great post on the LEC Treasure Island illustrated by longtime Macy alum Edward A. Wilson (who I’ll get around to soon!) at The Book Blog.

2) At The Whole Book Experience, J. Davis details out the lovely LEC edition of Jurgen, featuring the artistic chops of Virgil Burnett.

3) Lastly, Nick Long at his blog Ephemeral Pursuits goes after Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire‘s LEC printing, featuring etchings by Gian Battista Piranesi.

Enjoy all of these excellent, thorough reports on some lovely books!

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