January 6, 2013 § 2 Comments
My favorite book shop closed its doors last year, and I mentioned that I would devote a special post to its memory. Well, this is that post. I’ve since discovered that another gentleman, a Mr. Matthew Sundt, has purchased the business and rechristened it Old Captiol Books, so I’m pleased to hear that the store’s core remains. However, I still want to devote space to giving Book Haven a proper eulogy.
Book Haven was a magical place. It was the realization of the perfect dream bookshop for me. Tons upon tons of books, many classics, many Heritage Press and Limited Editions Club titles, and super-friendly proprietors. It was a delight to step inside and experience the wonder of books. It was where I purchased my very first LEC, Man and Superman. I would go on to purchase The House of the Dead, The Oresteia, Three Men in a Boat, The Three-Cornered Hat, Saint-Simon’s Memoirs, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Twenty Years After. All had the same number, #403, which I think is pretty nifty. Hopefully, Old Capitol is still selling some of the remaining stock so I can continue to expand upon those.
Heritage Press books were a huge part of the store’s classic inventory, and I ran off with many of their better selections, including the original issuing of Manon Lescaut. Along with that, my Heritage collection from Book Haven included Resurrection, The Nibelungenlied, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Elegy Written from a Country Churchyard, The Birds and the Frogs, The House of Seven Gables, The Possessed, A Journal of a Plague Year, and The Ambassadors. I also got my Heritage Saint-Simon from them. Their prices were quite reasonable, $10 – 15 for a book, depending on condition and completeness.
The owners were a delight to discuss books with, too. We had a few really amazing conversations about their LEC history (including hearing about the lovely Fahrenheit 451), and they were kind enough to help us out when another local bookshop’s buyer was absent on a trip, taking a look at our books and giving us money for some of them with little warning.
So, while the shop lives on as Old Captiol, the memories of Book Haven will always be ingrained in my mind. I wish prior owners Guy Rodriguez and Jerry Welling the best in their retirement, and look forward to checking out the new shop to see how Mr. Sundt runs his business.
October 1, 2012 § 3 Comments
Fellow Macy Devotee and book lover Chris Adamson (aka busywine) has done a wondrously thorough, enriching and illuminating post on the complete LEC Shakespeare set issued in 1941 at his Books & Vines blog. Pictures of all of the 37 plays and the two Poems/Sonnets that came the year after are included, and it’s the best way I can recommend getting an idea of how exquisite these books truly are. With my odds of landing that set slim at best for a few years, I will suggest this post to everyone if asked about this set. Check it out!
July 7, 2012 Comments Off on Of Interest: Fritz Eichenberg’s Conceptual Work
Fritz Eichenberg is one of my favorite illustrators, and today I wanted to share with you some of his “behind-the-scenes” material included in his marvelous collection of woodcuts and lithographs, The Wood and the Graver. This is a must for fans of Eichenberg, as it includes personal recollections of most of his LEC and Heritage Press output, plus a generous smattering of his exquisite art from the George Macy Company and beyond. I’ll share some of his memories with you at a later date, but for now, enjoy the pictures. :)
This shot may look familiar to anyone who has seen Eichenberg’s Crime and Punishment Heritage or LEC. This is a posed shot Eichenberg did of himself in order to aid capturing the tense moment seen on the title page in both books. Here’s the finished product:
While we’re talking about this engraving, here’s a glimpse into the carving process:
This gives you the briefest understanding of the time and dedication it takes to be a wood engraver. The text expands upon that significantly. How about some sketchwork? Since we’ve been discussing Crime and Punishment, we’ll begin there:
The final woodcut appears on page 250 of the Heritage and Page 323 in the LEC.
This comes from The Idiot, but I do not know the page number right off hand. It’s like the one Dostoevsky I don’t have. XD
This too is from The Idiot.
The last sketch I have for you now is from the Heritage Gulliver’s Travels. Alas, I can’t aid you with a page number here, either.
The last two pieces are not conceptual, but are actually variants of art seen in The Brothers Karamazov. At the same time, Eichenberg had a commission for another Dostoevsky work for an alternate publisher, The Grand Inquisitor. Unlike Karamazov, which used stone lithographs, he did Inquisitor with wood engravings. I can do a comparison of one of them at the moment, and I’ll see about eventually refreshing the post with the final version of all of these sketches once I have The Idiot and Gulliver’s Travels in my possession. (There is a Dostoevsky pun there). Anyway!
And the other:
Hope you enjoyed this peek into Eichenberg’s creation process!
July 6, 2012 Comments Off on Of Interest: ABEBooks Spotlights the Limited Editions Club
A nice little clip detailing out a slew of pictures of many LEC’s, plus mostly accurate information from ABEBooks’ Richard Davies. Funny story: I had to talk to Davies once to find out their customer service number for my first bookstore gig, which he was kind enough to give yet was a bit annoyed that he had to do it (he asked me not to call that number again :p ). Having irate bosses makes time of the essence, so I apologize for bothering you. Anyway, check it out if you want to see a nice scope of LEC’s under two minutes. Tip to featherwate at the George Macy Devotees.
April 29, 2012 Comments Off on Of Interest – The Illustrators of the LEC Shakespeare
While I’ve yet to cover most of the exquisite LEC Shakespeares, I’ve had a devil of a time trying to find a complete list of the illustrators for the 39 volume set. Well, I’m happy to present to you that very coveted list, in a typed form, so that it’ll be available to LEC collectors looking for books from their favorite illustrators. All of the books were designed by Bruce Rogers.
All’s Well that Ends Well – Drawings by Richard Floethe, printed in color by A. Colish
Antony and Cleopatra – Wood engravings by Enric-Cristobal Ricart, pulled by R.& R. Clark and hand-colored by Jean Saude
As You Like It – Watercolors by Sylvain Sauvage, hand-colored by Mourlot Freres
The Comedy of Errors – Wood engravings by John Austen, pulled and printed in 5 colors by R.& R. Clark
Coriolanus – Tempura paintings by C. Pal Molnar, lithographed in 15 colors by Mourlot Freres
Cymbeline – Lithographs by Yngve Berg, pulled by the Curwen Press
Hamlet – Dry-brush drawings by Edy Legrand, printed in collotype/black/gray by Georges Duval
Henry the Fourth Part I – Color lithographs by Barnett Freedman, pulled by the Curwen Press
Henry the Fourth Part II – Watercolors by Edward Bawden, hand-colored by Jean Saude and printed in collotype by Georges Duval
Henry the Fifth – Pencil drawings by Vera Willoughby, lithographed by Mourlot Freres
Henry the Sixth Part I – Lithographs by Graham Sutherland, pulled by the Curwen Press
Henry the Sixth Part II – Lithographs by Carlotta Petrina, pulled by George C. Miller
Henry the Sixth Part III – Colored line drawings by Jean Charlot, printed in 3 colors by A. Colish
Henry the Eighth – Wood engravings by Eric Gill, pulled by A. Colish
Julius Caesar – Wood engravings by Frans Masereel, pulled by A. Colish
King John – Line drawings in three colors plus gold by Valenti Angelo, printed by A. Colish
King Lear – Brush drawings by Boardman Robinson, printed in collotype in black/2 grays by Georges Duval
Love’s Labour Lost – Crayon and wash drawings by Mariette Lydis, printed in collotype in black/gray by Georges Duval
Macbeth – Color drawings by Gordon Craig, lithographed by Mourlot Freres
Measure for Measure – Color lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag, pulled by Mourlot Freres
The Merchant of Venice – Watercolors by Rene ben Sussan, printed by both Mourlot Freres and Georges Duval, hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume
The Merry Wives of Windsor – Color drawings by Gordon Ross, printed in collotype in black and sanguine by Georges Duval, then hand-colored (does not state by whom…Ross, maybe?)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Watercolors by Arthur Rackham, lithographed in 4 colors by Mourlot Freres, hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume
Much Ado About Nothing – Watercolors by Fritz Kredel, printed in collotype by Georges Duval and hand-colored by Jean Saude
Othello – Wood engravings by Robert Gibbings, pulled by A. Colish
Pericles, Prince of Tyre – Wood engravings by Stanislas Ostoja-Chrostowski, pulled by A. Colish
Richard the Second – Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker, pulled by A. Colish
Richard the Third – Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg, pulled by George C. Miller
Romeo and Juliet – Color line drawings by Ervine Metzl, printed in 2 colors by A. Colish
The Taming of the Shrew – Line drawings by W.A. Dwiggins, printed in sanguine by A. Colish
The Tempest -Watercolors by Edward A. Wilson, printed by both Georges Duval (collotype) and Mourlot Freres (2 colors), hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume
Timon of Athens – Wood engravings by George Buday, pulled by A. Colish
Titus Andronicus – Watercolors by Nikolai Fyodorovitch Lapshin, lithographed by Mourlot Freres
Troilus and Cressida – Wood engravings by Demetrius Galanis, pulled in black/terra cotta by Dehon et Cie
Twelfth Night, or What You Will – Watercolors by Francesco Carnevali, lithographed by Mourlot Freres
The Two Gentlemen of Verona – Watercolors by Pierre Brissaud, printed in collotype (key gray) by Georges Duval and hand-colored (not stated, Brissaud, perhaps?)
The Winter’s Tale – Drawings by Albert Rutherson, hand-colored by Jean Saude and printed in key-black by the Curwen Press
Note that this set is completely unsigned, so that bit of novelty is lost. However, a set of Shakespeare’s poetry followed the release of the plays. They were deliberately matched to the binding style of the rest, and this one is signed by Rogers. Hope this list aids you somehow or another!
October 13, 2011 Comments Off on Of Interest – Status of the Limited Editions Club
As fans of the LEC are probably aware, owner Sidney Shiff passed away last year and his wife Jeanne had taken on the mantle of the Club. After a year of silence, fellow collector busywine (who runs the Books and Vines blog I link to) was able to contact Shiff and scheduled an interview/book tour with her, and the results of that are here (with more posts on the books to come). One key thing busywine inquired about was the future of the LEC and if Shiff would continue her husband’s fine press book series onward – alas, the answer to that is no. She explains that the overhead for making such exquisite books is too great nowadays, and figures that the time has come to put the Club to rest. She’s not giving up the LEC completely, though, as she is working on a proper webpage for the Club (which it has never had) that will document Mr. Shiff’s era of the Club, offer up copies of Shiff’s remaining LEC’s to the public, among other plans. It’s a shame to see George Macy’s dream end conclusively after a 82 year run under a few different ownerships, but I understand Shiff’s decision to close it up for good.
That being said, busywine will be sharing a ton of the Shiff-era books at his site in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for them – I doubt (unless I get rich suddenly) I’ll have the good fortune of handling any myself.
September 24, 2011 § 3 Comments
Very much overshadowed by the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press is George Macy’s third venture into book publishing under his George Macy Company umbrella – The Readers Club. What you are about to read is compiled from many tidbits of information scattered about the web, and the sources will be at the end.
First of all, courtesy of olepuppy at the George Macy Devotees is this meaty bit of information:
A History of Book Publishing in the United States,vol. III, The Golden Age Between Two Wars, 1920-1940 contains several paragraphs about George Macy with references and anecdotes. One paragraph p.504 relates to the Readers Club:
“In March 1941, Macy inaugurated his third venture, the Readers Club, a dollar reprint operation designed to give buyers books that Macy thought had never won the popularity they deserved. Again, other publishers for the most part found little merit in this idea, but Macy persuaded Sinclair Lewis, Clifton Fadiman, Carl Van Doren, and Alexander Woollcott to constitute his board of judges, and on the strength of these names as well as the books they selected, and with the further help of Macy’s high-powered advertising, 140,000 members were enrolled in the first six months. The first selection, E. H. Young’s ‘WILLIAM’, went to 40,000 subscribers. Later choices went as high as an 84,000-member acceptance. As an innovation in book club mechanics, Macy gave his judges one-cent-a-copy royalty for every volume sold.”
From that base, let’s fill in some of the gaps. Woollcott served as the executive chairperson. It would seem that the Club printed 45 individual volumes within its timeline (which, alas, I do not know when it met its end – I’d wager 1943, the last year I have in my checklist below). I do not know with any certainty if letters of some sort or a slipcase were issued with these books – the two I have seen do not have either. They did come with dust jackets judging by this particular copy of The Last Frontier. The books are bound in a somewhat plain fashion, with a “Readers Club” logo on the front and a more elegant spine with a “RC” featured somewhere. The judges provided the forewords to the majority of the titles – Sinclair Lewis for example did the honors for The Days of the King and The History of Mr. Polly. This fact is prominent on the spines and dustjackets of the books I’ve seen. Below is a list that I’ve compiled on the books printed (title followed by author, illustrator [if applicable], the provider of the foreword and year):
William by E.H. Young/?/Carl Van Doren/1941
The History of Mr. Polly by H.G. Wells/?/Sinclair Lewis/1941
The Last Frontier by Howard Fast/?/Carl Van Doren/1941
The Murderer’s Companion by William Roughead/?/Alexander Woollcott/1941
Twelve Against the Gods: The Story of Adventure by William Bolitho/?/Alexander Woollcott/1941
The Fortunes of Richard Mahony: Australia Felix, The Way Home, Ultima Thule by Henry Handel Richardson/?/Sinclair Lewis/1941
The Asiatics by Frederic Prokosch/?/Carl Van Doren/1941
The Days of the King by Bruno Frank/Adolf von Menzel/Sinclair Lewis/1942
Charles Dickens, The Last of the Great Men by G.K. Chesterton/?/Alexander Woollcott/1942
Anel Pavement by J.B. Priestly/?/Sinclair Lewis/1942
Henry Ward Beecher: An American Portrait by Paxton Hibben/?/Sinclair Lewis/1942
Billy Budd, Benito Cereno and the Enchanted Isles: Three Shorter Novels by the Author of Moby Dick by Herman Melville/?/Carl Van Doren/1942
Rendezvous and Other Long & Short Stories About Our Navy in Action by Alec Hudson/?/Carl Van Doren/1943
Tommy and Grizel by J.M. Barrie/?/Clinton Fadiman/1943
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev/Fritz Eichenberg/Sinclair Lewis/1943 (Heritage Reprint)
The Golden Violet: The Story of a Lady Novelist by Joseph Shearing (Majorie Bowen)/?/Sinclair Lewis/1943
The Young Melbourne by Lord David Cecil/?/Carl Van Doren/1943
Note that this is by no means definitive – I’ve picked what I can from the internet, but any additional insights would be very welcome. I have a special thread at the George Macy Devotees seeking info on the Reader’s Club – drop me a line there or leave me comments here.
Now, since this is an arm of the George Macy Company, I will document books as I stumble upon them here, but I do not plan on making them a part of my personal collection. They are a little too plain for my taste. Expect The Days of the King sometime in the near future.