Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – The Song of Roland (1938)

The Song of Roland (1938)
LEC #102/9th Series, V. 7 in 1938
Sandglass Number VIII: 19
Artwork: Decorations by Valenti Angelo
Translated from the French into English by Charles Scott Moncrieff, and Edited and Introduced by Hamish Miles
#611 of 1500
Heritage Press reprinted this edition, both compared below.

Click images to see larger views. LEC on top, Heritage on Bottom.

Front Binding – The Song of Roland is a classic retelling of the epic battle between France and Spain (or, to be more specific, Charlemagne’s forces against the Saracens), originally composed in French by an anonymous poet. The George Macy Company was quite taken with the idea of attempting to recapture the era when this confrontation took place, and decided to have well-regarded illumination expert and illustrator (not to mention frequent LEC/Heritage Press artist) Valenti Angelo take the reins of trying to get the essence of an illuminated manuscript of the event done up in printed form. Angelo, of course, was up to the task, having done incredible work on the Heritage Salome and The Song of Songs by this point, as well as the LEC/HP edition of Elizabeth Browning’s Songs of the Portuguese. Clearly Angelo was quickly becoming a Club favorite and with good reason.

Now let’s look at the binding more closely:

Angelo was responsible for the binding design, and his charming handiwork gives it a strong centerpiece that really pops. The Heritage edition makes a valiant effort to replicate it; the white leather with gold leaf decoration was replaced with yellow cloth with blue decorations, and the fabric is a little less luxurious, but overall it’s a fairly good recreation. And his interior illustrations are perfect for this text. Angelo’s Macy bibliography can be found in our Salome post. Both editions I’ve owned are library editions, so they’ve seen some sunning over the years.

Design Notes – For this book, Angelo would split the designing task with printer Edmund B. Thompson of Windham, Connecticut. Angelo would do the art and hand-illuminate the decorations with gold, as well as design the binding, while Thompson would choose the type, set it by hand and have it printed. The Quarto goes into a little more detail:

For the Heritage reprint, details can be found in the Sandglass below.


Sadly, I don’t have a slipcase for this edition.

Title Page – Now we start seeing some of the major differences between these editions. The LEC features Angelo’s decadent hand-illuminations far more frequently, while the Heritage merely had some of these illuminations redone via silk screen application. The title font for the Heritage is a deep gold ink, but it’s difficult to make out here.

Charles Scott Moncrieff was the original translator of the French poem; Hamish Miles provides some editing alongside an introduction.

Colophon – Angelo provides his signature, and this is #611 of 1500.

Page 3 – Here’s a quick summary of Angelo’s decoration creation process. Angelo began with the basic black outline of his art, which he then embellished with inks of alternative colors: blue, green, and red. He then hand-illuminated each illustration with gold (which, again, is was applied much more thoroughly in the LEC edition). Angelo deliberately wanted to use dynamic and striking colors to recreate the feeling of medieval manuscripts, so he chose vivid inks that would be intense on the page. Very classy work. The Heritage may lose some of the hand-illumination, but does apply some changes to the design to try to make up for it. The first letter is done up in gold, and the stanza numbers are now in red both as the section headers and each set of lines.

Also of note, The Song of Roland is omitted from the Heritage reprint for some reason.

Page 27 – It looks like the line count on the left may be omitted on the Heritage edition? I no longer have it to check, but if I see it again I’ll doublecheck.

Page 84 (Heritage)

Page 127 (LEC)

Personal Notes – I originally got the Heritage edition for $1.00 from the anthropology club book sale at my old community college, and the LEC came into my hands courtesy of my delightful fan who continues to pass along books for me to review. Much appreciated!


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

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

Click images for a larger view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example Illustration – More mastery. I think I need this.

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

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

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

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

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

Some production details, then. France’s text and Cameron’s drawings were reproduced through electroplates and photographs, respectively. The Photogravure and Color Company handled Cameron’s side of the equation. Joseph Blumenthal was the designer of this edition, who also had personally designed the font chosen for the work, Emerson. It is called that due to Blumenthal’s choice to use it to print Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essay on Nature. Designer buffs will want to peruse this Sandglass, as it goes into Mr. Blumenthal’s career in very extensive depth. The Stratford Press handled the printing of the text. The bindery is suspiciously absent.


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

Book 1: The Beginnings

Page 30 – Cameron’s linework is exquisite. France is doubly lucky to have two fine illustrators render his work so delightfully for one publishing house.

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


Heritage Press – Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1938)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1938, two volumes)
Sandglass Number III & IV: 25
Artwork: Illustrations by Lynd Ward
Translated by Lascelles Wraxall, Introduced by Andre Maurois
Reprint of LEC #108, 10th Series, V. 2 in 1938 in five volumes.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Bindings – Les Miserables is arguably Victor Hugo’s most enduring work. In his native France he was celebrated for his dramas and poetry on top of his literature output, even considered France’s grandest poet! However, outside of France his novels are what he is remembered for. Along with The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Les Miserables made Hugo an international literary icon. George Macy seemed to think highly of Hugo, as these two seminal works were printed rather early on in the LEC timeline. Hunchback was actually printed twice before Macy’s passing in 1956, both times as Notre-Dame de Paris. The first was in 1930, the first book in the second series, with Frans Masereel doing the artistic honors. This book is sort of infamous in the Macy canon, as Bill Majure explains:

Originally issued European style, bound in paper wraps. But when many subscribers complained about the paper bindings, the publisher rebound most copies in hardcover.

The second was less notorious when it was released in 1955, and Bernard Lamotte did the artistic honors. Les Miserables was a five volume LEC in 1938, and I’ll be sharing the two volume Heritage reprint with you shortly. After Macy’s death, Helen Macy commissioned The Toilers of the Sea in 1960, with Tranquillo Marangoni doing the artwork. Cardevon would revisit Les Miserables in 1977, plucking The Battle of Waterloo from its pages for a standalone title with Edouard Detaille’s art. Not many people had two major works done twice in the LEC, so Hugo is a bit special in that regard.

Les Miserables was rendered artistically by Lynd Ward, one of the more productive contributors to the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press. His LEC output is as follows:

Reade, Charles, The Cloister and the Hearth, 1932.
Hugo, Victor, Les Miserables, 1938.
Dumas, Alexandre, The Count of Monte Cristo, 1941.
Hemingway, Ernest, For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1942.
Erasmus, Desiderius, In Praise of Folly, 1943.
Hughes, Richard, The Innocent Voyage, 1944.
Beowulf, 1952.
Tennyson, Alfred Lord, Idylls of the King, 1952.
Conrad, Joseph, Lord Jim, 1959.
Paine, Thomas, Rights of Man, 1961.
Stevenson, Robert Louis, The Master of Ballantrae, 1965.
Jefferson, Thomas, Writings of, 1967.
Burke, Edmund, On Conciliation with America and Other Papers on the American Revolution, 1975.

He also did Gargantua and Pantagruel (1942) and Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend (1957) for the Heritage Press. For this particular book, he did over 500 individual illustrations! Most of them are rather small, but I’ve included some of the larger ones to marvel over. The book was designed by Peter Beilenson (Django6924 confirms Beilenson also handled the LEC. He was the designer/owner of the Peter Pauper Press, for those curious about such things. Thanks Robert!). Granjon is the font of choice here. There’s a good chunk of the third page in the Sandglass devoted to the history of Garamond, a related font to the one chosen. Duenewald Printing Corporation handled the printing duties, putting their ink upon specially made paper supplied by Crocker-Burbank. Arnold Bank was responsible for the binding design of the spines (or backstrip, as the Sandglass refers to them). Russell-Rutter was the bindery.

My edition of the work has seen some sun strip away the first volume’s red blaze, rendering it into more of a dull pink. The blue on Volume 2 is still strong, though. You’ll see the sad state of my Volume 1 below.


Slipcase – Both books are in black slipcases.

Title Page – Lascelles Wraxall (not the most common name) did the honors of translation, which his friend Hugo readily ratified. Andre Maurois, well-known biographer of the time (probably best known for Disraeli), supplies a new introduction.

Fantine – Ward’s smaller sketches are nice and all, but these book dividers are among his finest work. It’s easy to see why he was commissioned so often.


Personal Notes – This was part of my early haul from the Oakhurst Library in 2008 or so. I paid $2 per book! Ah, I love that library. Half if not more of my collection has come from there, and I’ve gotten some insane deals. :)


Limited Editions Club – Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1938/1948)

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1938 Heritage/1948 LEC)
Sandglass Number 6BR
Artwork – Wood Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garrett, introduced by Lawrence Irving
Heritage Press original, reprinted as LEC #189/18th Series V. 4 in 1948
LEC #1500 of 1500

Note – I have added the Monthly Letter from the LEC edition to the post, but have not put in those details into the post yet. It will happen in time.

Click the images for larger views.  Heritage will be on top, LEC on bottom.

Front Bindings – Crime and Punishment is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s most legendary work, and it has been ravishingly designed for both its Heritage and LEC editions.  Occasionally the Heritage Press would have their edition come out first, with a LEC two-volume reprint following that – this is another example of this (Moll Flanders and Beowulf are two others I know of).  Both went with a striking red for its boards, with a black block inlay of a cross and axe done by the book’s illustrator Fritz Eichenberg.  This was, to my knowledge, Eichenberg’s very first commission for the George Macy Company, and it wouldn’t be his last.  In fact, he would illustrate books for the LEC until 1986, when his last work, The Diary of a Country Priest, would be released by Sidney Shiff’s Limited Editions Club.  Almost 50 years of illustrating magic!  As of right now, I’ve got two other books up with Eichenberg’s work for those curious to see more – the LEC House of the Dead, also by Dostoevsky, and the Heritage Eugene Onegin by Pushkin.

The Heritage original was designed by Carl Purington Rollins, the printer at Yale University in 1938.  kdweber at Librarything was nice enough to pass along the LEC design info:

The LEC Crime and Punishment was designed by George Macy himself. Printed by E. L. Hildreth and Company; set in linotype Original Old Style, Worthy special paper; bound by Russell-Rutter Company.

Russell-Rutter did the binding for the Heritage as well.

Slipcase – The Heritage went black, the LEC went red.  Oddly, there’s no label or printing on the LEC slipcase indicating what it is, which is a little weird.  Maybe I’m missing a interior case.

Title Page – The Heritage and LEC title pages are radically different in structure, and I musy admit a preference to the LEC in this case – the use of color makes it pop more, and I like Eichenberg’s cross by the title.  Goudy Modern is the font chosen by Rollins for the Heritage, while the LEC was “set in linotype Original Old Style”, to quote kdweber.  To wrap up the Heritage printing information, Ferris Printing did the etching/text printing honors on Crocker-Burbank Co. paper made especially for the Heritage original.  George Macy went with the popular Constance Garrett translation, and Laurence Irving provides an introduction to both volumes (the Heritage omits mentioning him for some reason).

Signature Page – I must admit to being a little tickled at having #1500 for this book.  Eichenberg’s signature is nice, too, as I adore his work.  Eichenberg’s wood blocks were reused for the LEC edition by George Macy’s own printers, which is pretty neat.

Page 1/Part One Introduction – More stylistic diversions here, as the Heritage begins Part 1 with the first Chapter on the same page, but the LEC makes a special introductory page for Part 1, and then starts Chapter 1 on the next page.

Page 18/Page 17 – Eichenberg, you don’t fail to astound me.

Personal Notes – I bought the Heritage first at a library book sale in Oakhurst in 2009 or so, with a bevy of other books in what was my best haul at the time (I just topped it a couple weeks back).  I paid $3 – 4 for it, I think…may have been $2.  Not bad for a complete Heritage book.  I got the LEC this past May from my former anthropology instructor, who won it at a local auction and asked me if I wanted it.  That was a silly question.  I owe him $50 for it whenever I can get it to him.  I prefer the LEC, but both are excellent books!

Monthly Letter:


Heritage Press: The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1938)

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1938)
Sandglass Number XII: 26
Artwork: Paintings and drawings by Gordon Ross
Introduction by John T. Winterich

Part of the Heritage Dickens series (distinction of the Heritage Press); the LEC did their own 2-volume Pickwick Papers in 1933 with John Austen’s illustrations.

Front Binding – All of the Dickens books initially put out by the Heritage Press have this binding detail, although some have different linen colors to help distinguish them. The spine is where the major difference from the other books lurks, as you’ll see below. All were designed by Clarence Hornung.  Another neat thing about this line of books is that the Heritage Press made all of them the same size. All are 6 x 9 inches, and they seem to all have come with red slipcases (the two Dickens I own feature them, as have others I’ve seen in stores). This book was bound by Frank D. Fortney with Interlaken British grey linen (as the Sandglass describes the color). The front and back are identical.

Dickens was hugely popular with both the LEC and Heritage Press, as both put out several (if not all) of his books.  The first LEC was, curiously, The Chimes. Not his most well-known work, but hey, whatever works! The Chimes came out in 1933 with Arthur Rackham’s visual talent. After an initial frenzy of five books in the 1930’s, he would be given a considerable reprieve until 1957, and the LEC would follow with three more in the ’60’s and ’70’s for a grand total of nine. The Heritage Press didn’t take any sort of hiatus, though, starting off with an exclusive David Copperfield (with John Austen doing the art), and then began this lovely series that were mostly original and unique to their Club. You can check out the Heritage Exclusives list for the entire list.

If you don’t mind, I’ll take a very brief diversion to talk about the first six Heritage Press books. When the Heritage Press got started, they kicked off with a special set that LEC members were offered first.  These were done up a little fancier and featured a signature of the artist somewhere within. 1500 copies were made of these, much like the LEC limitation. Macy had suggested to his LEC clientele that perhaps the Eighth Series of LEC’s could be delayed for these special Heritage books to not cause financial duress to the membership. Naturally, there was a slight outrage, so Macy went ahead and put them both out at the same time. This enabled LEC members to cancel their Heritage order if they so wanted. The six books in question includes the David Copperfield I mentioned, plus A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman (Edward A. Wilson), Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Sylvain Sauvage), The Song of Songs (Valenti Angelo), The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone (W.A. Dwiggins), and Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost (Pierre Brissaud). This info is from the LEC Newsletter for Tristram Shandy, the eleventh book of the seventh series in 1935. From what Django6924 at Librarything recalls, David Copperfield was first, meaning that Dickens launched the Heritage Press (to bring this back around)!

Gordon Ross, the illustrator for the Heritage Pickwick, was a fairly busy artist for the George Macy Company, with at minimum three exclusive Heritage books (this, A Complete Elia by Charles Lamb, and Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon) and five LECs, including two other Dickens works. These were A Christmas Carol (1934) and Great Expectations (1937). Obviously he was well suited to the characters of Mr. Dickens! As for the other LEC editions he was involved with, there is The Jaunts and Jollies of Mr. John Jorrocks in 1932, The Merry Wives of Windsor for the LEC Shakespeare issued in 1939, and The Coverly Letters in 1945. We’ll see Mr. Ross again sometime soon.

Spine – Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Snodgrass adorn the spine, taken from Gordon Ross’ paintings.

Title Page – Ross did eight paintings in this book, alongside drawings to introduce each chapter. You’ll get to see three of those paintings and an example of the chapter openers here. The text is Baskerville, designed by John Baskerville. Printed by Case, Lockwood & Brainard of Hartford, CT with paper specially made for this book provided by Crocker-Burkack Comany of Fitchburg, MA.

Page 21

Page 77

Page 17

Personal Notes – I picked this up along with six other books in the first great Heritage Press haul I made, which took place at an Oakhurst library book sale. I acquired Nostromo, A Tale of Two Cities, Rights of Man, Toilers of the Sea and the two volumes of Les Miserables at the same sale. A considerable accomplishment! All for $2 a book and all of them complete, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, I did snag 50 books for $50 in 2012, which dwarfs this considerably, but for a long time it was the best acquisition I had.

I’ve not read this one quite yet. I’ve dabbled with Dickens with A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol, but I’ve yet to get through an entire work of his. I’m not through with him, though! The Sandglass does a considerable job of hyping this up as one of his best.


The LEC version of The Pickwick Papers features illustrator John Austen, but I’m not sure of any other differences these two variants may have beyond the design and artwork.  Any enlightenment would appreciated!  If you have that info, let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Updated 5/28/2012 – JF