Limited Editions Club: Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters (1942)

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters (1942)
LEC #134/13th Series V. 5 in 1942
Artwork: Illustrations by Boardman Robinson
Introduced by the author
LEC #1079 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

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Front Binding – Over George Macy’s tenure of the Limited Editions Club, only a very select few LECs were issued with the original author’s signature. The first was Ulysses back in 1935, and James Joyce’s signature was added to 250 of the total count of books offered at a first-come basis (the remaining 1250 were only signed by artist Henri Matisse, who signed all of them). Originally issued at $10 for the regular run and $15 for Joyce’s additional signature, these now stand as the most expensive titles from the LEC during Macy’s ownership.

From there, Van Wyck Brooks would be the next in 1941, signing some of the LECs of his work The Flowering of New England in 1941. Our featured book, Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, was next in 1943, and the first to have all copies signed by the author. Wendell L. Willkie’s One World was only signed by the author when it was issued in 1944 (and is probably among the least desired LECs; if you followed any of the posts I’ve discussed about the World War II period of the Club, it seems pretty clear that this was a pitch hitter for the many books delayed or cancelled from the war), and in 1950 Robert Frost signed his book of poems for the Club along with designer Bruce Rogers and artist Thomas A. Nason (another coveted edition from the Macy canon). Editor Jean Hersholt signed some of the various Evergreen Tales (which I’m noting here as he did write, rewrite and translate a few). And that is the totality of author signed editions from Macy’s leadership of the LEC.

Helen Macy mostly avoided the practice of author signatures; only 1965’s The Jungle by Upton Sinclair would feature the nom de plume of its creator. Jonathan Macy’s brief ownership had none at all. Cardevon Press did two over their eight years of running the Club, with 1974’s The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and 1974’s Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Of course, Sid Shiff would specialize far more in living authors over his tenure, and many of his books do feature the author’s signature…to the point I would be here for a significant chunk of time listing them all out.

With that tidbit of interest out of the way, let’s return to the subject at hand, Spoon River Anthology.

Written in 1915, Masters’ superb collection of poems theme around a narrator figure entering the township of the fictional Spoon River, entering its graveyard and experiencing the epitaphs of 212 dead citizens over 244 “accounts”, i.e. poems. The character’s stories intersect with others — family, friends, enemies — creating a rich overall view of village life of the community in the late 1800s. This was the sole work of Masters that got any sort of treatment from the LEC, and the Heritage Press did not issue a reprint. Personally, this is among my favorite works of poetry!

Remarkably, this is the debut of artist Boardman Robinson in an official capacity here; as I noted several years ago in my short lived series of Of Interest posts spotlighting other books, Robinson doesn’t really resonate with me. However, I do find his style effective for depicting Masters’ universe of the dead reliving their memories, so I find this one far more enjoyable than others I have seen. Since this is the first time I’ve discussed him, let’s cover his bibliography: he got started with King Lear for the LEC Shakespeare set in 1939-40, followed that with this particular commission, and ended with perhaps the one set of illustrations people know him for best: Moby Dick in 1943. His career as an art professor and muralist likely kept him busy in his subsequent years until his death in 1952.

Design Notes –  Warren Chappell, last seen for The Temptation of Saint Anthony, was the designer of this one. In fact, this was likely his first gig for Macy (barring any work he may have done for the Heritage Press)! Per the QM:




20210109_114651 Slipcase


Title Page – Masters himself provides the introduction to his own work.


Colophon – This is #1079 of 1500, and was signed by both Robinson and Masters.

Examples of Robinson’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I bought this online from Moe’s Books, one of my favorite shops in the Bay Area, over the long COVID isolation. I love the poems within, and having a signed copy with Masters made this a very easy purchase…even if Robinson’s artwork isn’t my favorite.

These poems just blow me away, as well. Such a supreme work in the field of poetry in the 20th century.

Heritage Press – Gargantua and Pentagruel by Francois Rabelais (1942)

Gargantua and Pentagruel by Francois Rabelais (1942)
Sandglass Number 10M
Artwork: Illustrations by Lynd Ward
Translation and Introduction by Jacques LeClercq
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own LEC, #82, in the 7th Series, V. 12, in 1936 with a five-volume set featuring the talents of W.A. Dwiggins.

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Front Binding – Our weekend of Ward marches on with this delightful Heritage exclusive edition of Francois Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, an early French comedic romp filled with fantasy and humor. Despite being printed in the middle of World War II (of which I could compile a post of mishaps and tragedies that beset the George Macy Company’s efforts…perhaps next year?), Macy managed to produce this lovely 800 page volume packed to the gills with 100 drawings from Mr. Ward, a mammoth undertaking for both press and artist! Rabelais, a monk and practitioner of medicine in his time, is best known for this work, and it’s a defining classic of French literature. This work was also issued as a LEC earlier in 1936, starring W.A. Dwiggins in a five volume set.

Ward, as mentioned yesterday, has his bibliography here. And I won’t mince any further words about him here, as I’ve probably gushed plenty about his talents elsewhere on the blog; just know that he did 100 line drawings interspersed in Rabelais’ text.

Design Notes – The designer is not mentioned; we do know that LeClercq’s translation comes from the LEC, so it’s possible that Macy borrowed the textual design of that work for this reissuing (W.A. Dwiggins designed the LEC). However, Electra was Dwiggins’ font of choice; here, Scotch is used. So I’m not sure who exactly to credit on this one.

The text was composed by Quinn and Boden and put to the page by Ferris Printing Company. The binding is a little strange — the Sandglass observes that a blue stamped design was intended for the book’s tan linen, but as you can see, that didn’t happen with my book (only on the spine). Perhaps World War II once again undermined Macy’s intentions? And that’s as deep as the Sandglass goes into production notes here.

gnp-hp-spine gnp-hp-slipcase



Title Page – LeClercq serves as an Introductory voice to the text as well as its translator.

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


Personal History – This was my first purchase of a Heritage/LEC title after I moved! Huzzah! Purchased at the Bookstore in Chico. Eager to read!



Updated 2/25/2018 – JF

Heritage Press – The Gods are A-Thrist by Anatole France (1942)

The Gods are A-Thrist by Anatole France (1942)
Sandglass Number VI:21
Artwork: Illustrations by Jean Oberlé
Introduced by André Maurois, translated by Alfred Allinson
Heritage Press exclusive; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration.

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Front Binding – Sooner or later I was bound to run into this series; today’s a good a day as any! This book is a part of a greater series on the Great French writers, done in collaboration with the Nonesuch Press (for lavish details on the Nonesuch side of things, I point you to Nick Long’s splendid post on their edition of this very book at his blog). As I have mentioned in The Shaving of Shagpat, the Nonesuch Press was run by Sir Francis Meredith Meynell, who designed this particular edition (according to Long, George Macy designed eight of the ten books, and this one was one of the exceptions). Since this is the first time we’ve seen a book in this line, let me do my best to properly detail out each one below:

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

There is a splendid story behind this series, which I’ve recently separated out into its own post here.

As stated above, the books all share a similar motif for the boards like above; a Fleur-de-lis pattern on both sides, with a gold-stamped spine highlighting the title in a rather fancy font.

Anatole France once again makes an appearance here; we’re running out of books to spotlight! I’ve covered the two editions of Penguin Island and the Heritage Revolt of the Angels already, and, for those who stumble upon this on the main page of the blog, will see that I just shared a heap of illustrations and info from the Dodd, Mead & Co. illustrated editions of those two works right below this one (or for those just glancing at this one post, here’s the link!). All that’s left is for me to track down the LEC copies of At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque and The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard , as well as a LEC or Heritage copy of his shorter novel Crainquebille…not to mention the Sauvage Penguin Island from the Heritage Press! I adore this man’s work, that I most certainly do, and he’s very high, if not the highest, on my “need to own all of the works done by Macy of this author” list. Luckily, his relative obscurity in today’s literary circles will make that not too horrid an expenditure.

Jean Oberlé makes his sole appearance in the George Macy Company canon here. I’m a little torn by the work, personally; it’s colored well and Oberlé has a knack for bringing out the humorous aspects in his illustrations, but the overall look and layout doesn’t excite me. Such is life, I suppose; I can’t be wooed by everyone!

Production details: the font is Cochin, with headings in Sylvan (hmm, almost a nod to Sylvain Sauvage!). The title on the title page and ornamental letters are all done by hand. Riverside Press printed the text, while the Photogravure and Color Comoany of New York produced the illustrations. The Arrow Press colored the art via pochoir, which the Sandglass gleefully explains on Page 4. No bindery info this time!




Title Page – André Maurois, well-known biographer and writer, steps in to introduce this story. Alfred Allinson was one of France’s official translators, and Macy snatched up his localization to use for his edition. Now, an interesting development occurred with the various issuing of this book via Heritage and Nonesuch. Nick points this out, utilizing my photo to contrast against his Nonesuch copy (which I hope he doesn’t mind my using of it, much like he was concerned about his use of my picture!):


The interpretation of Oberlé’s artwork is radically different in the two works! The Nonesuch was hand-colored, as Nick points out, compared to the rubber-stamped prints done for the Heritage printing. Fascinating stuff, and it makes me wonder if other books shared between the two printing houses did the same sort of treatment. Kudos again, Nick!

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

Personal Notes – I bought this from Old Capitol Books in Monterey the first time I visited the rechristened Bookhaven. It’s not the first printing, but I’m happy to have another France tome in my collection. It’s in really good shape.

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

Updated 7/17/2013 by JF

Limited Editions Club – Samuel Pepys’ Diary (1942)

Samuel Pepys’ Diary (1942, ten volume set, Volume I and X utilized for this post)
LEC #135/13th Series V. 6 in 1942
Artwork – Pen Drawings by William Sharp
Transcribed by Rev. Mynors Bright, edited and additions by Henry B. Wheatley
LEC #1240 of 1500

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Front Binding (Volume I) – Hello friends! It’s been a long while. Today’s LEC is the 10-volume issuing of Samuel Pepys’ Diary. This diary is among the most famous in all of literature, and George Macy took no chances with his reprinting of it. He went with the Henry A. Wheatley translation taken directly from the Pepys volumes in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College in England, which was transcribed by Rev. Mynors Bright. This is only one cover of ten. I didn’t check out each individual book, but I can say that each one features a different illustration if memory serves. Each volume represents a year out of the Diary. The production details are as follows, courtesy of the book’s announcement letter:

So, it was shipped in two sets, I see. The letter too was inside this library check-out, which I have scanned and supplied at the end of this post. This was the only printing of Pepys by the LEC, but it’s a nice one! This was re-released by the Heritage Press in a two-volume set in the same year.

William Sharp is making his debut on the blog today, so let’s give him a little bibliography, shall we? He worked on five different LEC’s and one Heritage exclusive for George Macy’s houses. The LEC’s are, in chronological order:

Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (1941)
This set of Pepys’ Diary (1942)
The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1955)
The Wall by John Hersey (1957)
Wilheim Meister’s Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1959)

An eclectic set of selections, eh? I have the Poe and Rousseau Heritages, so I’ll share those down the road. Also, he was a part of the Heritage Dickens series, rendering The Old Curiosity Shop. I’ve recently discovered that Sharp also did a Heritage exclusive Autoobiography of Benjamin Franklin as well.

Title Page – A rather fanciful one, isn’t it? I’ve pretty much explained all of the above info earlier, so I’ll save a second explanation.

Signature Page – This copy from my university library is #1240, signed by Sharp.

Page 23 – Most if not all of Sharp’s drawings are in-text ones, but he was a solid choice. I prefer his work in the Poe, however.

Page 43

Personal Notes – Borrowed from my university…so I don’t really much else to add! I wouldn’t mind owning it, though.

LEC Monthly Letter:

Upadted 7/22/2013 by JF

Heritage Press: The Education of Henry Adams (1942)

The Education of Henry Adams (1942)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Gravures by Samuel Chamberlain
Introduction by Henry Seidel Canby
Reprint of LEC #133, 13th Series, V. 4 in 1942.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – A wonderful marbled set of boards for you here, with tan cloth for the spine.  Alas, I don’t have the Sandglass for this book, so I’ll be hoping to net some info from somebody to inform you about the book’s creation.

Henry Adams is best known for this autobiographical work, with Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres not too far behind.  He was well regarded in his day and age for his knowledge of history, even teaching at Harvard for a while.  He also was a journalist, intellectual and was tied to the Adams family of presidents.  He would see the two works I discuss above see LEC and Heritage editions.

Samuel Chamberlain only worked for the George Macy Company on the two Adams works.  Here he provides gravures, and for Mont-Saint-Michel he supplied a photographic touch.  I assume that this here is an obituary on him; it certainly sounds appropriate.


Title Page – Henry Seidel Canby gives an introduction.  Chamberlain is doing a fine job in my book.  His landscapes are very nice.

Page 30

Page 190

Personal Notes – I bought this from my local library for $8 or so a couple years back.  Wish it had the Sandglass, but the book was in very good condition save some water spots on the spine.

If you have a Sandglass for the Heritage New York printing, or the LEC edition (for comparison), please drop me a line here or through the comments at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  I could use extra insights into this book’s creation.  Thanks!