Heritage Press – The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette (1943)

December 26, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette (1943)

The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette (1943)
Sandglass Number 8F
Artwork: Illustrations by Hermane David
Introduced by Jean Cocteau, translated by H. Ashton
Heritage Press exclusive; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – At long last, here’s the second volume from the Heritage Press and Nonesuch Press’ collaborative efforts to reprint several French romances — The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette. Unlike the last volume I featured, The Gods are A-Thirst (where the series history is further detailed, and for those seeking a very thorough breakdown of this series, see here), this edition is from the Nonesuch Press. I recently purchased a Nonesuch volume for myself (the same as the copy I borrowed to make this post) that came with a plethora of documentation including a two-page Sandglass, so I can now discuss the production details. As the other nine volumes in this series, this was designed by Francis Maynell, owner of the Nonesuch Press and close friend to George Macy. He chose Cochin as the primary font, with Le Fourneir as the headlines. Curtis Paper Company supplied the paper, which was printed on by the Printing House of Leo Hart. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter, the everpresent bindery, did the duties for this volume.

This volume is a Heritage exclusive, unlike some later editions issued under this banner. The Limited Editions Club never printed Cleves, nor did they feature its illustrator, Hermine David, in any other publications. The book is one of France’s most prominent works from a woman; de La Fayette (or her full name, Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette) is considered one of the progenitors of the French novel (this work stands as the first historical fiction in French and is an early attempt at psychological fiction). It was issued anonymously back in 1678 — a unfortunately common happenstance for women who wished to branch out beyond domesticity in those heady times — but de La Fayette eventually was attached to the work and has since been credited for her efforts in launching French literature as we know it today. This series has done well to include such a critical work in its canon!

As for Hermine David, she was a member of the Ecole de Paris, a group of immigrants in France that all happened to be artists. This was the sole commission she received by the George Macy Company. Her illustrations were reproduced by the Photogravure and Coloring Company, with the colors handpainted by the studio of Charlize Brakely.

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Title Page – An H. Ashton translated the book, while then-modern French writer Jean Cocteau introduces the work.

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

Personal Notes – Originally I checked this out from my ex wife’s university library, but I bought my own copy from the local Goodwill for the cheap price of $2.99!

Sandglass and other Documents (right click to open full size):

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Updated on 11/12/16

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Heritage Press – The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1943)

October 31, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1943)

The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1944)
Sandglass Number II:16
Artwork: Lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Prologue by Steiner-Prag, translated by “various hands”
Reprint of LEC #146, 14th Series, V. 6 in 1943.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Happy Halloween! And it’s a new post from me at last. South Wind is still forthcoming, but in the meantime, let’s feature the German master of horror, Herr Hoffmann. This is a bit of a curio from the Club; E.T.A. Hoffmann does not have the “classic” status of some of his contemporaries here in America, although according to Macy he was definitely well-regarded in his native Germany and even noted that a reader of Hoffmann would be consider having “a high I.Q.” This was the sole work from Hoffmann printed for the LEC and the Heritage Press.

Hugo Steiner-Prag is not unfamiliar to this blog, unlike the author of this work; Herr Steiner-Prag has appeared multiple times. In fact, I believe that beyond the LEC Measure for Measure, we have now documented all of his work for the George Macy Company with this post. His short but storied run is documented on Tartuffe (which, after taking a quick look at that post, reminds me how much I need to clean up all those old posts). He is a great fit for the tense texts of Hoffmann, as you will see. Alas, this was his final work for either club, as he passed away during the production of the LEC edition of this work shortly after submitting his contribution.

Design Notes – The designer is not mentioned in the Sandglass, but Django6924 alerted me that the LEC colophon mentions that Steiner-Prag was the designer. Steiner-Prag was “obsessed” with Hoffmann according to Django, and I think that his artwork, design work and prologue serve as a declaration of that obsession. The font chosen was Waverly, with Walbaum utilized for the headlines. Westcott and Thomson composed the type, and Ferris Printing Company handling the printing. George Miller printed the lithographs. The paper is from Chillicothe Paper Company specially made for this edition (with a comment about its quality despite being in the middle of World War II). Russell-Rutter handled the bindery duties. Steiner-Prag composed the designs for the cover, which Macy observes may have been his final piece of art before his death. The cloth is a rough, blue-gray Dutch linen.

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Spine

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Title Page – Steiner-Prag has the notable distinction of serving not only as illustrator, but as the introduction writer as well. This is a little unusual; I can’t think of another instance I’ve come across this in Macy’s tenure, as well as the later owners of the Clubs. It’s also unusual in that Steiner-Prag decided to write his own tale instead of a literary essay; Django explains it as “the record of a ghostly encounter Steiner-Prag had with Hoffman. Strange, and much in the nature of one of Hoffman’s own tales.” So, this is certainly a unique volume in the annals of the LEC/Heritage Press canon.

Examples of the lithographs by Steiner-Prag (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal History – I picked this up from Second Time Around Used Books in Merced, CA while I still worked there. Since I left, there’s been an increase in Heritage titles there. Haven’t gotten around to reading the stories yet, but I am certainly intrigued.

Sandglass forthcoming.

Updated 11/1/2015 JF

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.

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Front Binding

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Title Page

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

Now let’s spotlight Jane Eyre:

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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!

Heritage Press – The Iliad of Homer (1943)

October 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Iliad of Homer (1943)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Classical Design Sketches by John Flaxman
Translated and introduced by Alexander Pope, supervised by Carl Van Doren
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC did their own Iliad in 1931, designed by Jan van Krimpen.

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – The neat Greek design you see on the left does go all the way around the front in a box. It’s also a lovely shade of red. The Odyssey would follow the same design philosophies but go for a blue cloth instead. Info on the designer of the book will be forthcoming, as long as the Connecticut Sandglass I’ve acquired recently contains it.

This book pulls heavily from the past (not only in the material of Homer, of course), with poet Alexander Pope’s translation and 19th century sculptor John Flaxman’s outlines embellishing the text. The combination looks great, although I admit to having not read the book in question.

Pope, despite being a fairly prominent figure in the English poetry canon, never had his own work reproduced by the George Macy Company, although he would reappear as part of a set of translators for Ovid’s Metamorphosis in 1961. Why his essays on Man and Criticism, not to mention The Rape of the Lock, were untouched by the LEC or Heritage Press is a mystery to me.

Flaxman was best known for his bas-reliefs, which to this day can be found all over England.  He was a busy man working with many mediums: sculpture, painting, drafts, drawings and engravings were all part of his prolific output. He not only rendered the worlds of Homer, but those of Dante and Aeschylus as well. As far as I know, Flaxman’s work was only utilized by the Company for the two works of Homer for the Heritage Press.

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Title Page – Alexander Pope provides an introduction to his translation (or, better said, the Press plucked it as well as his translation to be used here). Carl Van Doren seemed to have supervisory control on the book, as he provides a note on the translation following Pope’s intro. Thanks to m7ia for the info and reminder to check! As for Flaxman’s artwork, it certainly fits the bill in my opinion. It has a simplistic grace to it, which he was renowned for in his heyday.

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Personal Notes – I’d like to compare van Krimpen’s LEC’s to these Heritage editions. These are nice, but I imagine that van Krimpen’s are impressive, too. I originally documented a library copy, but hey, now I have one thanks to my old friend from my first bookselling gig who happened to collect this on his travels somewhere.

Connecticut Sandglass to come.

Updated 7/29/2012 JF

Heritage Press – The Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (1943)

October 17, 2011 § 6 Comments

The Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (1943)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Prepared, Edited and Commentated by Louis Untermeyer
Part of the Heritage American Poets Series

Reprint of LEC #153/15th Series V. 1 in 1943

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – Welcome to our first American Poets title!  There’s quite a few of these, all with the same bland boards on the front and back, saving its creativeness for an patriotic spine (which you can see below).  Louis Untermeyer (didn’t I just talk about him?) served as the Editor for this series.  Others include Longfellow, Bryant, Whittier, Dickinson, and Emerson (from a quick ABE Books scan), with Dickinson being the last LEC reprinted in 1952.  Poe’s was the first, originally done in 1943 by the Limited Editions Club and thus redone by the Heritage Press in this exclusive series.  Curiously, they omitted Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass despite the collection being among the most reprinted of any of Macy’s books.

Anyway, this is our first Edgar Allan Poe post, but there is no shortage of future posts about the Gothic master.  The fifth book the LEC ever produced was Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (which bizarrely had a Heritage reprint – a scarcity for a book done this early in the LEC lifeline!) in 1929.  In 1941 his Tales of Mystery and Imagination would be printed, followed up by this particular book in 1943.  With most everything major printed, Macy would retire from Poe’s works, but Sid Shiff revisited The Fall of the House of Usher in 1985 with its own edition.  I have Heritage copies of the first two, so expect those down the road.

Herr Steiner-Prag has been documented before for his work on Tartuffe – his full career with the George Macy Company is there (and will be revised in the future), but I will add here that this was his last LEC before his passing in 1945.  As usual, his work is astounding.

Spine – All of the American Poets books have this spine design.

Title Page – Steiner-Prag does a very good Poe portrait, that he does.  Untermeyer provides commentary to the poems on top of preparing and editing them, and that is a lovely logo of the Heritage Press Sandglass there!  I should scan that for the blog’s Gravatar.

Page 11 – A little more surrealist than Tartuffe, but amazing none the less.

Page 15

Personal Notes – I got this one for $5 in Jamestown, California this past summer.  It has no Sandglass or slipcase, but the book was in nigh-perfect condition, and it was $5.  I tend to not pass up books that low for documenting!…although I am keeping this one thanks to how nice it is.  With any luck I’ll get a slipcase and Sandglass in the future for it.

If you have a LEC of this book or a Sandglass for the Heritage New York printing, 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.  Thanks!

Of Interest – The Readers Club

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):

1941 Titles

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

1942 Titles

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

1943 Titles

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.

Sources:

http://library.columbia.edu/indiv/rbml/findingmaterials/uncataloged_books.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,772156,00.html

http://notorc.blogspot.com/2006/08/book-club-wars-part-two-depression-war.html

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/cul/texts/ldpd_6309312_028/pages/ldpd_6309312_028_00000095.html?toggle=&menu=maximize&top=undefined&left=undefined

http://books.google.com/books?id=NQozEkrNYjIC&pg=PA446&lpg=PA446&dq=reader%27s+club+george+macy+sinclair+lewis&source=bl&ots=wpAACafQ6a&sig=s_9XTT-ip3gwfom2RuYrBbBNRQA&hl=en&ei=fZV-TqSDKcfKiALiyNC6Aw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2702890-william

http://www.librarything.com/topic/116350#2947291

Heritage Press: Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin (1943)

June 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin (1943)
Sandglass Number XII:28
Artwork: Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Babette Deutsch, edited and introduced by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
Reprint of LEC #147/14th Series, V. 7, in 1943

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – The Heritage edition of Eugene Onegin is quite a looker.  The boards feature a recreation of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul done by Fritz Eichenberg, which were then taken to Martin Weber, a man who invented a process called “repeat-patterns” via camera to duplicate the image multiple times.  Sounds straightforward to us today, but remember that this was before Xerox machines or computers!  Russell-Rutter’s Frank and William Fortney performed the binding in New York.

Slipcase



Title Page –
Alexander Pushkin’s first work to be printed by the Limited Editions Club (and later reprinted by the Heritage Press) is this fine poetic novel Eugene Onegin, arguably Pushkin’s most renowned work – The Golden Cockerel would follow in 1949 (with famous book artist Edward Dulac providing the art there), and The Captain’s Daughter and Other Stories would arrive in 1971, with Charles Mozley doing the artistic honors.

For this particular book, Fritz Eichenberg was commissioned to create lithographic prints for his first assignment for the Club, and this definitely stands as one of the finer achievements in his brilliant career.  The art is this book is incredible.  But we’ll get to that shortly – let’s run through the other important figures behind the book.  Pushkin’s Russian text was translated into English by Babette Deutsch, a poet and critic whose work on this book was quite notable.  She was married to the editor/introducer of this book, Avrahm Yarmolinsky, who served as the head of the New York Public Library’s Slavonic Division for three decades.  Not a bad team, I’d say.  The text is Bodoni’s Monotype, printed in New York by Robert Bederson on paper made for the book by the Strathmore Paper Company.



Pages 4 – 5 –
Eichenberg’s stunning lithographs begin each chapter in this dramatic fashion, further cementing him as one of my favorite illustrators of all time.  His style clicks so well with this book.  Pushkin himself is considered one of Russia’s finest (if not the finest) poets, and founded modern Russian literature during his lifetime – I’d like to hope he’d be pleased with the fine treatment Eichenberg did on this particular book.  George Macy had George C. Miller and his son Burr Miller handle the printing of the lithographs.  You’ll find a lovely description on how the lithographs were made and set to print in the Sandglass below, courtesy of Librarything’s kdweber.  Much thanks!



Pages 43 – 44 –
I may have to declare this one of the greatest pieces in any Macy book.  I adore this illustration on the left.



Pages 62 – 63

Personal Notes – Checked out through my library system at first, I added it to my own collection in 2011 thanks to Bookbuyers in Monterey.  I traded a heap of incomplete Heritage Press books for credit to get this and many others, and I’m really happy to own this one.  Alas, there’s a rather annoying price sticker on the slipcase that will destroy it if I attempt to remove it…*sigh*  I do want the LEC original, as it’s a beauty.

Sandglass (courtesy of kdweber)

Updated 10/16/2011

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