Limited Editions Club: Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson (1943)

Far Away and Long Ago by William Henry (W.H.) Hudson (1943)
LEC #152/14th Series V. 12 in 1943
Artwork: Illustrations with lithographs by Raúl Rosarivo
Introduction by R.B. Cunninghame-Graham
LEC #1236 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

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Front Binding – March brings us a new book from both a new author and illustrator, as well as one of the most distinctive and original bindings in the LEC canon — William Henry (W.H.) Hudson’s Far Away and Long Ago, issued in December 1943 to the membership. You probably noticed that the material for the binding appears to be hair, and you would be correct; Far Away is bound in rough horse hide with the hair remaining for its bottom half, giving each book its own unique look as each horse had its own coloring. My only hope is that the animals died of natural causes prior to being utilized for what could be kindly referred to as a vanity binding. A smoothed rawhide features the title branded in, and it is all stitched together in rawhide thongs. As one might expect, a binding such as this is difficult to come across in relatively unscathed condition nearly 70 years on; my copy is one that has managed that task. However, the interior is a little foxed, but I intend to protect it as best I can during my ownership of it.

Hudson isn’t a stranger to the George Macy Company at this point, as his most famous work, Green Mansions, had already been issued in 1935 by the LEC, and a Heritage exclusive variant was sent out to the Heritage Club in 1936. Devotee BuzzBuzzard shared that “Green Mansions was indeed a Heritage exclusive and in fact the very first book from regular subscription, sandglass 1A. It is copyrighted 1936 by the Heritage Club. A top quality production!” Regarding the LEC, it was Edward A. Wilson’s third commission for the LEC, and he seems a good fit for the book given some of his other illustrations. For the Heritage, Miguel Covarrubias was tasked with its artistry, of which he has performed admirably (I once had it in my collection, and would like to reacquire it for my Exclusives list. I believe it was unceremoniously drenched in an accidental spill).

This release, however, marks the end for Hudson’s career within the Macy canon. Far Away is a biographical memoir of his life growing up in Argentina that was written in 1918; this particular edition is a celebration of Argentina in several ways, as we shall see.

Argentinian poet, illustrator and General Director of the Buenos Aires Provincial Graphic Workshops Raúl Rosarivo served as the illustrator for Far Away, and he does an incredible job with his exceptional lithographs capturing the moments from Hudson’s life. It is his sole contribution to the LEC, but it is very memorable (and given how distinct the binding is, it’s great the interior has such grand merits as well!).

Design Notes – Much like Rosarivo, the book’s designer is also Argentinean: Alberto Kraft, who owned the Guillermo Kraft Limitia S.A. print shop in Buenos Aires. The book was entirely created in his shop, from the printing to the binding, as the Quarto notes:

Alas, I do not have the box it originally came in.

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Title Page – R.B. Cunninghame-Graham provides an introduction. Also get a sample of Rosarivo’s exquisite lithographs in action; he certainly was a master at his craft.

Colophon – This is #1236 of 1500, and was signed by both Rosarivo and Kraft.

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

Personal Notes – This was one of several books sent to me by fellow Devotee NYCFaddict, who recently acquired a completed copy and no longer needed this one. Seeing the condition was pretty immaculate, a bit of a rarity for this book given the unique horse hair binding, I went ahead and snagged it from him. This is one I never thought I’d have, so I’m pleased as punch to have it in my collection!

Limited Editions Club: The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert (1943)

The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert (1943)
LEC #143/14th Series V. 3 in 1943
Artwork: Illustrations by Warren Chappell
Introduced by Elizabeth Bisland, translated and an argument by Lafcadio Hearn
LEC #487 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

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Front Binding – The Limited Editions Club, over its long tenure, issued 592 titles. Some are sung to the heavens as masterworks of the artistry of the printing press, some are considered tragic misfires; however, there are several that are underappreciated and unsung in the general consensus of collectors and critics, and today I have the pleasure of bringing you one that I personally feel deserves to be praised far greater than I have yet heard. That title is 1943’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert, a novel on the religious figure Saint Anthony the Great. Saint Anthony has seen no shortage of artistic expression in the past few centuries — Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to the topic. Even future LEC illustrator Michael Ayrton joined in!

Flaubert has been covered here on our blog before, with the Heritage/Nonesuch collab for Madame Bovary (where I get into his bibliography with the LEC and Heritage Press). It is considered a novel but is written in a structure fitting for a play or dramatic reading, with each character’s dialogue formatted like a script. It tells the story of one night in Anthony’s life where he is tempted by many different sins, demons and Satan himself, in the guise of Hilarion. This work predates many of his more conventional novels, beginning life in 1849. According to his Wikipedia page, “He read the novel aloud to Louis Bouilhet and Maxime Du Camp over the course of four days, not allowing them to interrupt or give any opinions. At the end of the reading, his friends told him to throw the manuscript in the fire, suggesting instead that he focus on day-to-day life rather than fantastic subjects.” A very harsh critique! Flaubert put this story aside to begin work on Bovary, which took him five years to write. In 1857, he returned to Anthony, revising it into its current form over 15 years, working on other projects in between,

The book’s illustrator, Warren Chappell, was a well regarded children’s book artist, book designer and type designer, creating the fonts Lydian and Trajanus. He worked with Macy on two books over his long career, this and a Heritage exclusive of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. While his tenure with the LEC was incredibly brief, it was not incredibly meager, as you shall see.

Design Notes – Chappell pulled double duty serving as both illustrator and designer for this volume.

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Title Page – One of the more dynamic and eye-catching title pages I’ve yet come across in the LEC canon, this is just a masterful execution. Each of Chappell’s incredible illustrations is exquisitely printed like this, and are just breathtaking to look at. Lafcadio Hearn served as the translator and provides a brief “argument” that prefaces the text; unnoted here is the note upon the story and translation provided by Elizabeth Bisland.

Colophon – This is #487 of 1500, and signed by Chappell.

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

Personal Notes – This wonderful edition came to me via Devotee NYCFaddict, who I procured many books from earlier this year. This particular book wowed me upon opening it with how beautifully printed it is — Chappell showed how masterful he was at the craft with this book. It’s a bit of a shame this is the sole contribution he gave to the LEC, but I am now on the hunt for his Heritage Yankee to have both of his works in my collection. This is one of my favorites!

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 – I bought my 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

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. Today, 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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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

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Updated 2/25/2018 ~ JF

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

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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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!