July 10, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Essays of Francis Bacon (1944/1951)
The Essays of Francis Bacon (1944)
Sandglass Number V:15 (not the exact Sandglass for this book, the Sandglass is from 1951)
Artwork: Decorations by Bruce Rogers
Introduced by Christopher Morley, with a brief note by A.S.W. Rosenbach
Reprint of LEC #157, 15th Series, V. 5 in 1944.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Today brings the sole offering from the noted scholar and essayist Francis Bacon to the George Macy Company, a superb printing of the Essays (or Effayes, as the title page and spine depict it in the language of Bacon’s day). The LEC and Heritage editions are similar in terms of appearance, although the LEC uses far more exquisite materials. For a bevy of life details on Bacon, see the newly appended Sandglass below, courtesy of Django6924.
Bruce Rogers was the designer of the LEC edition, and that design pretty much carried right over to the Heritage. Rogers chose to maintain most of the original spelling and letter differences of Bacon’s original writings here, and he provided some rather nice decorations for the openings of each essay, for the title page, and the binding. Rogers has once before been spotlighted here, with The Federalist Papers. He was 81 when this Sandglass was printed (74 when the LEC was issued), and passed away in 1957.
Design notes: Janson is the font of choice; Rogers decided to redraw the majority of the letters, which were specially cut for the LEC edition by the Monotype Corporation. Decorations are in Garamond. The first letter of each essay was designed by Rogers and serve as the illustrations. Each page was meticulously formatted by Rogers to his exact standards. The Heritage pages were printed via lithography by the Duenewald Printing Corporation, and Russell-Rutter handled the binding. Rogers drew the cover illustration, which was printed with gold leaf paper. The design was taken from one of Queen Elizabeth I’s tapestries from her throne room, which is quite apropos. The boar was Bacon’s, taken from his crest. The spine is a greenish linen.
Title Page – A rather dynamic title page, with Rogers’ design flourish in full force. Christopher Morley supplies an introduction, which is not noted here, but it is on the pre-title page. Morley concedes a bit of his space to A.S.W. Rosenbach for a postscript.
Examples of the decorations by Rogers (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I bought this at Bookbuyers in Monterey, if my memory is not mistaken. I was quite taken by the lovely cover, and would like to give the essays a shot in the future.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
April 20, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1944)
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1944)
Sandglass Number XIII:23
Artwork: Hither-to Unpublished Drawings by William Blake
Translated and with notes by Melville Best Anderson, Introduced by Arthur Livingston
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own edition of The Divine Comedy in 1933. This edition borrows the textual design from that edition.
Front Binding – I recently asked my fellow Devotees to select a Heritage book from the lot I have remaining for this particular post, and the consensus settled upon the Heritage Divine Comedy. This is quite a lovely book, especially from the outside. But we’ll dive into that in a moment; let’s talk about Dante. Dante Alighieri is best known for this particular work, and the George Macy Company and its successors agreed on that front; this was the only work from the poet issued by the Club, but it was issued in its own unique edition for the LEC and for the Heritage Press. The LEC came out in 1933, and was printed by Officina Bodoni, the famed printing house in Verona, Italy run by Hans Mardersteig. It lacked any illustrations from my understanding (and quick research). The Heritage Press, a little over a decade later, decided to print their own edition based in part on Mardersteig’s LEC design, but with an addition: the previously unpublished drawings of Dante’s imaginative world done by the British artist and poet, William Blake.
Blake has been discussed here before, way back in 2011 when I shared a frankly shoddy copy of the Heritage The Pilgrim’s Progress with you. I failed in those heady times to properly document his bibliography in the Clubs, so I’ll do that now:
1941, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, illustrator (available as a Heritage)
1954, L’Allegro and Il Penseroso by John Milton, illustrator (available as a Heritage)
1973, Poems of William Blake, author/illustrator (seemingly available as a 1990s Heritage…which essentially means an Easton Press book)
1940, Paradise Lost by John Milton, illustrator (Carlotta Petrina did the LEC edition)
1944, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, illustrator
Blake was, to put it modestly, a fairly surreal illustrator, and the Club chose to avoid some of the “grisly surrealist suggestiveness” of many of the one hundred and two drawings left to John Linnell, the person who commissioned Blake to conduct this project back in 1824. Blake intended to engrave all of them, but his passing in 1827 left only seven finished engravings and the bunch of sketches. Linnell paid Blake a fairly nice sum of two to three pounds a week while he worked on these illustrations, but they ultimately came to naught, as Linnell chose not to use the unfinished artwork and merely retained the pieces in his collection. His family managed to keep these treasured sketches and engravings safe, and in 1918 the family sold off the assortment of Blake’s work to a multitude of scholarly institutions. Reproductions were made for subscribers, and George Macy (or one of his associates) happened to be one of those subscribers. Wanting to avoid comparisons to Gustave Dore’s Bible, which Macy describes as a child experiencing “nightmare after nightmare as a result of looking at the grisly pictures in the Dore Bible!“, Macy narrowed the selections down to 32 drawings and one engraving for the Heritage Divine Comedy — none of which he deemed too “grisly”. Macy also chose to tint the artwork for each section: a “hot red” for Inferno, a “warm brown” for Purgatory, and a “cool blue” for Paradise. The engraving is reproduced exactly as it was in the print from the original reproduced book.
Production details are lacking in…well, detail. I can tell you the font (Bembo), the binding (a dynamic red cloth with a sharp black design mimicking the ecclesiastics from Dante’s period, featuring a pomegranate motif popular in that time), and that Sir Emery Walker was the original reproducer of the Blake illustrations before they were subsequently reproduced in a smaller scale via photogravure for this edition. I can also tell you that the text design is pretty much borrowed from the LEC edition, as best as I can tell, making Mardersteig the partial designer of this book. Beyond that, unless someone has some other piece of paraphernalia, I can’t tell you much more about it.
Title Page – The text utilizes Dr. Melville Best Anderson’s translation, which the Sandglass notes was also used by the LEC to create their Divine Comedy. Anderson apparently revisited it for the Heritage version with some emendations, if I’m reading Macy’s words properly. Notes were also provided by Anderson. Arthur Livingston was called upon to write an Introduction to the text, and as the title page proclaims, this is the first public printing of William Blake’s Divine Comedy sketches.
Examples of the Illustrations by Blake (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I’ve had this book since 2012 I believe. I got it at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, alongside my lovely Penguin Island starring Frank C. Pape’s artwork. Lovely shop with very kind owners. The binding won me over; what a lovely cloth this is! Blake’s style is not really my cup of tea, but it’s certainly unique and bizarre and fascinating to look at, so I’m quite happy to have this edition in my collection.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
August 18, 2013 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Tales of the Gold Rush by Bret Harte (1944)
Tales of the Gold Rush by Bret Harte (1944)
Sandglass Number X:31
Artwork: Illustrations by Fletcher Martin
Introduced by Oscar Lewis
Reprint of LEC #160/15th Series V. 8 in 1944
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – Bret Harte is a bit of a local legend where I live, as his Tales of the Gold Rush revolve around many areas near my home. The George Macy Company apparently enjoyed the tales of Harte, as they published a collection of his stories fairly early in the Limited Editions Club lifespan. This was the sole work of Harte’s issued. For the first Heritage reprint, they replicated a shiny chunk of the namesake metal for the boards, and put the pertinent text on the spine edge, which I think is quite classy. I recently acquired my own copy of the book (originally I had a library copy), so now I can expand on the design notes and update the photos to remove the library stamps and labels.
Fletcher Martin delivered his first of five commissions for the Company here. Next came Nordoff and Hall’s Mutiny on the Bounty in 1947. A significant gap ensued, with Martin returning in 1961 to illustrate Jack London’s The Sea Wolf. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle followed in 1965, and if you can pick up the LEC, Sinclair signed it along with Martin! Last but not least was John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, issued in 1970 in the midst of the transition period into Cardevon Press’ tenure. Martin has a simple but emotive style that I think captures the rugged spirit of the three books I have with his art (this, Of Mice and Men and The Jungle).
Design notes: The name of the designer is curiously absent from the Sandglass. The LEC Letter states that that edition was designed in-house by Macy (thanks, Django6924!), so I will credit Mr. Macy as the Heritage designer as well. This was among the several replacements issued during the 1943-1944 Fifteenth Series, where chaos had thrown asunder many of Macy’s plans for this Series. Originally, The Faerie Queene, illustrated solely by John Austen, and All Men are Brothers, featuring Miguel Covarrubias, were slated for 1944, but both had to be delayed. Austen lived in an area Macy called “Hell’s Corner” at the time, and his original set of engravings were destroyed in one of the German raids. He specifies a “section of England”, which fellow devotee Huxley the Cat posits could be the Channel Islands, the only place the Nazis occupied in the British Isles. At any rate, Austen lost the work to the Germans somehow, and he never got the chance to finish the second attempt, as he passed away before their completion. Agnes Miller Parker stepped in to supplement Austen’s contribution. As for Covarrubias, as noted in the bonus letter I included in my Decameron post, he tended to take his sweet time on his commissions, and had essentially left Macy high and dry on this particular book well past the intended due date. Another setback was the death of Frederic Dorr Steele, noted artist of the Sherlock Holmes franchise. Macy asked Steele to revisit his great work for Doyle’s detective, and was getting on fairly well with forty redone pictures when sickness overwhelmed him, stealing him to the grave on July 7, 1944. Macy blames himself for this, which seems a little severe, but evidently Macy felt that his request may have been too much for Steele’s constitution. With three books (with the latter Holmes planned to be a five volume issuing over two months) missing in action, Macy scrambled to plug the gaps. This particular book was one of the plugs; Wendell L. Willkee’s One World was another (and probably one of the more eclectic choices ever released by the Club! Willkie’s claim to fame was as a politician, and a rather liberal one at that. Here’s his Wikipedia page. Willkee’s book was a travelogue of his time out meeting with Allied heads of state as Rossevelt’s “ambassador-at-large”, and the text also covered his meanderings with various citizens and soldiers in areas like Russia and Iran. Given Macy’s more conservative readership, I imagine that this one may not have been that popular!).
Anyway, back to this work. Waverly is the font of choice, with P.T. Barnum serving as the title font, Colonial for the initials and Bank Script serving as the “script lines”. Monadnock Paper Company supplied the paper, with William “Bill” Fortney’s Russell-Rutter Company providing their binding services. French “marbled gold paper” covers the boards (mine has some nasty fingerprint problems, alas) with white linen covering the spine, stamped in mud-brown ink for the title, author and illustrator information.
Title Page – Martin’s artwork is colored in shades of yellow, brown and white, and work pretty well with the material, if you ask me. Noted Gold Rush historian Oscar Lewis offers an introduction to Harte’s tales.
Examples of the Illustrations by Martin (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – My good friend Lois gave me this book recently after a visit to Half Price Books in Fremont, CA (quite an appropriate place to snag Harte’s work, if you know your California history!). I’ve read two of his tales, “The Luck of Roaring Camp” and “The Outcasts at Poker Flat”, and enjoyed them, so I’m happy to own this one at last.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
Updated 12/23/2013 by JF
August 10, 2013 Comments Off on Of Interest: Random House’s Edition of Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination
The second “Outside the Macy Sphere” book post is on Random House’s exquisite 1944 issuing of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, here simply titled Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. While the mystery and imagination have been exorcised from the title here, Fritz Eichenberg did his best through his woodcuts here to represent those fantastical notions. H. Wolff Book Manufacturing Company of New York printed up the work, and Margaret B. Evans served as the designer.
Front Binding – This is a nice, medium-sized book that was originally issued with a light blue slipcase, featuring a nice cerulean (if I’m mistaken, I apologize; I’m unfortunately quite familiar with the Crayola color wheel :0 ) fabric with black and gold stamps for the spine (as you’ll see below).
Title Page – Harvey Allen introduces the work, and, of course, Mr. Eichenberg serves up several woodcut illustrations that spice up most of the tales. He did one per tale from what I’ve noticed. Unfortunately, I do not have as many crisp shots as I would like for this post; only four of the six turned out really well, so I’ll likely add in a couple more whenever I photograph more books in the future.
Example Woodcuts by Eichenberg (right click to enlarge):
For contrast with the Macy publication, see here. Out of the two, I think both William Sharp and Eichenberg bring a chilling tone to their artwork in their own ways. I am quite fond of Eichenberg, as is well stated throughout this blog, but I feel Sharp also grasped the underlying terror and darkness swirling about Poe’s stories. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either edition!
April 29, 2012 § 6 Comments
The Aeneid by Virgil (1944)
LEC #163/15th Series V. 11
Sandglass Number 5H
Artwork: Illustrated by Carlotta Petrina
Translated and introduced by John Dryden
#890 of 1100
Click images to see larger views. LEC on the top, Heritage on the bottom.
Front Binding – Thanks to my UC Library, I can now properly compare Virgil’s Aeneid. This replaces the original post I made in 2011, but it’ll retain all of that information (and more, I hope). There is a stark difference in design on these two. The LEC goes for a much more refined approach, with lovely cloth boards with decadent wheat-like patterns and a cross-stitch. The teal-colored leather spine seals the deal. The Heritage, however, manages to outdo this fancy binding. Embossed with one of Carlotta Petrina’s illustrations, I was amazed when I first gazed upon this book. This was the origin of my passion for these books, you see. It is the very first Heritage Press book I ever owned. I’ll save further thoughts from my ownership of this book for later; let’s focus on the book itself. Both were designed by Robert L. Dothard of the Hildreth Press, who also happened to design The Innocent Voyage I posted earlier. I’ll let Django6924 explain the rest:
The text is set in a linotype face–14 point Old Style, on a laid, toned paper that the Sandglass mentions was difficult to acquire during the war rationing situation. The cover was unusual in that instead of the usual “blind-stamoing,” which impresses a design into the cover, this cover features one of Ms. Petrina’s designs embossed as a sort of bas-relief. This is one of those occasions where the design of the Heritage Press edition is far superior (as a design) to the rather staid LEC version.
The Connecticut Heritage is much more subdued than the New York. If I can remember I’ll snap a shot of its boards for comparative purposes before I sell it off.
Since I didn’t do it last time, let’s briefly touch upon author and artist. Virgil (or Publius Vergilius Maro) was one of Rome’s greatest poets, composing three known major works in his lifetime: The Aeneid, The Georgics, and The Eclogues. All three saw LEC releases. Georgics was done in 1952, and features the work of engraver Bruno Bramante and printer Giovanni Mardersteig. The last, Eclogues, was published in 1960 with painter Marcel Vertes rendering it.
Carlotta Petrina doesn’t seem to have a heap of accessible info online, but I’ll dictate her career for the George Macy Company as best I can. She began in 1932 with South Wind, and if my memory serves, she actually chatted with author Norman Douglas before getting to work. Those are rather nice illustrations in the LEC, but the one I’ve covered on the blog so far lack the original crispness and clarity. In 1936 she won accolades for her interpretation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Regained. These were not reprinted as a Heritage edition, instead using William Blake’s paintings. She joined 38 other artists to help create the LEC Shakespeare, her part being Henry the Sixth Part II. The Aeneid was the final commission for the LEC, and to my knowledge she did not do any exclusives for the Heritage Press.
Title Page – No real different here beyond the publisher info. It proudly proclaims John Dryden’s translation and Virgil’s name in red. Otherwise, a fairly humdrum title page. What I found interesting is that the copyright page says that the Heritage version explicitly required the use of this book from the Limited Editions Club, which considering their relatedness, strikes me as a little odd now.
Signature Page – What I find most curious about this book is the limitation. Normally 1500 LEC editions were released in Macy’s time owning the Club, yet here it says they made 1100 copies. Perhaps wartime forced the Club to dial back a bit on this edition? I’ll ask my LEC compatriots and see if they know. Anyway, this is #890 and is signed by Petrina in red.
Book I Art – Petrina’s art headlines each book of the epic poem. I find it fairly captivating stuff. The two are nigh identical, despite the photos suggesting that the LEC is lighter. I think the difference of sunlight is what’s making that happen. The quality in both is quite high, so your choice boils down to binding style preference and if Petrina’s signature means something to you.
Book V Art
Book VIII Art
Personal Notes – My very first book from the Heritage Press came from my local library in Mariposa, probably in 2007 or so. I think they asked $10, which for the incredible artistry I felt was more than deserving. I didn’t know about Sandglasses or much anything else about the Press back then, but considering I’ve (still) not seen the NY Heritage elsewhere, I think I made a smart choice. I’ve yet to read it, though. As I mentioned with The Ring and the Book, epic poems don’t tend to be up my alley (Beowulf seems to be the exception so far), but I’m sure I’ll give it a go one day. The LEC came from my UC Library, and although I do like the art a lot, I’m not too sure I want that edition more than several others.
Happen to have a LEC Newsletter? I could use its information to further flesh out this post! Leave me a note in the comments or at my thread at Librarything. Thanks!
October 24, 2011 § 6 Comments
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1944)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Roger Duvoisin
Introduced by William Rose Benet
Reprint of LEC #156/15th Series V. 4 in 1944
Front Binding – A charming cover for a set of nursery rhymes, eh? Roger Duvoisin’s a perfect fit for this book, I must admit, and the cover gives credence to my claim. Alas, this is a library copy, and it shows some significant wear on the corners and there’s a chunk of the centerpiece missing, but you get the idea of how nice this one is despite its flaws.
Duvoisin mostly did children’s works for the LEC and Heritage Press (and elsewhere), but I’ll let my prior comments for my Three-Cornered Hat post handle comments on his career, where I go into those details much more extensively. For here, I’ll merely add that this was his first LEC commission, and it’s a fitting one, too.
Now for the meat of this post – Robert Louis Stevenson was well loved by George Macy during his tenure. Six Stevenson works were greenlighted while Macy was alive, all of which (save the first, which is a little baffling to me as to why they picked those tales so early) were important pieces of his legacy in literature – Two Medieval Tales, book #6 of the LEC in 1929 with decorations by C.B Falls, Kidnapped in 1938 (with Hans Alexander Mueller rendering its art), Treasure Island in 1941 (Edward A. Wilson illustrated that one), this fine printing in 1944, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1952 (art also by Wilson), and The Beach of Falasa in 1956 (featuring Millard Sheets’ work), presumably being designed and planned before Macy’s death in May, 1956. Stevenson would continue to be a popular go-to for Helen Macy and Cardevon Press, as three more books would follow – Travels with a Donkey in 1957 (which reunited Duvoisin with Stevenson), The Master of Ballantre in 1965 (which Lynd Ward illustrated handsomely), and The New Arabian Nights in 1976 (Clarke Hutton did the honors here). All but the first and the last received Heritage editions, and the Heritage Press did not tackle any Stevenson works on their own accord. But nine separate works is not shabby at all – I believe that he’s the fourth most printed author from the Company, following Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain. Not bad company, that!
Title Page – William Rose Benet of Mother Goose fame (another work Duvoisin illustrated for the Heritage Press – coincidence?) offers an introduction in Stevenson’s tales, and, as I said, Duvoisin is ideal for this book. I have no clue on who designed it or how, so if you could let me know, I’d be most thankful.
Endpapers – Both endpapers feature this excellent two page illustration that is a great representation of how lovely Duvoisin’s art is for this.
Page 3 – He also did some black-and-white drawings, too.
Personal Notes – A very lovely book, one I’d like to own! Checked out from my local library.
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!
May 5, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Innocent Voyage by Richard Hughes (1944)
The Innocent Voyage by Richard Hughes (1944)
LEC # 175, 16th Series, V. 1
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Color Lithographs by Lynd Ward
Introduction by Louis Untermeyer
#542 out of 1500
Note – I wrote about my old Heritage Press edition a while back, which this post will replace. This one will now be the third comparison between the LEC original and Heritage reprint, and I hope you will enjoy seeing the differences! The LEC images will be up top.
Click images to see larger versions.
Front Binding – The premise is the same – a nice frontispiece of a little girl drawn by Lynd Ward, surrounded by a repeating and expanding box border. It’s the final execution that differs between the two editions. Here’s the LEC Announcement Letter to clarify some of the book design:
The front and back are identical on both books, and both were designed by Robert L. Dothard, owner of the E.L. Hildreth publishing house in Brattleboro, VT (thanks to Django6924 for this info prior to my acquiring my LEC). My Heritage copy, bound much more simply with a printing of this image stamped onto a creme cloth, had an unfortunate water spot on the back. Let’s pause and focus on the book at hand for a bit. The Innocent Voyage, better known these days as A High Wind in Jamaica, is the best known work of Richard Hughes, a British novelist. It is about a pirate crew who kidnaps a family of children who were trying to find a new home (theirs was destroyed by a hurricane) in the Caribbean, and of the time the kids are held hostage. The two sides rub off on each other over the duration, and eventually it is the pirates who are the victims. The girl on the cover is more than likely Emily Bas-Thornron, a major player in the tale who by its end manages to (SPOILER)
get the pirates hung for her own crime of murder (SPOILER END), making her a rather notable callous child in literature.
Spine – The Heritage is similar, minus the leather and gold leaf, natch.
Solander Case – Inside the slipcase is this very attractive solander case that covers the book, featuring Lynd Ward’s gorgeous lithograph of “A High Wind in Jamaica”. This image would be used as the endpapers in the Heritage edition.
Django2694 has more to comment on about the case and the Club’s choice of words on it:
Though the Monthly Letter describes the folding wrapper with the stunning “High Wind” lithograph as a solander, it is more properly a “chemise in a slipcase” rather than a solander. A solander is a box whereas a chemise is open and simply wraps around the book in its slipcase. (This is the reason that there is no title on the slipcase itself as the chemise faces out.) A chemise-wrapped book inside a slipcase was used several times by the LEC–for Vathek, School for Scandal, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to name a few. Solander boxes were used less frequently–Wilkie’s One World, Dead Souls, The Koran, and The Panchatantra are the only ones I have, though there are probably more. Here is Wikipedia’s excellent definition of a proper “solander”:
“Both lid and bottom sections of the box have three fixed side sections or “lips”; the lid is slightly larger so that the side pieces “nest” when the case is closed. The fourth “spine” side has flexible joints where it joins the main top and bottom pieces and so goes flat onto the surface where the box is opened. The front-edge of the case often contains a clasp for closure. The exterior is covered with heavy paper, fabric or leather, and its interior may be lined with padded paper or felt, especially if made for a book. All materials should be acid-free for conservation. The depth of the box is normally about five inches, if it is not made for a specific object, and various standard sizes are made, with traditional names including “royal”, “imperial”, “elephant” and others. Ones for very old books will typically be custom made to an exact size. The boxes are stored flat, and are strong enough to be kept in small stacks if required.”
LEC Slipcase – A white slipcase with no title on the back for this one – a little unusual for a LEC case, but with the solander case above as a bonus, I suppose the George Macy Company figured that was sufficient enough. I’d agree. :)
Title Page – The Heritage edition tries very hard to replicate Ward’s beautiful color lithographs (which I’ll let Django2694 explain for me in a moment, since he did it so well!), but there’s a slight edge to the LEC in terms of vibrancy and sharpness which makes these pop. It’s a testament to how much care and craft were put into these books. Here’s Django’s comments on the process:
The lithos in The Innocent Voyage are amazing in their Technicolor vibrancy and wide range of hues. They mark the first time Ward did other than monochrome lithos for Macy. Each of the five colors had to be done on a separate stone, and then overlaid in register–an incredibly complicated procedure. I quote from the Monthly Letter:
“…he had to draw each color on the flat, not knowing what the finished illustration would look like until he had drawn each of the five brilliant colors and could then possess himself of prints in which each color had been printed on top of the preceding color, or colors, in order to create the final compositions…twenty-five in all. Every one of these (in the LEC, and, I think, in the Heritage version as well), is an original lithograph, an auto-lithograph in color, printed directly from the flats upon which the artist made the drawings, without the interference of a photographic camera or paid operatives to work over the plates.”
The printing was done by George Miller, the acknowledged dean of American lithographers, who was honored by an exhibition of his life’s work in February, 1976, at the Smithsonian. Longtime Macy favorite Frank Fortney did the binding.
These became even more impressive knowing that Ward had no clue how the end result would turn out until he finished. Astounding. Here’s some more from Django about the book’s history and George Macy ranting a bit about the quality of the book (beginning with an excerpt from the LEC Monthly Letter – his own commentary follows):
“The page is certainly open and readable, but we do hope that you will find George Miller’s (who printed the lithographs) printing and Lynd Ward’s lithographs so unusually fine that you will not mind the fact that the Hildreth printing of the open and readable pages is not very good. We tell ourselves and can tell you, that many of our best pressmen are still at the front shooting at the Japs and Germans and, what is tragic for us, sometimes being shot at: so one must be patient.”
This is one of those times, which occur more than one might imagine, in the Monthly Letters when Macy–usually accused of only printing panegyrics about his books–is openly critical. He panned the LEC Green Mansions because he didn’t care for the airy type of the page (being a staunch and unwavering advocate of crisp, deeply stamped black type), and he had similar reservations about several other of the LEC output, one of which ended in the enmity between Macy and Grabhorn that lasted the rest of his life. It is also indicative, in the comment about shooting at Japs and Germans, of his fervent patriotism which manifested itself most strikingly in the legendary Heritage Press Ink and Blood.
Now, as I look through the book, I do not find the book unsatisfactory in any form, but Macy is allowed to find faults with his own books. It’s also right in the middle of World War II when this was published, so perhaps he was unhappy with losing a lot of his favorite presses to the war and felt that Dothard’s work was not up to the high standards he expected, but I think Macy’s damning of Hildreth’s work is a little harsh. Django2694 had some additional comments after his initial posting from before explaining Macy’s disdain:
Macy’s complaints about the presswork mostly relate to the kerning. In the days before computer-set type, the typesetters with the highest level of skill were masters at setting the ideal spacing between letters. This is purely a matter of the setter’s eye determining how much space there should be between each individual character to achieve a visually pleasing result. It’s a very subtle difference, and our discernment has been compromised by mass-market printing, but if you look at the lines of type in The Innocent Voyage, and compare them to a page from the Heritage Press edition of Emerson’s Essays, which was designed by John Henry Nash, you will see the difference in the grace of line.
You’ll see Emerson’s Essays soon enough, as it’s on my queue. ^_^
Signature Page – As you can see here, this is #542 out of 1500, and is signed in red by Lynd Ward. I’ve minimized my gushing for Ward’s excellence in this post thus far – let’s remedy that. :p Ward is definitely one of the George Macy Company’s finest choices for an illustrator – his dynamic style suits so many different books, which the Company picked up on. For example, out of what I own of Ward’s handiwork includes this, Beowulf, Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and The Master of Ballantre by Robert Louis Stevenson. He worked actively for the Clubs from his first contribution, The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade way back in 1932, to his last, 1975’s On Conciliation with America, and Other Papers on the American Revolution by Edmund Burke. In that span he illustrated thirteen LEC books, plus a Heritage exclusive Gargantua and Pantagruel. He was adapt at woodcutting and lithographic techniques. On top of that, he was revolutionizing the concept of a graphic novel, several of these being reprinted by the Library of America, which were put out a while back in a handsome edition. He’s also well regarded for his Frankenstein illustrations, which Dover reprints today (some samples can be seen here). In short, Ward was very much a legendary American artist in the twentieth century, and deserves more accolades than he seems to receive.
Page 19 – Again, Ward’s work is very well reproduced in the Heritage printing, but lacks the little something that the LEC original has to truly make it shine. The fine detail is gone, I suppose.
Personal Notes – The LEC I purchased at Moe’s in Berkeley for a cool $45, which I’m pleased with. I liked my old Heritage, but I fell in love with this edition, especially now that I have Ward’s signature. :) As for the Heritage, I don’t really know how I came into owning that book. It was likely a purchase from my local library or from volunteering at Page One, but I don’t have any recollection of where and when I got it. Due to its poor shape and lack of any redeeming collectible value (lacking a Sandglass or slipcase), I sold it off after acquiring the LEC.
As I am lacking a Sandglass, I need its Volume number printed on the front page of the Sandglass. Either comment here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! Thanks!
Special thanks to Django2694 from LibraryThing for additional insights.