Video Series #1 – My Very First Book, The Aeneid

Welcome to the first video for the George Macy Imagery Video Series, a look back on my very first Heritage Press book I ever owned, The Aeneid by Virgil! I also share my LEC edition for a bit of contrast. This is a first attempt to try to create some video content, and while I’m fairly pleased I can definitely improve my filming and audio recording in future episodes.

For the original post on these books: https://georgemacyimagery.wordpress.c…

Thank you for watching!

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.

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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.

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Slipcase

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Spine

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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):

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.

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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:

LEC:
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)

Heritage Press:
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.

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Slipcase

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Spine

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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):

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.

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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.

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Slipcase

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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

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.

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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).

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Spine

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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!