Heritage Press: All Men are Brothers by Shui Hu Chuan (1948)

January 17, 2014 § 4 Comments

All Men are Brothers by Shui Hu Chuan (1948)
Sandglass Number 9M
Artwork: Illustrations by Miguel Covarrubias
Translated by Pearl S. Buck, introduced by Lin Yutang
Reprint of LEC #191, 18th Series, V. 6, in 1948 in 2 volumes.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Finally, after four years of operation, Miguel Covarrubias makes his debut on my blog. Yikes.

Covarrubias is quite a big deal in the world of 2oth century art, and he also had a hand in Maya archaeology (which is something I’ve studied at my university), so I’ve heard quite a bit about him both in my book collecting and academic pursuits. All Men are Brothers, a Chinese novel that stands as a world classic, was Covarrubias’ final commission for the George Macy Company in 1948, one that dragged Macy through a very prolonged suffering as Covarrubias took his sweet time to illustrate the work (for more details, check the Announcement letter for the Heritage Decameron: here and here). Perhaps this was the straw that broke Macy’s back, as Covarrubias would not see another job from the Company, and he passed away in 1957, a considerable lapse of time that he easily could have performed multiple commissions. Regardless of my musings of Macy’s possible office decisions, Covarrubias’ career with the publications of the Limited Editions Club numbers five:

Batouala by Rene Maran (1932, no Heritage)
Typee by Herman Melville (1935, Heritage edition)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1938, Heritage edition)
The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz (1942, no Heritage edition. However, the Heritage Press did reuse the illustrations for their exclusive The Conquest of Mexico by W.H. Prescott; thanks to Django6924 for the clarification)
All Men are Brothers by Shui Hu Chuan (1948, Heritage edition)

Covarrubias also created an exclusive Heritage edition of Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson. Django6924 has some additional details:

The Heritage Press exclusive of “Green Mansions” with the Covarrubias illustrations was first issued by the Club in Series A (in fact it was the first Heritage Press book issued after the initial 6 books). Series A began in June, 1937 with “Green Mansions.” I believe the 1936 copyright date is for the illustrations as the LEC had copyrighted the text when they issued the LEC version with E.A. Wilson’s illustrations in 1935.

As for the book itself, All Men are Brothers is one of the few Chinese titles issued by the LEC in its run. Confucius was popular enough to warrant two editions of his Analects in 1933 and 1970, but that, alongside this book, is it. The Sandglass provides some details on the history of this particular book, for those curious about its past. The “Robin Hood” comparisons are interesting to me, as I happen to like the mythos of Sherwood Forest’s outlaw.

Design Notes – There is no mention of a designer, which usually means Mr. Macy was the one in charge (which Django6924 confirms). It is a rather large volume, at 8.25 x 11.5 inches. Original Old Style 12-point is the font, with calligraphy performed by Jeanyee Yong serving as headlines/chapter titles. Covarrubias did all of the Chinese symbols that appear in the artwork. The art was done as line-drawings that were turned into engravings, and then Covarrubias colored the prints via bold paints apropos for the work. These colors were then converted to rubber plates to be printed. Wong was also called in to perform the writing on the spine and front binding. The bindery is absent. For contrast, devotee Parchment passes along his LEC colophon, which is loaded with the production details for that edition:

LEC Colophon

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Slipcase – It’s hard to tell here, but the case is yellow as the Sandglass notes.

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Title Page – Pearl S. Buck, probably the best-known Euro-American author to write about China, and the author of The Good Earth, had her sole LEC contribution be the translation of Shui Hu Chuan’s text here. It was not done for the LEC, as John Day originally published it in 1933, but the Sandglass exudes respect for the four years of hard work and care Buck applied to the English rendering of this novel. Lin Yutang, a noted Chinese translator/writer in his own right, provides the introduction. This book really is a cavalcade of talent!

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

Personal Notes – This is a book I’ve coveted for a long, long time. I picked it up at last from the Oakhurst Library collectible sale last September, and I have no regrets. A masterful book all the way around.

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

Limited Editions Club – Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1938/1948)

August 29, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1938/1948)

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1938 Heritage/1948 LEC)
Sandglass Number 6BR
Artwork – Wood Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garrett, introduced by Lawrence Irving
Heritage Press original, reprinted as LEC #189/18th Series V. 4 in 1948
LEC #1500 of 1500

Note – I have added the Monthly Letter from the LEC edition to the post, but have not put in those details into the post yet. It will happen in time.

Click the images for larger views.  Heritage will be on top, LEC on bottom.

Front Bindings – Crime and Punishment is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s most legendary work, and it has been ravishingly designed for both its Heritage and LEC editions.  Occasionally the Heritage Press would have their edition come out first, with a LEC two-volume reprint following that – this is another example of this (Moll Flanders and Beowulf are two others I know of).  Both went with a striking red for its boards, with a black block inlay of a cross and axe done by the book’s illustrator Fritz Eichenberg.  This was, to my knowledge, Eichenberg’s very first commission for the George Macy Company, and it wouldn’t be his last.  In fact, he would illustrate books for the LEC until 1986, when his last work, The Diary of a Country Priest, would be released by Sidney Shiff’s Limited Editions Club.  Almost 50 years of illustrating magic!  As of right now, I’ve got two other books up with Eichenberg’s work for those curious to see more – the LEC House of the Dead, also by Dostoevsky, and the Heritage Eugene Onegin by Pushkin.

The Heritage original was designed by Carl Purington Rollins, the printer at Yale University in 1938.  kdweber at Librarything was nice enough to pass along the LEC design info:

The LEC Crime and Punishment was designed by George Macy himself. Printed by E. L. Hildreth and Company; set in linotype Original Old Style, Worthy special paper; bound by Russell-Rutter Company.

Russell-Rutter did the binding for the Heritage as well.

Slipcase – The Heritage went black, the LEC went red.  Oddly, there’s no label or printing on the LEC slipcase indicating what it is, which is a little weird.  Maybe I’m missing a interior case.

Title Page – The Heritage and LEC title pages are radically different in structure, and I musy admit a preference to the LEC in this case – the use of color makes it pop more, and I like Eichenberg’s cross by the title.  Goudy Modern is the font chosen by Rollins for the Heritage, while the LEC was “set in linotype Original Old Style”, to quote kdweber.  To wrap up the Heritage printing information, Ferris Printing did the etching/text printing honors on Crocker-Burbank Co. paper made especially for the Heritage original.  George Macy went with the popular Constance Garrett translation, and Laurence Irving provides an introduction to both volumes (the Heritage omits mentioning him for some reason).

Signature Page – I must admit to being a little tickled at having #1500 for this book.  Eichenberg’s signature is nice, too, as I adore his work.  Eichenberg’s wood blocks were reused for the LEC edition by George Macy’s own printers, which is pretty neat.

Page 1/Part One Introduction – More stylistic diversions here, as the Heritage begins Part 1 with the first Chapter on the same page, but the LEC makes a special introductory page for Part 1, and then starts Chapter 1 on the next page.

Page 18/Page 17 – Eichenberg, you don’t fail to astound me.

Personal Notes – I bought the Heritage first at a library book sale in Oakhurst in 2009 or so, with a bevy of other books in what was my best haul at the time (I just topped it a couple weeks back).  I paid $3 – 4 for it, I think…may have been $2.  Not bad for a complete Heritage book.  I got the LEC this past May from my former anthropology instructor, who won it at a local auction and asked me if I wanted it.  That was a silly question.  I owe him $50 for it whenever I can get it to him.  I prefer the LEC, but both are excellent books!

Monthly Letter:

Sandglass

Heritage Press – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (1948)

July 7, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (1948)

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (1948)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork
: Illustrations by Honore Guilbeau
Introduced by Carl Van Doren
Reprint of LEC #196/18th Series V. 11 in 1949

Click the images for larger views.

Front Binding – A pleasant enough looking book, with a smiling lad in armor waving at you! The linework of Honore Guilbeau, last seen inside of The Shaving of Shagpat, is strikingly different in style from the later book. Personally, I’m inclined to believe that this may be her finest art inside of a Macy tome. The aforementioned Shagpat chronicles her George Macy Company career. Back to the boards: blue cloth boards and a yellow cloth spine, with red text for the spine.

Mark Twain has one of the more prestigious and extended printing histories in the George Macy Company. I’ve yet to fully give a full bibliography of the LEC output for Twain, so why not now? A whopping twelve LEC’s were issued with Twain’s words inside, beginning in 1933 with the first publication of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Original illustrator E.W. Kemble was resurrected to provide that edition some artistic flair, and Carl Purrington Rollins took on the design. Slovenly Peter, Twain’s translation of the German children’s story Struwwelpeter, was next in 1935. His daughter Clara Clemens gave an introduction on that, and Fritz Kredel would do his first rendering of Twain. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer came out in 1939 starring Thomas Hart Benton’s paintings. Benton and Twain would reunite in 1942 to redo Huck Finn, and again in 1944 for Life on the Mississippi. The book this post is discussing was originally released in 1949 (curious why the Heritage gives a copyright of 1948). Twain would take a small vacation through the 1950’s, but Helen Macy remembered that there was a slew of Twain left to publish, and began with The Innocents Abroad in 1962. Kredel returns to the world of Twain to illustrate that one. 1964 saw The Prince and the Pauper come out, and Clarke Hutton stepped in to provide his art for that. A Tramp Abroad followed in 1966, and David Knight handled illustration duties (with a dozen doodles by Twain included). When Cardevon took over the LEC, they kept on publishing Twain, with 1970’s The Notorious Jumping Frog and Other Stories; Joseph Low doodled for that one. Roughing It was 1972’s offering of Twain, with Noel Sickles doing some art for that, and we finally wind down to 1974’s printing of Pudd’nhead Wilson. John Groth did some painting and drawings for that. *whew*

Wish I could say I was done, but no, there’s a bit more in terms of Heritage exclusives to cover! Norman Rockwell was recruited to do editions of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Lastly, Warren Chappel was called in to do his own version of this particular book. Huh, I’ll need to find that one.

I now have the Sandglass for this, so I’ll get around to scanning it in the near future.

Slipcase

Title Page – Guilbeau’s design chops are highlighted in this book, as her leafy embellishments add a lot to this eye-catching title page. I LOVE the font used here. Carl Van Doren provides some introductory comments to Twain’s fantasy/humor novel.

Page 8 – Man, I love the layouts of the chapter beginnings. The red lines are a delightful contrast to the black text, and I think this may be one of my favorite interiors in any book.

Page 29

Personal Notes – When I first wrote up this post, I used a library copy. Now I do own it, and I’m pleased as punch. I really like this book.

Sandglass (forthcoming)

Updated 8/27/2013 – JF

Heritage Press: John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benet (1948)

January 24, 2011 § 6 Comments

John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benet (1948)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: Paintings by John Steuart Curry
Introduced by Douglas Southall Freeman
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #192/18th Series V. 7 in 1948

Click images for a larger view.


Front Binding – A fairly basic cover with John Brown’s Body boldly circled in the center in blue and gold.  I did some slight Photoshopping to remove a library UPC symbol from the cover, as this is not mine.  Django2694 has a treasure trove of information to share:

John Brown’s Body–better late than never, I suppose, but there is a considerable story behind this book that I haven’t had time to go into until now.

Along with the Monthly Letter, in my copy was an additional mailing from the LEC which went out with the Monthly Letter which mentions it thus:

“What he {Francis Meynell} did, in making a typographic plan for this American edition of a great American book, at this moment seems to us an object lesson in the work of a typographer. So we have decided to print, as a separate leaflet for inclusion with this issue of this not-always-Monthly Letter, the letter which Francis Meynell sent us on the twentieth of August in 1946; and, in addition, the forward which he later prepared for inclusion in the book itself.

For that reason we will not list the physical qualities of this book here. If you are not interested, you can throw the separate leaflet into the waste-basket; where, indeed, you may have already thrown it along with this Monthly Letter.”

The accompanying leaflet is a 7-page pamphlet titled “What a Typographer Does To/For/With A Book” It contains very elaborate notes on the font, layout, ornamentation, paper and embellishments. Meynell was the original advocate behind the LEC’s decision to produce this book (more about this later), and he had given much thought to how to present the poem in a way that would help the reader–who he assumed with some justification would not be normally in the habit of reading book-length poems. Thus he came up with his own “chapter headings,” as he referred to them–“Ellyat’s Tune,” and “Wingate’s Tune,” for example. It is a fascinating portrait of one of the great book designers of the 20th century approaching a text he really loved and determining how to set it in its best appearance on the page.

How much he was an advocate of this book becomes very clear when we fast forward 9 years. Francis Meynell is giving the Address on the Dedication of the George Macy Memorial Collection at Columbia University (Macy’s alma mater). After the expected eulogistic remarks, Meynell tells a personal anecdote which he feels is most illustrative of “Macy’s general attitude towards book-making.”

He goes on to say how he had written Macy in January of 1944 extolling the virtues of Benet’s John Brown’s Body, begging him to put it on the LEC’s schedule of publications and letting himself (Meynell) design it. Five weeks later Macy responds that he was delighted with Meynell’s burst of enthusiasm for the work, but adds “there are, of course, many other tellings of the John Brown story. I will arrange to send you God’s Angry Man, which seems a superior telling to me.”

There the matter sat for two years–or so it seemed to Meynell–when suddenly Meynell received a letter from Macy saying “you wrote me recently in a burst of enthusiasm for John Brown’s Body to say that you would like to plan a new edition typographically. The time has come, it is here.” This letter goes on to describe what was probably behind the impetus for the project–the completion of a series of paintings illustrating the poem by Curry. I think probably Macy commissioned these illustrations when the furore over Curry’s John Brown mural in the Kansas State Capitol building collided with his memory of Meynell’s burst of enthusiasm for a work Macy obviously did not think that much of. This letter ends with Macy urging Meynell to complete this design ASAP. When Meynell had not sent anything after four months, Macy telegrammed him, “I am very anxious to have the typographic plan for John Brown’s Body since the illustrations are languishing for reproduction.”

When Macy arrived in London to look at the plan, the two men came to an impasse over Curry’s illustrations. It seems obvious that they had been the deciding factor in Macy going ahead with the project, but Meynell objected, feeling that the poem was illustration enough in itself. They reached a rough compromise with deciding to put the illustrations in a pocket in the binding–not interleaved in the pages of the poem. But a year later, during which interval Curry had died suddenly of a heart attack, Macy wrote to Meynell that he had been puzzling over the inclusion of the illustrations and had almost wished it were possible to strike the book from the production schedule. Finally, he had decided to go ahead with an edition which would give Curry’s illustrations “the prominence which he expected to have” and says he therefore planned to proceed with an entirely new typographic plan made in the US.

An impasse followed in which “Cold War telegrams” were exchanged, and the long-standing friendship between the two men seemed on the verge of collapse until Macy visited London again, greeted Meynell with “his fantastically, his annoyingly, persuasive charm, the contest was over, and he had of course won hands down.” The book came out with Meynell’s plan and the extra letter which showcased Meynell’s design genius–and with Curry’s art reproduced as he had wished it. Even though one suspects Meynell still had reservations about this latter, he remarks several times in tones of admiration about Macy’s loyalty to the artist.

A few years later when Macy and his family attended a dramatic reading of the poem–a production that even ran on Broadway starring Tyrone Power, Judith Anderson, and Raymond Massey, and directed by Charles Laughton. Macy sent Meynell the playbill autographed by his family and inscribed “To our beloved Francis–we have looked on ‘John Brown’s Body’ and we think of you.”

As a final to this anecdote, Meynell reveals that Macy, in printing Meynell’s original enthusiastic letter of proposal,

“monstrously, unjustifiably, but quite delightfully…inserted a few words. He makes me write ‘Did you ever hear of it {the poem}? Is it at all known in America?’ Those words are wholly his, not mine! He invented them in order to raise a smile at the superior, the condescending Englishman! And a smile they did raise….”

It’s hard to imagine the head of Easton Press or the Folio Society or A.A.Knopf acting in similar fashion these days. But these men–Knopf, Macy, Meynell, Liverwright, Scribner, etc. weren’t just those corporate executives whose main concern is the bottom line and who don’t really care whether they sold limited editions or soap flakes. They were booklovers, and were engagingly human in their business.

Title Page – John Steuart Curry has some notoriety painting John Brown in the past – see the Kansas State Captiol website for his more infamous depiction. This shows Brown as a crazed-looking man out for blood, which was a common motif for illustrating Brown in the days of segregation to make him look wild and insane. Here, Curry curtails his rendering of Brown to a fairer portrait of the man, more in tune to how he actually was…although he still has some intense eyes.  Curry supplied fourteen illustrations to the Limited Editions Club for this book, and would also provide the artwork for three other LEC’s – The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, The Prairie by James Fenimore Cooper, and The Literary Works of Abraham Lincoln.  This was his last work for the LEC, and it seems that he died before it was released, as the LEC was unsigned (he did sign the earlier three).  Along with Douglas Southall Freeman’s introduction, Benet himself has a brief preface.

Page 48 – Nice colors, here.  I like this one most from this book, although I will admit that Curry does little for me.

Page 188

Personal Notes – I checked this out from my local library in Mariposa, although I have seen a few copies for sale, too.  It’s not too high on my list, though, as I’m not too keen on Curry’s work.

Finding a Sandglass with a library copy is rare, and this is one of the all too common occurrences where such documentation has been lost.  If you have any info on the book’s Sandglass number, please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

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