Limited Editions Club – The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1949)

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1949)
LEC #201/19th Series V. 5 in 1949
Artwork: Color drawings by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated, edited, preface by M.F.K. Fisher, with additional preface by the author

#1060 of 1500. Heritage Press edition available.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – Hello friends, we have returned with new posts! We will take a short break from Shakespeare to instead focus in on a vastly different work, The Physiology of Taste. Its author, lawyer and politician Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, published the work shortly before his death, and the extended essay tackles the topic of gastronomy (the study of food and culture). It popularized the concept of a low-carb diet, as well as extolling the virtues of food and drink. It has never been out of print since its original 1825 pub date, and in 1949 the Limited Editions Club commissioned a brand new translation by food critic M.F.K. Fisher, who commented how blessed she was to be able to perform this task. The Heritage Press would reissue this later on.

Brillat-Savarin only had this sole title printed by Macy, but its illustrator, Sylvain Sauvage, has had a far more diverse portfolio for the two George Macy Company publishing houses. I go over his bibliography in my post on Zadig, which shares one particular trait with this edition; it was published after Sauvage passed away. Here his drawings are colored simply, without the rich watercolors seen in Zadig or Cyrano de Bergerac. I suspect this may have to do with Sauvage’s death, but the colophon and Quarto-Millenary don’t address WHO exactly did the coloring for this book to begin with, so for now I’ll let the thought lie.

Design Notes – Here’s what the Quarto-Millenary has to say about the design:

The colophon notes Herbert Rau did the prints of the illustrations via rubber line-plates.

Spine – As you can see, the spine here is not doing super well. A common problem with certain LEC volumes with pigskin leather is that it has shown a high tendency to flake, and this copy is suffering such a fate. According to GMD member Glacierman:

The problem with pigskin is that unless it is used at full thickness, it is weak and prone to rapid wear. It appears to me that they probably split the hides used for this book resulting in a weak leather. I have several books bound in pigskin where it was used full thickness and the bindings on these are tough as nails.


Title Page – Fisher was heavily involved with this publication, translating the entire work, adding in several annotations, performing some editing, and writing a preface. A preface from the author is also included.

Colophon – This is #1060 of 1500, and was issued unsigned due to Sauvage’s passing.

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

Personal Notes – I purchased this from Old Capitol Books in Monterey on my recent vacation. While the spine is concerning, it is otherwise in excellent condition.

Heritage Press – The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor (1949)

The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor (1949)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Edward A. Wilson
Introduction by C.S. Forester; Translated by J.C. Mardrus (Arabic to French) and E. Powys Mathers (French to English)
Reprint of LEC #198, 19th Series, V. 2 in 1949.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Today’s book is The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor, a collection of the folktales of the titular protagonist. These tales hail from the Middle East, featuring the supernatural and the sensational. No single author is credited with these stories, but they have been around for a very long time, and it’s nice to see them in such a nice edition.

Edward A. Wilson, a frequent artistic contributor, stepped in to provide his touch to this book, and he’s a really good fit, I’d say. I like Wilson’s work in the more fantastical realm; it works well with his bold color palette and his gentle linework. His LEC/Heritage bibliography can be found here.

I can’t go into thorough design notes, as I have no Sandglass. Sorry!


Title Page – C.S. Forester, author of the Horatio Hornblower series of novels, provides the introduction. Two translators reworked the text for this edition: J.C. Mardrus, who converted the original Arabic texts into French, and E. Powys Mathers, who took Mardrus’ French and worked it into modern English.

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


Personal Notes – The photos came from a library copy, but I acquired my own Heritage book from Liz shortly thereafter. I’ve also read the work, and it’s pretty entertaining!

Limited Editions Club – The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning (1949)

The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning (1949)
LEC #194/18th Series V. 9 in 1949 in 2 volumes
Artwork: Engravings by Carl Schultheiss
Introduced by Edward Dowden
LEC #1388 of 1500

Click images to see larger views. The LEC edition is on top; Heritage bottom.


Front Binding – It’s time once more for a thorough LEC/Heritage comparison, and this go-around we have a book I covered long ago: The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning. That post was sparse on details due to the lack of a Sandglass (and my lack of in-depth information on Browning, Carl Schultheiss, and the design), so I’m rewriting this whole thing to provide you, my fine readers, a much better glimpse into this lovely edition. The biggest difference between the LEC and the Heritage is the volume count: the LEC opted for two books, while the Heritage slams everything into an enormous tome. The next most obvious difference is the color scheme. The LEC utilizes a lovely grayish-blue paper for its boards, offset by a luscious red leather for the spine. The Heritage…goes with salmon pink boards and a sea foam green spine. Not exactly the most pleasing of colors, I must admit. I do not know why these were chosen for the Heritage readership, but I prefer the LEC’s selection far more.

Robert Browning was one half of one of the most famous poetic couples in literary history. His wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was renowned as much if not more than her husband, and the LEC issued her Sonnets of the Portuguese one year before Mr. Browning received his first LEC, which is this particular volume. Valenti Angelo served as Mrs. Browning’s illustrator. Robert would get a second LEC twenty years later when a compendium of his poems was issued in the George Macy Company’s twilight year of 1969, with Peter Reddick providing the artwork.

Carl Schultheiss has a lovely bio of how he came to be involved with the George Macy Company in the Monthly Letter below, but I’ll briefly summarize it here. Schultheiss came to America in 1940 after establishing a name for himself in the engraving world in Germany, and entered the Club’s third competition for artwork accompanying their books. The Club was dumbfounded that Schultheiss, then world-renowned, would participate, and they immediately set out to see if the engraver would perform a commission for their readers. Schultheiss had many books he wanted to do, but nearly all of them were titles put out by the Club in past years. One, however, was not: The Ring and the Book. The Club hired Schultheiss to compose copper-plate engravings, and planned to print them by hand for their readership. 16 engravings out of 22 were selected, and thus we have this lovely book. Alas, Schultheiss never did a second work for the company.

Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks were responsible for the printing and design of this book, and as seems to be the case for them, they knocked it out of the park. The Letter feels pretty strongly about this, as well, as they heap tons of praise on the family-run press. Saul designed the binding, while Lillian tackled the page design. 16 point Garamond was chosen to be the font, which was deliberately kerned together to promote a easy flow to the eyes. Pages were printed four at a time; a monumental undertaking given the number of pages in the book and that 1500 copies (plus the few lettered editions out there) had to be made! The reasoning was that the small print runs would provide the perfect amount of ink to each letter, preventing any bleeding, smudging or other printing anomaly. John Anderson was responsible for hand-printing Schultheiss’ engravings, and he delivered. The bindery is not explicitly mentioned, but the Marks were likely the ones to handle it.


Back Binding – This ornamental piece gives the back a little more artistic flair than most of the other Macy books I own. Saul designed these.


Spine (LEC)


Slipcase (LEC)


Title Page –  Edward Dowden provides the introduction. You’ll notice that the title engravings are different between the editions, and that the LEC specifies the Plantin Press’ involvement.


Colophon – Schultheiss signs this edtion, and this is #1388 of 1500 copies.

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

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

Personal Notes – I have some backstory on this title, as I’ve owned it three different times in three different editions. XD I was first given this book by my good friend Lois in exchange for a HP Poems of Robert Browning I bought at the anthropology club book sale (see Yates).  I used to volunteer for Lois when she ran her own used book shop, and we had a very solid friendship. Unfortunately, this first book (which formed the basis of the original post) lacked a Sandglass and slipcase, and I sold it off due to its incompleteness and somewhat beaten status. I got a second HP in January 2014 (or so) from the Oakhurst Library collectible sale. I wanted to properly read it, and for $3 or 4, it was worth a second dip.

When I went to Monterey a few years ago, I went to the impeccable Carpe Diem Fine Books, and they had the LEC at a reasonable price of $125. My ex bought it for me as a graduation present.

Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):

I don’t have a Sandglass to share with you for comparative purposes, unfortunately.

Heritage Press – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)
Sandglass Number 5N
Artwork: Illustrations by Mariette Lydis
Introduced by Carl Van Doren
Reprint of LEC #199, 19th Series, V. 3, in 1949.

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – American-turned-Briton James returns for his third appearance on the blog with The Turn of the Screw, one of his best known works. The prior appearances were Portrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors. Portrait features James’ Macy output. This is a rather bold binding, one we’re discuss shortly. I’m in the middle of reading this myself, and the story is quite solid, I must say.

Our two prior James novels had one-shot artists in charge of their illustrations, but Turn features an alumni of decorating a Macy tome: Mariette Lydis. Granted, she only did three books for the LEC — this, The Beggar’s Opera way back in 1937, and Love’s Labour’s Lost for the LEC Shakespeare line in 1939 — but her style is quite unique and visually striking. She matches the haunting atmosphere of James’ words quite well, in my opinion. This could be because she had illustrated the book before for the Hand and Flower Press of England. Macy’s original intent was to license Lydis’ work from that edition, but upon reconnecting with Lydis (who had moved to Brazil since her last commission) she insisted that she draw anew instead of recycle her older work, and thus a new set of illustrations! More on Lydis can be found in the Sandglass…more than you will find on James, to be honest! According to the Sandglass, this would have been the first time the Company licensed artwork that they themselves did not commission. However, after my initial posting, Django6924 was quick to point out:

Actually, the Sandglass is perhaps being somewhat absent-minded on the matter of reusing illustrations: the LEC in its first half-dozen years re-used Tenniel’s illustrations for the Lewis Carroll books, Kemble’s for Huckleberry Finn, Cruikshank’s for Punch and Judy, W.M. Thackeray’s for The Rose and the Ring though redone by Kredel (not to mention the HP Vanity Fair with Thackeray’s artwork), Hugh Thomson’s for The Cricket on the Hearth, the English version of the 2-volume Salome featuring Beardsley’s artwork, Hoffman’s original artwork for Slovenly Peter (albeit adapted by Kredel), the French version of Flowers of Evil with Rodin’s drawings, The Pilgrim’s Progress with William Blake’s artwork, and the period engravings for Aesop’s Fables, redrawn by Bruce Rogers.

However, in a curious case of memory failure, the Sandglass seems to have also forgotten how Mr. Macy made Ms. Lydis’ acquaintance, for in the Sandglass for The Beggar’s Opera, one reads:

In 1936, she came to New York {from Paris} for an exhibition of her paintings and her book illustrations…While she was here, she was told of The Limited Editions Club’s Second Competition for Book Illustrators, and she immediately submitted a series of lithographs to illustrate The Beggar’s Opera. The judges awarded her one of the prizes.

Things are a bit muddled here, as after winning the prize the LEC Directors decided to produce an illustrated edition of The Beggar’s Opera and had pulls made of Ms. Lydis’ art to illustrate said edition…so, one could say that the cart didn’t come before the horse, but one could as easily say that The Beggar’s Opera illustrations were really done before they were commissioned.

If, since most of these except for the reuse of the Thomson and Blake artwork, the originals were redrawn and/or colored you are willing to say that there was no prior reuse of existing art, then the first acknowledged case of such would either be the use of Piranesi’s etchings for The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire or Pierre Watrin’s illustrations for The Revolt of the Angels.

So, I suppose either the Sandglass author made a critical oversight or their definition of “licensing art” is radically different from ours! Thanks as always to Django6924 for the extra details.

Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks were the designers for this book. Some of their work previously featured on the blog before includes The Three-Cornered Hat and The Revolt of the AngelsThis is yet another brilliant execution of book design. The Marks chose Bembo for the font in a 16-point size, and chose floral “printer’s marks” as ornaments to help give the pages more flourish. The original pages from the LEC were sent to Macy in order to have photographic reproduction done for the Heritage edition; Duenewald Printing Corporation handled the task. Russell-Rutter bound the book with a brown linen with silver leaves elegantly placed to symbolically suggest the “screw”.




Title Page – Reader’s Club judge and frequent Introduction writer/book editor Carl Van Doren is summoned once more to give some history to a Macy publication.  He was a major contributor to Macy’s publications, being involved with The Federalist Papers, Penguin Island (LEC), The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Iliad (Heritage) and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (LEC), among others.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this from Bookhaven (now Old Capitol Books) in Monterey two or three years ago. It’s quite a lovely book. The LEC is not all that different design-wise, but the materials are far more exquisite. And, as I said before, the story is (so far) quite good!

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

Heritage Press: The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (unstated, 1949)

The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (unstated, 1949)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduction by Thomas Craven, translation/editing by John Addington Symonds
Reprint of LEC #86, 8th Series, V. 4 in 1937.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Okay, I have had this post sitting in idle for months, and I’d like to get it out into the open!  Cellini’s memoirs were originally done for the Limited Editions Club in 1939, printed in Verona at the Officina Bodoni. Django6924 was kind enough to fill in some of the details on the book’s Heritage publication:

…the Life of Benvenuto Cellini was first issued in July, 1949. From my research, this is apparently the only time it was issued, although I remember having this book in the late 1960s when I was a member of the Heritage Club, but checking Bussacco’s Checklist, there is no record of it having been issued after Series N (June, 1949–May, 1950). Unhappily, I sold that edition in the 1970s so I don’t have the Sandglass, but I do have the LEC edition and Monthly Letter and can add a few interesting facts.

Cellini’s autobiography was among the most requested books in the polls conducted of the LEC subscribers in the early years of the Club. Symond’s translation was very popular, but I imagine what particularly stimulated interest was the very successful 1934 motion picture, “The Affairs of Cellini,” starring Frederic March (an early and lifelong LEC subscriber, incidentally, and friend of Macy’s), which was not really based on the Life but on the play “The Firebrand,” by Edwin Mayer (who later adapted it as a musical with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin). When it was decided to issue the autobiography, a contest was held by the LEC for book illustrators (the Life was one of 30 titles submitted to over 400 illustrators), and the title most chosen for illustration by these worthies was Cellini’s book. Cyril Bouda, C. Pal Molnar, and Valenti Angelo were among the artists who sent in sample art for Cellini, but the judges felt Kredel’s samples captured best Cellini’s nervous, and yet meticulous style.

The Officina Bodoni was chosen “for sentimental and practical reasons,” but apparently Signor Mardersteig changed his mind about the design of the book, for though the original prospectus for the LEC series described a 2-volume Life, Mardersteig decided that one large book with double printed columns could hold all the text in a single volume. One senses in the description of this in the Monthly Letter that Macy himself was not a fan of double columns, but nevertheless he praises the way it is laid out. The typeface is Monotype Bembo, a face designed by the great Aldus Manutius, a near contemporary of Cellini, and printed on a 100% linen rag paper made by Cartiere di Maslianica in Milano. The binding was especially woven for the book using a pattern made up of the Florentine lily, and the rampant lion from Cellini’s coat-of-arms. The binding is identical to the Heritage binding, so either the Officina had a lot left over, or it was recreated for the Heritage edition after the war (the war I suspect is the reason the book itself was issued as a Heritage book so long after the LEC version).

This was Fritz Kredel’s third commission for the Limited Editions Club.  I see that I have neglected putting up his full commission list in the past, but I’ll rectify that on an older post.  For now, you can see his other work I’ve spotlighted here.

Benvenuto Cellini was himself a busy fellow, leading the way as one of the more important artists in the Mannerism school, and was busy in other fields like music, goldsmithing, and writing (this particular book in fact!).  This is his sole publication in the LEC/HP bibliography.

Title Page – John Addington Symonds translated Cellini’s words into English, and also served as an editor for this edition.  Thomas Craven introduces the book.  Kredel’s work is not full page size, but the detail is pretty incredible regardless!

Page 3

Page 7

Personal Notes – Borrowed from the library…that’s about all I can add!  However, Django6924 has this fascinating tidbit to say:

An interesting followup to the LEC edition was a notice in the Monthly Letter for The Ballad of Reading Gaol–the following month. The Directors of the LEC were compiling a list of the top 50 bookbinders in the world, and were going to send those 50 an offer to bind one of the 50 copies of the unbound sheets for The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (the LEC apparently always made extra sets of pages for each edition). Those that accepted would be paid and all the bound books were to be sent around the world as an exhibition of the state of the bookbinder’s art in the late 1930s. Whatever came of this fascinating plan is a mystery–at least to me–and one would love to have known who was on the list, who accepted if the plan was carried through, and what happened to those books?

What did happen to that idea, I wonder?  Big thanks to Django6924 for the additional comments!