May 12, 2018 § 7 Comments
The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni (1951)
LEC #217/20th Series V. 9 in 1951
Artwork: Engravings by Francisco Gonin redone by Bruno Bramanti
Revised translation and Introduction by Ronald H. Boothroyd
#92 of 1500.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding – Hello friends! It’s been a few months, but I have acquired a couple new LEC editions that I am eager to catalog! The first is The Betrothed, known in Italy as I Promessi Sposi. Dubbed one of Italy’s most important novels, the work was the sole work of its author Alessandro Manzoni to see a Limited Editions Club issue, but it sounds fairly interesting based on the little research I performed. The text is taken from the 1844 translation spruced up by Ronald H. Boothroyd for this publication.
Much like the text, the artistic direction also takes from the past; in this case, Francesco Gonin’s wood engravings issued in 1840 for the original Italian release commissioned by Manzoni. To modernize those for this book’s release, Bruno Bramanti was recruited to recreate them via his own set of wood engravings. Bramanti would reunite with Hans Mardersteig for their next two LEC commissions The Georgics and The Gallic Wars, but would provide his own unique cuts for those volumes.
Design Notes – Giovanni “Hans” Mardersteig at the Officina Bodoni in Verona, Italy served as designer, with the Officina acting as the printer and bindery. Mardersteig handled several books for the LEC, although this is the first one we’ve seen on the blog from the Limited Editions Club proper; although we have covered a few Heritage reprints. The esteemed printing house has been tied with George Macy since the second series with The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1931, followed by The Divine Comedy in 1933, Imaginary Conversations in 1936, The Life of Benvenuto Cellini in 1937, this volume in 1951, The Georgics in 1952, The Gallic Wars in 1954, The Last Days of Pompeii in 1956, Metamorphosis in 1958, Quo Vadis? in 1959, Toilers of the Sea in 1960, The Trial and Death of Socrates in 1962, The Lives of the Twelve Casears in 1963, The Sonnets of Petrarch in 1965, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters in 1966, The History of Early Rome in 1970, and The Renaissance in 1976. You’ll notice a large gap in years between Cellini and today’s topic; as a printer based in Italy, you can likely suspect that the country’s role in World War II had a significant impact on their operations, especially with American-based companies. But back to our book at hand: the font chosen was Garamond, which was printed on Fabriano paper along with Bramanti’s engravings. A half-natural Italian linen was used to bind the boards, and the spine features a gray-linen block stamped in gold. The book has hand-painted paper sides.
Dustjacket – A curious addition to any Limited Editions volume; the only other edition I personally have with a paper sleeve is Vanity Fair. According to the Quarto, this was a tradition for the Officina Bodoni publications. What’s neat is that it also has the limitation number painted on the spine as well (see below).
Spine – Unfortunately this book suffered some foxing while it was in storage, but I intend to try to curb it in the future. Thankfully it does have the paper sleeve to help hide the damage.
Title Page – As noted above, Boothroyd updated the 1844 translation, but also served as the book’s Introduction writer.
Colophon – This is copy 92 of 1500 and signed by Bramanti and Mardersteig.
Examples of the Illustrations by Gonin/Bramanti (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – My dear friend and resource Robert (Django6924) had decided to unload several duplicate volumes he had amassed over the years, and I jumped at this one and the next post we shall see. I would have loved to have received more from him, but alas, financially that wasn’t feasible. But I am very happy to have these two books in my collection; thank you!
July 4, 2016 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1951)
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1951)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: Drawings from William Sharp
Introduced by Carl Van Doren; Printed for the first time from his manuscripts as originally written, including his preliminary outline
Heritage Press exclusive; the LEC issued their own edition designed and signed by printer John Henry Nash in 1931, #26, 3rd Series, V. 1 in 1931
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I’ve decided to bump up a Heritage Press title for the holiday, and I happen to have one quite apropos for today: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, one of the all-time legends in non-fiction and arguably the most famous memoir ever written (at least by an American!). Franklin, of course, was one of the Founding Fathers of America, but he wore many other hats during his long life: inventor, banker, post officer, businessman, printer, newspaperman, diplomat, writer, and scientist. The book was a project that he didn’t fully finish before his death (and as Carl Van Doren notes, was written in a blistering four months), but he was still able to document fifty or so years of his busy, industrious life. This is the Heritage version of the work; Macy commissioned renowned printer John Henry Nash to print a LEC back in 1931 as the first title in the 3rd series. William Wilke served as illustrator for that edition, although it was Nash who ultimately signed the colophon. Franklin would also have his Poor Farmer’s Almanacks printed by both presses in 1964, which featured the paintings of Norman Rockwell.
For this Heritage original, Macy hired William Sharp to do the honors of rendering Franklin’s world in line drawings, a task he has performed multiple times for the George Macy Company. As previously covered, Sharp brought the lives of Rousseau and Pepys to Macy’s editions of those works, so he was certainly not a stranger to chronicling the authors in illustration (Rousseau did follow this work, mind). For Sharp’s bibliography, please see the post on Pepys.
Design Notes – …I have none! Alas, I have no Sandglass and this stands as an original Heritage. There is also no colophon to work from. Once I have some production details, I will happily elaborate.
Title Page – Carl Van Doren, who I briefly mentioned above, provides an Introduction. What’s kind of neat about this edition is that Macy had the text taken directly from Franklin’s original manuscript stored at the Huntington Library in Pasadena. The outline, included here as well, came from the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.
Examples of the Illustrations by Sharp (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This was another book sent to me recently by Liz. I’m happy to have it join my collection!
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):
March 27, 2015 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1951/1941)
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1951)
LEC #212/20th Series V. 4 in 1951
Artwork: Wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett. Preface by John T. Winterich.
LEC #734 of 1500; Upgrade of the Heritage exclusive Fathers and Sons, issued in 1941 (see below)
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Today is the second and final work of Ivan Turgenev’s output for the Limited Editions Club, Fathers and Sons. In case you missed the first post on the Cardevon Press-published The Torrents of Spring, click this link. This is also the third time we’ve covered a LEC that came from a Heritage Press exclusive! The two earlier instances we’ve documented include Crime and Punishment and The Diary of Moll Flanders. The former shares a connection with this book through its illustrator; yes, that ever-so-frequent artist of many of the Macy Russian novels — and personal favorite — Fritz Eichenberg. The German-born Eichenberg seemed to have a knack for conjuring up the right mood for the works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin and now Turgenev; the only Russian masters he missed were Gogol and Chekhov. I’ve documented Eichenberg’s extensive career for Macy and the subsequent LEC handlers here.
So, with Turgenev and Eichenberg thoroughly covered, let’s get into the production details. The Heritage original came out in 1941 (the first illustrated edition of the work, even!), and the LEC decided to try their own spin on the classic using the Heritage as a base in 1951 (curious how both Crime and Punishment and Fathers and Sons took exactly ten years for Macy to come to the decision to upgrade the Heritage to a LEC; Moll Flanders, on the other hand, was 12 years, and another example, Beowulf, was about 13 years). The illustrations for this edition were taken directly from Eichenberg’s woodblocks, which he had fortunately retained during the decade following the original publication (the Heritage original used electroplating to reproduce the artwork and text for cost management purposes). The Heritage was composed and printed by A. Colish on Worthy Paper Company paper, and bound by the ever-reliable Russell-Rutter. The LEC edition, on the other hand, was handed over to the Spiral Press and Joseph Blumenthal for its execution. The letter notes that The Lyrics of Francois Villon (1931), Sister Carrie (1938), The Pilgrim’s Progress (1940), and Spoon River Anthology (1941) were previously done by the Press, but World War II made Blumenthal to shut down the printing shop in order to join the fight, and only after its conclusion and subsequent resetting of shop could he once more print books. Blumenthal designed the LEC edition with the Scotch font, which was printed on Curtis Paper Company paper (“Curtis Rag”, to be specific). Eichenberg contributed the chapter flourishes, printed in a gray ink. The illustrations were printed on Japanese “wood-block” paper, a light paper that works quite well to make Eichenberg’s scenes pop on the page. The Spiral Press also handled this business. The bindery is absent, but the Quarto confirms Russell-Rutter was in charge. Eichenberg supplied a new illustration to be brass-stamped onto the black buckram front board; the back is lacking the art, but keeps the cloth. The spine is a natural buckram, with a leather block featuring the title done in gold leaf, which Eichenberg also supplied.
Title Page – Constance Garnett’s translations are once more summoned for this particular work; it’s a rare instance when she is not the translator of a Russian text. Heritage Press/LEC board member John T. Winterich takes over Preface duties. As I’ve observed elsewhere, he often wrote the Heritage exclusive prefaces, and when he appears in a LEC volume it seems to be an indicator of its status as an original from that press.
Colophon – Eichenberg signs this edition, and this is #734 of 1500 copies.
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I took a bit of a gamble on this work, as I ordered it online from ABEBooks. It looked fantastic from the store-supplied photos, and the price of $25 (with shipping) for a complete edition was too good to pass up. Luckily, the book is as advertised, and I’m giddy at having my third Eichenberg LEC.
LEC Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Now let’s take a look at the Heritage original…
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1941)
Sandglass Number 4E
Artwork: Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett. Preface by John T. Winterich.
Originally a Heritage Press exclusive; upgraded in 1951 to a LEC.
Front Binding – Django6924 contributes the following info and photographs of his Heritage copy:
…the 1941 edition of Turgenev’s Fathers & Sons, which came about, according to Sandglass 4E, because of the astounding popularity of the earlier HP original Crime & Punishment, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. The HP subscribers apparently clamored for another Russian novel illustrated by Eichenberg, and though it seems odd the one they chose was Fathers & Sons, it was, to quote the Bard, “a hit! A palpable hit!” — so much so that, as it did with the Dostoevsky novel, the LEC issued its own Fathers & Sons 10 years later with these same illustrations. The LEC version is very nice, with a beautiful paper and a more sober binding design, but I must say I prefer the HP’s binding, and since I have both, I can vouch that the reproductions of Eichenberg’s wood engravings are just as good here as in the LEC — identical to my eyes. The typography is also superb…The novel itself is of major importance in Russian literature, and Turgenev’s best-known. (Please excuse the quality of the photography — everything was shot under available light as my studio lights are all in storage.)
The Sandglass (4E) does not mention the designer other than saying it was intended to be a “companion volume” to the HP Crime and Punishment, so I would assume the designer of that edition, Carl Purington Rollins, deserves the credit, though I suspect if anyone did the actual design it was George Macy.
The production details are below:
Title – Winterich is not credited on the title page as he is in the LEC, but he does have a preface here. These pages were totally redesigned for the LEC run; of note is the drastically different title font and color.
Examples of the Heritage Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Big thanks to Django6924 for the use of his book, Sandglass, info and photography for the Heritage half of this post.
Updated on 10/8/2017 by JF
March 28, 2012 § 1 Comment
Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray (1951)
Sandglass Number VII:16
Artwork: Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker
Introduced by Hugh Walpole
Reprint of LEC #106/9th Series V. 12 in 1938
Click images to see a larger view.
Front Binding – After a bit of a hiatus, your curator is back with some more posts. Today’s is a real gem, a reprint of the 1938 LEC Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Sir Thomas Gray. This would be the sole work represented of the poet by the George Macy Company or its successors, but it did launch the relationship between Macy and the incomparable Agnes Miller Parker, who does some of her finest work in this book. I am a huge fan of Parker’s. I bought the LEC Far from the Madding Crowdmainly because it included a print of hers. For the design particulars, the Sandglass is surprisingly silent about that. I don’t know who designed it, nor who bound it, nor who printed it. So, I’ll just pass along what I can. The binding here is taken from one of Miss Parker’s wood engravings, embossed and stamped in silver over blue buckram imported from England. The font is Goudy Hand-tooled…and that’s about all I can say. A little peculiar, this one!
Gray composed the poem for a treasured aunt of his, revising a prior work that he was unsatisfied with and finishing the memorial in 1749. He spent much of that revision at his aunt’s grave at Stoke Poges, and Miss Parker spent her time sketching her wood engravings at that very same graveyard. So this is a book that was completely inspired by Stoke Poges, you could say! Having read this work, it’s a lovely poem accompanied by lovely art, bound lovingly.
If you’d like to know more about Miss Parker’s career with the Macy’s, I’ve touched upon that with the post on Far from the Madding Crowd.
Title Page – Hugh Walpole provides an introduction; his great-great-great-great uncle Horace Walpole (The Castle of Otranto) was a friend of Gray’s back in the 18th century. It has a distinctive look with the blue crisscrossed lines, which it maintains throughout the text.
Stanza 1 – Parker has done some lovely work in here, and I’ll just let it speak for itself. Amazing artist, that she was.
Personal Notes – I got this for $10 – 12 or so in Monterey at my favorite shop. I haven’t seen the LEC, although I wouldn’t mind owning it, I must admit! Definitely among my favorites in terms of design and artwork.