April 10, 2015 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1952)
Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1952)
LEC #230/21st Series V. 10 in 1953
Artwork: Lithographs in color by Lynd Ward
Introduced by Henry Van Dyke
LEC #42 of 1500. LEC exclusive. A Heritage exclusive version of this work, featuring Robert Ball’s illustrations, was issued in 1939.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Our latest LEC is the lovely 1952 offering Idylls of the King, by the lauded poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. However, this was not the first time Macy published this loving epic to the heroics of King Arthur and the Round Table; in 1939, the Heritage Press issued their own edition starring the artistic talents of Robert Ball. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take a slight tangent, as Ball is a bit of curiosity in the Macy canon. He was called upon to do more Heritage exclusives (Idylls, The Compleat Angler and Bleak House) than he was for LECs (Waverly), which is unusual. But let’s return to the book in question (I can go into Ball’s career more when I get a book featuring him). The LEC Idylls was the first Tennyson outing for the Club; Cardevon Press would issue his Poems in 1974 with Reynolds Stone providing the art. And that is that for Tennyson; three books isn’t shabby, but perhaps a little skimpy for one of Britain’s more famous poetic figures.
Someone who was not a stranger to the LEC (and is not at all skimpy in their output!) is the talented Lynd Ward, whose work has been frequently covered here on the blog already. It has been some time, though; Les Miserables was the last post starring Mr. Ward, and that was in 2012! That post just so happens to cover his bibliography with the two presses as well. Ward is easily one of my favorite illustrators, and this book furthers my commitment that he was among the finest artists of the 20th century, if not in human history (alongside Fritz Eichenberg). For this book, as with The Innocent Voyage, Ward utilized color lithographs, and the process is once again astounding in its execution. Six months of work generated forty eight lithographs, with each color representing its own unique plate per illustration. Since most of these lithographs are at least five colors, that is a herculean two hundred and forty individual plates Ward created, and then he magically put together correctly to form the beautiful illustrations in this book. If one plate was out of order, then the entire illustration was botched! It’s almost unbelievable to fathom the dedication and care Ward utilized for these complex art pieces.
With the author and illustrator covered, let’s focus in on this lovely book’s production details. Carl Purlington Rollins came out of retirement to design this volume for the LEC, and the letter has a fairly rich biography of his career on Page 4. His touch can be seen earlier here for the Heritage Walden and the Heritage Crime and Punishment. Yale University’s printing office handled the printing of the text on a special Curtis paper specifically made for the LEC called Colophon Text. The font is indirectly stated to be of the Baskerville family, with the text initials coming from the Goudy family. Russell Rutter was the bindery. Ward’s lively lithographs were printed by the Duenewald Printing Corporation. Red buckram is the primary cloth for the boards, with a sheepskin leather for the spine. The vermilion spine features excellent renderings of Arthur and Guinevere on each side done by Ward and stamped in with gold leaf, which also is featured in the classy spine text.
Macy notes that this is the “magni opi” of Tennyson and Lynd Ward; I’ll let you be the judge. I’m not too sure Macy’s far off in his assessment!
Title Page – Henry Van Dyke was called upon to introduce the book. The Heritage version, meanwhile, lacks any formal introduction (thanks to Django6924 for checking his copy for me). Anyway, isn’t this a lovely title page? This may be one of my all-time favorites of the Macy canon.
Colophon – Ward signed the work, and you can see that this is #42. I think this is the “youngest” book I have in terms of rank.
Examples of the Illustrations by Ward (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes –
This too was a bit of a calculated risk, like Fathers and Sons. I ordered it off of ABEBooks for the low price of $20 (plus shipping), and all and all I’m very happy with it. There is a former owner’s inscription in it, but beyond that it was on par with all of my other LECs, and I’m thankful I took the chance on it! It’s nice to have a second signed Ward in my collection, and it’s a doozy, too!
LEC Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
October 14, 2012 § 3 Comments
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1952)*
Sandglass Number VII:36
Artwork: Lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Translated by Constance Garnett, translation revision by Bernard Guilbert Guerney, and the three omitted chapters translated, edited and revised by Gustavus Spett. Introduction by Lionel Trilling.
Reprint of LEC #213, 20th Series, V. 5 in 1951. Originally 2 volumes.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – A remarkable post is what I present to you today, as we welcome a Russian master and a beloved illustrator into the echelon of our blog. Leo Tolstoy (as the book prints his name here…I’ve seen it many ways!) has written two of the biggest literary classics of all time, including War and Peace and our selected book for this post, Anna Karenina. War and Peace has two different Macy imprints interpreting it in their own unique ways. The LEC War was issued in 1938 in a six-volume set, with Barnett Freedman (the same artist responsible for this edition) rendering its world with his talents. The Heritage War is a fascinating experiment. It combines the drawings of Fritz Eichenberg (who is no stranger to Russian literature illustration as our blog will show) with the paintings of Vassily Verestchagin, with each doing one volume of the two volume set. Verestchagin passed away in 1904, so it’s one of those cases where Macy wanted to celebrate the art of the past with the Heritage Press, a trend he also performed for The Iliad and The Pilgrim’s Progress, for example. We’ll continue on that trail when we get to War and Peace in the near future. As for Anna, it was printed twice by the LEC. In 1933, wood engraver Nikolas Piskariov put his spin on the book, and it also utilized Garnett’s translation (I do not know if it had all of the editors and revisions this one does). Freedman’s take, reprinted here, was done in 1951 as a two volume set. Here’s Tolstoy’s entire LEC output:
Anna Karenina (1931) with wood engravings by Nikolas Piskariov
War and Peace (1938) with lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Anna Karenina (1951) with lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Resurrection (1963) with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (1972) with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
I have Resurrection and the exclusive War and Peace Heritage editions, so you can expect those down the road.
Let’s talk about Barnett Freedman for a bit. He is well liked in the Devotees, although I will admit that his style is not usually my cup of tea. I do like his work for this, though. He did the two aforementioned works of Tolstoy for the LEC, along with George Barrow’s Lavengro in 1936 and Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I in 1939. He also was responsible for the two Heritage Bronte publications, Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Lastly, he had a hand in the Heritage Dickens line, rendering Oliver Twist. A short but sweet ride. The Bronte works are similar in style to this, and they’re not really my thing (I have the Random House Eichenberg editions which are LOVELY). I suppose I have been spoiled. :p Anyway, those curious about the career of Freedman and how Macy discovered him will definitely want to examine the included Sandglass below closely. It lavishes so much of its space to Freedman that Tolstoy almost seems an afterthought. :p
Production details! The LEC’s text was set by the Cambridge University Press, which the Heritage reproduces. Brooke Crutchley oversaw the LEC edition’s production, following the typographic plans of John Dreyfus. I cannot tell if Cambridge actually printed out the Heritage reprint’s pages from the Sandglass. The Curwen Press of London however did redo Freedman’s lithographic prints. Russell-Rutter and William Fortney once again did the bindery honors. The font is Ehrhardt, with the larger letter-shapes being of the Fleischmann type.
Back Boards – A delightful rarity to have art on both sides! The Bronte books share this feature as well.
Title Page – A lot of hands were involved in this book. Constance Garnett’s translation was chosen as the best choice for this work, but two further assistants were added to further refine her work. The first is Gustavus Spett. He is a Russian expert and translated three chapters Garnett did not originally. The second is Bernard Guilbert Guerney, who edited and revised Garnett’s work. Although he is not mentioned here, Lionel Trilling supplies an introduction.
Front Endpapers – This is a massively illustrated work, that it is. I figured I’d give you more bang for your buck and include the endpapers over interior illustrations. Each color was its own stone in the lithographic process, so just imagine how much foresight and planning had to go into each illustration!
Personal Notes – This came with my huge library acquisition. I’m glad to have it, as I’ve been curious about the contents of the novel for some time.
* = The Sandglass specifically mentioned Freedman’s death in 1958, so this is clearly not the original publication date for my copy. I will respectfully keep the date as is due to the book stating it as such, but I wanted to let you know that this is not a 1952 printing.
July 6, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1952)
The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1952)
Sandglass Number IV:17
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Edited and Introduced by John Carswell, proclaimed the “Definitive” text
Reprint of LEC #221, 21st Series, V. 1 in 1952.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – New York is on top, Connecticut bottom.
The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen, printed twice by the George Macy Company, is a collection of crazy tales of a fictional Baron Munchausen, who came up with some whoppers to tell his distinguished colleagues. Of course, the Baron insists that they were all true. ;) The first printing of the tales was the third book the Limited Editions Club published in 1929, with engravings by John Held Jr. and an introduction by Carl Van Doren. That edition was never reprinted as a Heritage. However, in 1952 the Baron’s whimsical stories were revisited by the LEC, and that particular rendition did get a Heritage edition, the one you now see before you. Fritz Kredel, who is no stranger to this blog, with The Warden, Andersen’s Fairy Tales, The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, Barchester Towers, The Book of Ballads and Four Plays of Marlowe featuring his talents in some fashion.
I commented in Cellini that I would do his full LEC/Heritage commission list in an earlier post, but that was lazy of me to think that I would do that. XD So, I’ll do it now. Fritz Kredel is among the high end of Macy’s contributor list, with an incredible twenty individual jobs for the Limited Editions Club over a forty one year span. That’s a book every two years, and he wasn’t slouching in illustrating for other publishers, either. Busy man! Since this is a massive undertaking, I’m just going to list them:
Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1931)
Slovenly Peter by Mark Twain (1935)
The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (1937)
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1940, Heritage original, only 530 LEC editions issued)
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (1939/1940, part of the LEC Shakespeare)
Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1942)
The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray (1942)
The Republic by Plato (1944)
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamb (Evergreen Tales, 1948)
The Complete Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1949)
King Henry V by William Shakespeare (1951)
The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe (1952)
The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1955)
Poems of Heinrich Heine (1957)
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain (1962)
Emma by Jane Austen (1964)
Four Plays of Christopher Marlowe (1966, with Albert Decaris)
The Book of Ballads (1967)
The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin (1971)
The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (1972)
A fairly diverse list of authors, huh? Kredel passed away in 1973, but he left his impression on the LEC, no question.
The New York edition of the Heritage reprint was designed by both Kredel and George Salter. Salter handled the text, Kredel the illustrations. Salter went with Bell Monotype for the font, and there’s a slew of information on it in the Sandglass below. Kredel’s work in here is drawings colored with water-color inks, created by using hand-cut rubber plates. The Arrow Press was responsible for the illustrations, while The Ferris Printing Company printed up the text. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter fame was the binder. The marbled paper covering the boards were specially made by Jean-Pierre Putois of Paris, with the boards themselves made of English buckram. I know nothing of the Connecticut printing.
Django6924 chips in some additional info:
The Kredel-illustrated Munchausen is a lovely book, and the technique of using hand-cut rubber plates to apply water-color inks is a technique that Macy often employed for the Heritage Press reprints of LEC books which were hand-colored with stencils. I mentioned in an earlier post somewhere that this technique provides beautiful color, and is only inferior to the hand-colored version in that it is a too-perfect application of color–no variations in color value or thickness of application. I prefer it to the half-tone process that many other publishers used for color reproduction–which can produce color variations, but at the cost of the dot-screen “noise.”
Macy was never quite pleased, it seems, with the first LEC Munchausen–principally because he believed the illustrator, John Held, Jr., did not take his job seriously. Actually, it was a bold choice to use Held, who was famous for his comical portraits of flappers and 20s jazz babies and his New Yorker magazine covers to illustrate this piece of Germanic frivolity, and Macy probably thought the chance to do something of more than ephemeral interest would spur Held to create something extraordinary. That he did not is probably true, but what is also true is that viewed today, the illustrations have a good deal of charm and pungency, and their unusual color scheme I find most interesting. Although some have not found the binding to their taste, it is one of my dozen or so favorites of all the LEC bindings–just love those big fish and the marbled paper sides.
Title Page – This is declared the “definitive” edition of Munchausen, a claim the earlier LEC did not make. John Carswell poured through the lore of the good Baron, and compiled everything original author Rudolph Raspe and a few copycats composed into this edition, making this the first time all of Munchausen’s tales were fully assembled in one place. He also wrote the Introduction for the work. You can learn much about Carswell in the Sandglass.
Page 4 – I imagine the LEC features full-color illustrations, but Kredel’s charm still radiates from these illustrations. A good fit.
Personal Notes – I got this at Monterey’s BookBuyers, another part of the trade-in deal I got from them. It’s in very good shape, although that lovely marbled paper is not completely attached to the boards any more. I’ve read all of Raspe’s work in here, and it’s whimsical and entertaining. However, I found the first of the imitators to be lacking, so I’veput it aside. Too many other things to read!
September 10, 2011 § 1 Comment
The History of Zadig, or Destiny, by Voltaire (1952)
LEC # 233, 22nd Series, V. 1
Artwork: Illustrations and Decorations by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated by R. Bruce Boswell, and with an introduction by Rene De Messieres
#144 out of 1500
Click images to see a larger view.
Front Binding – I want you to put yourself into my shoes here for a second. I’m in Monterey in one of the great bookshops, looking through a huge pile of Heritage Press and LEC books. Suddenly, my wife spots this lovely on the shelf, pulls it out from its slipcase and gasps. She hands it to me, and I’m immediately in love with it. I see that it’s a paltry $35. I made the obvious choice – buy it now or forever live in sadness for passing up a gem at a steal. So I did!
Zadig is by the French satirist Voltaire, who amazingly was not printed by the LEC until this volume launched in 1952. The Heritage Press did Candide, which, like this book, was also illustrated by the great Sylvain Sauvage, but the LEC never resurrected that particular work. In the Cardevon Press period it was decided that they would redo the classic with the art of May Neama.
Sauvage had an illustrious career with the George Macy Company. He would illustrate six LEC’s for the company, including the first Cyrano de Bergerac, two of Anatole France’s works, the curious The Physiology of Taste, and for a set of Evergreen Tales Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. Zadig was his final commission, which he finished right before his passing. Beyond Candide, he was also the illustrator for Laurence Stern’s A Sentimental Journey through France & Italy, Anatole France’s Penguin Island (the LEC would later redo Penguin Island with Malcolm Cameron’s art), and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Ten books in total is quite the legacy, and Zadig may very well be his crown jewel, as you shall see.
I was not fortunate enough to land a letter for this particular book, but the Signature page does provide some insights. It would seem that Henri Jonquieres was the designer of the book, judging by the phrasing. Jonquieres was very well regarded in France for his book designs – I dug up a fairly nice French biography of him here.
Title Page – EVERY SINGLE PAGE IS DECORATED LIKE THIS. And there’s hardly any repetition of these decorations. It is absolutely incredible how gorgeous this book is. It may be my favorite LEC thus far. The Limited Editions Club dedicated this to Sauvage for his incredible input to the George Macy Company, and this is a lovely tribute to a grand artist.
R. Bruce Boswell translated Voltaire’s French into English for this edition, and Rene de Messieres gives an Introduction. The printing and binding were done in Paris, France, with Priester Freres doing the text printing, and Sauvage’s illustrations were reproduced by Duval and hand colored by Girardot. The paper was specifically made for this book by Papeteries de Lana. I do not know who bound the book – if you can help me out with that, I’d be most grateful.
Signature Page – This is number 144 of 1500. Madame Sauvage is mentioned for endorsing the publication of her husband’s masterpieces, which is nice. Sauvage passed before the book was printed, so his signature is notably absent. However, his fingerprints are all over in the glorious artwork, which I think I’ll let speak for themselves here on out.
Personal Notes – As I mentioned above, I got this in Monterey, CA for $35 at an antiquarian shop and I couldn’t be happier. It’s nice to own a work of Sauvage’s, and I think I got the best one. :)
If you have a LEC Newsletter, 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 amazing book. Thanks!
December 15, 2010 Comments Off on Heritage Press: William Tell by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1952)
William Tell by Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1952)
Artwork: Illustrations by Rafaello Busoni
Introduction by Thomas Carlyle, translated from the German by Theodore Martin
Heritage Press Exclusive: The LEC did their own version with Charles Hug’s illustrations in 1951.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding –
This is a curious book, one with two separate issuings with their own unique artwork. The Limited Editions Club created their rendition of this book in 1951, but it features artwork by Charles Hug instead of the Heritage edition’s Rafaello Busoni. According to Django6924, who has a copy of the LEC, the binding is made out of a grayish-green wood that has very straight grain. Unfortunately, he feels that this is fragile-looking, so he is hesitant to read it. Perhaps it is from a tree found in Switzerland? It features the same crossbow, but it’s laid into the wood in gold. Hug’s lithographs are similar in style to Busoni’s, but for some reason the Heritage Press went with Busoni over reprinting Hug’s. Very curious. The Sandglass does not explain why the artists were changed, other than saying that the Heritage edition went with Busoni to do its illustrations. It’s looking quite probable that we may never know.
Mr. Busoni began his career with the George Macy Company with Stendhal’s The Red and the Black in 1947, and would do two more LEC projects along this Heritage exclusive before his death in 1962: Nathaniel Hawthrone’s take on Pandora’s Box for a set of Evergreen Tales, and his final commission, The Charterhouse of Parma, also by Stendhal. Apparently, if the German Wikipedia page is to be believed, Busoni was the winner of one of George Macy’s competitions, presumably for The Red and the Black, the first work he did for them.
Von Schiller only had this one sole play done by the LEC or Heritage Press. His story is rather interesting, but I’ll let the Sandglass explain.
Design Notes – The book was designed by Max Fretz of Fretz Freres of Zurich, Switzerland, with a quite appropriate crossbow etched into the front. The back is bare. The publisher was Walter Diethelm, utilizing his own Diethelm-Antiqua font for the text, which gives it some flourish. The printers even designed this to resemble classic Swiss books, a novelty for American Heritage Club members.
Title Page – Although a Swiss classic, the play originated from a German, and Von Schiller never visited Switzerland. He thoroughly poured over the histories of the country written by Tschudi and Schleuchzer, and managed to create what the Sandglass refers to as “their great drama of patriotism” without ever stepping into its borders. Pretty interesting. Thomas Carlyle offered his opinion of the play in an introduction, and Theodore Martin rendered it into English from the native German.
Examples of the Illustrations by Busoni (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I purchased this from the Oakhurst library book sale for $4.00. It did not come with the slipcase, but I found a decent replacement through one of the Connecticut books, so it’s sort of complete. I think this cover is one of the best of the Heritage Press line-up. It’s just so fitting. However, I didn’t foresee myself reading this, so I sold it some time ago.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
Updated 8/9/2014 – JF