April 23, 2017 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936/1954)
Before beginning this post proper, let me give a brief explanation for this post. This is the second time I will be covering all publications of a particular work by the George Macy Company that was printed in two unique LEC editions (the first was Tartuffe, although that was done in two posts). I’ll be starting with the earlier book first, and then cover the later LEC and Heritage reprint (the latter previously covered on the blog). Also, I accidentally mislabeled the date on the update, but I don’t want to relink everything more than once, so I’m leaving it as an April 2017 post. :p
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936)
LEC #80/7th Series V. 10 in 1936
Artwork: Watercolors by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated and Introduced by Brian Hooker
#510 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding – I am a nut about Cyrano de Bergerac (which I’ll get into below). So, I am beyond pleased to tell you that there are two Limited Editions Club variants of this fine play…although there is a very complex history behind the publication of both of these lovely books. But we’ll get to that momentarily.
Edmond Rostand, another of the legendary French playwrights (alongside Moliere, of course), had several other dramas beyond Cyrano spring forth from his pen, but none seemed to resonate the same way as his epic retelling of the eccentric de Bergerac. The George Macy Company didn’t feel compelled to create books for any of his other works, but being printed in two separate LEC volumes is relatively rare, so kudos to Rostand for that achievement (and having two spectacular artists doing your work justice at that!).
So this book has some significant backstory behind it, which I’ll happily share. This is retold from the Sandglass at the very bottom of this post. Before the war, when the Club was initially beginning the planning of this edition, Jacques LeClercq was going to be the book’s translator. He had performed the task and submitted it the LEC, but Macy and his partners felt that LeClercq did not recapture Cyrano‘s talents at poetry in English, or as the Sandglass puts it, “he had not made real poems out of the ‘set pieces'”. This was disappointing to Macy as LeClercq had done plenty of work for him that he felt did the original work justice, but just couldn’t print this particular translation.
While the text was being puzzled over, the other half of the book’s design was also having its own problems. The Club wanted to utilize Pierre Brissaud, who had recently made a big splash for the Heritage edition of The Story of Manon Lescaut which had just come out earlier in the year. Brissaud had completed his set of illustrations, but prior to sending them off to the LEC Europe began sinking into the chaotic web that begat World War II. Brissaud made himself scarce as Germany’s forces entered Paris, and vanished for over a decade from any contact with Macy or the LEC.
Now, this is all from the Heritage Press’ perspective, and I do not have access to the Monthly Letter of the second edition, and the letter for this book doesn’t mention any of this. The Quarto as well is mum on the matter, only delving into design notes for both. So, for now I am presuming that the Brissaud/LeClercq edition was originally scheduled as a LEC edition, not only as a Heritage exclusive. Once I know for sure I will update this post.
Either way, with Brissaud unable to get his illustrations out of Europe during the war and LeClercq’s translation deemed inappropriate, the project shifted gears. The LEC settled on Brian Hooker’s translation — popular at the time and still held with regard in dramatic circles — along with recruiting another French watercolorist, Sylvain Sauvage, to handle the art. The first truly was a desperate book…which makes it all the more remarkable it turned out as nice as it did.
Sauvage hasn’t been discussed as much as I would like on this blog, but we do have some history on him over at our Zadig post. As a pitch hitter, he scored a home run in my opinion, as his work is absolutely gorgeous here. There are twelve full page watercolor illustrations reprinted here in color collotype.
Design Notes – My edition came with the announcement card, so I’ll let that speak for the volume:
The binding, while novel for the blog, was modeled after the design utilized by the Club for Sauvage’s handling of the Anatole France novel At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque, and would see one more reuse for another France edition, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. Images for both courtesy of Oak Knoll Books. It has two sides, so the back is also included below. Our featured book was designed and printed by Edmund B. Thompson at Hawthorn House. Curiously, the France novels were done by different designers: William A. Kittredge of the Lakeside Press for the Queen, and Edward Alonzo Miller for Crime.
Now if you read that note closely, you’ll notice it states the rust-colored linen is stamped in a blue and gold pattern; however, the “blue” appears brown to my eyes on my copy and others I’ve seen online. So perhaps it was originally blue but time has discolored it, or an alternative was used after this was printed. Again, this book was a bit of a pickle for Macy, so it may just be another detail that had to be changed at the last minute. And since the note lacks the detail, ever at the ready bindery Russell-Rutter performed that task.
Back Binding – This is a classic scene from the play, where Christian attempts to woo Roxane with the help of Cyrano speaking on his behalf.
Slipcase – The slipcase includes the limitation number, a relative rarity for the LEC, but it does happen on occasion.
Title Page – The book has an exquisite title page with the play’s dramatic final moments spotlighted here (perhaps an odd choice to have the end be your centerpiece for the title page, but with art this well executed it’s hard to complain). This edition never saw a Heritage reprint.
Colophon – Here Sauvage provides his signature (nice to have one!), and this is copy #510 of 1500.
Examples of the Text and Illustrations by Sauvage:
Page 3 – Each act begins with a nice curtained backdrop surrounding Rostand’s notes setting up the scene.
Page 20 – Sauvage’s gorgeous watercolors are an ideal fit for the world of Cyrano. Brissaud is a very close second, but I do have to give the artistic edge to the older edition. Here Cyrano steps up to shut down the play of his rival, Montfleury.
Page 36 – Here Cyrano has outclassed snotty marquis Valvert both in verse and by the sword.
Personal Notes – This book was created in chaos, and apparently I needed a relic of such a time for my own personal chaos, as I acquired this from an online seller as my marriage was dissolving last year. I wanted to fill three huge holes in my collection with an influx of money that had come in, and both Cyrano LECs and the Popol Vuh (which will likely be the next post) fit the bill, with reasonably priced copies in good condition available for all three books. I am thankful to finally have this book, as it was on my wishlist for a long while. And while I wish it didn’t have to come to me in a time where I was trying to ignore the reality of my life on the precipice of changing forever, I still cherish it for what it is, not for what time it entered my life.
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)
LEC # 240/22th Series V. 8 in 1954
Artwork: Ilustrations by Pierre Brissaud
Translated and Introduced by Louis Untermeyer
#990 of 1500. Heritage Edition discussed below.
Front Binding – And so we turn to the 1954 edition, one of the last books overseen by Macy himself (he served as designer for both the LEC and Heritage editions) before his death and the fulfillment of at least half of the idealized edition of the play he had set out to make in the first place. When the Club finally reconnected with Brissaud in 1952, they offered him the chance to print his Cyrano with the lost art they were unable to originally use. Brissaud’s response? “…In the intervening years he had certainly grown older and possibly wiser, that he certainly ought to make a new set of pictures – which would be better pictures.” So he did twenty five brand new illustrations, done with pen and brush watercolors, which were printed for the LEC by the Photogravure and Color Company in key black, then hand colored by Walter Fischer to match up with Brissaud’s originals. And thus the edition now before you was printed. But LeClercq, the translator intended to pair with Brissaud, was still unseen in the edition. As the Sandglass below explains, the Club apparently had the intention of printing this book again while the LEC original would never be printed as a Heritage edition, and Louis Untermeyer was subsequently recruited to do his own translation for the second edition. Personally, I find it one of the best — if not the best — I’ve read of this production, and I adore this play.
Since this post originally served as a means of sharing Brissaud’s bibliography with the Club, let’s go ahead and cover that again. He had a decent run for Macy, with three Limited Editions Club titles, which are Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1950) and Saint-Simon’s Memoirs (1954) along with Cyrano. He also rendered the Heritage Press exclusive The Story of Manon Lescaut as noted above. Manon Lescaut was issued in 1936, but Brissaud had disappeared during the chaos of World War II (as observed above), and would not return to the Macy fold until 1950 with Madame Bovary. He passed away in 1964.
Design Notes – Courtesy of the Quarto and the Colophon, here’s what I can tell you. As I mentioned earlier, Macy himself designed the book.The Marchbanks Press handled printing duties after the text was set by David Goldman’s team at Empire Typographers. Curtis Paper was used, and the binding was done again by Russell-Rutter. The font is Times Roman, with News Gothic for character names. The binding is a full patterned brocade with a tan leather label stamped in gold.
Frontispiece – Right before the title page is this fantastic curtain call illustration by Brissaud, which I think perfectly suits Cyrano. A fine way to start a book! There is a bit more color to the LEC in contrast to the Heritage, as I will provide below.
Title Page – Untermeyer was no stranger to the Macy publications at this point, with several introductions and a few other contributions under his belt by the time Cyrano came out. This may be his unsung opus, though. He also provides an intro for this volume.
Colophon – Much more relaxed in style than Sauvage’s. This is #990 of 1500 and Brissaud provides his signature.
Pages 16 – 17 – Christian and Ligniere chat about Roxane, before the performance of Montfleury. De Guiche can be seen talking to Roxane in the balcony. Brissaud does a splendid job illustrating Cyrano much like Sauvage did; I find both premiere treatments of the classic. I think I like the execution of Sauvage’s watercolors just a touch more due to being full-page prints versus the majority of in-text ones Brissaud created. Both are marvelous though.
Pages 76-77 – Here De Guiche, the major antagonist of the play, shows up to recruit Cyrano to his side after seeing his skills at poetry and swordplay.
Personal Notes – I got this at the same time as the original LEC of the play from another online seller, and it replaced my Heritage edition.
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)
Sandglass Number IX:18
Artwork: Ilustrations by Pierre Brissaud
Translated and Introduced by Louis Untermeyer
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC # 240/22th Series V. 8 in 1954
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – This feathery design was done through a specifically designed marbled cloth, modeled after the 17th century French style. The Press calls it an unusual material for them. It’s on both the front and the back. My first copy did not come with a slipcase, but the second did, and it’s a tan color.
Design Notes – Brissaud’s watercolors were done differently here; here they were reproduced as gravures with dark brown ink. From there Brissaud watercolored them all and returned them to the Club. Herbert Rau cut each color into a rubber plate, so that the book’s reproductions would match up to Brissaud’s originals (mostly, as you will see below). The text was set still by Empire Typographers in New York, while the Heritage reprint was reprinted by the Ferris Printing Company on specifically made paper for this edition.
Frontispiece (Heritage left, LEC right) – The Heriage omits the peach and tan tones entirely, and prints the other colors in a different, often lighter tone. They still are effective, but lack the pop that the full color range gives the LEC edition.
Title Page – I’m impressed the red was reused here; oftentimes Heritage editions strip out extra colors on title pages.
Page 65 – Cyrano and Roxane share a moment after the scene with the poets. I think this is definitive proof of Brissaud being an ideal match for Rostand’s classic.
Bonus Pamphlet – Along with a Sandglass, the Heritage Press included a comparison between Cyrano’s famous “nose” speech in Act I, and how it has been translated over the years (including LeClercq’s unused translation). A rather fascinating document!
Personal Notes – Acquired at a Oakhurst library sale, this was my third Heritage Press book (The Aeneid and Sherlock Holmes preceding it). It’s arguably the one that clued me into discovering that there was a particular press making all these exquisite books I was getting. I’ve become hopelessly devoted to these literary treasures. I considered this one of my absolute favorite books in my collection…until I replaced it with the LEC, but now that edition is treasured as such! As I mentioned, I love this play, and I found Untermeyer’s translation very readable and smooth. Having been a part of this dramatic production as De Guiche for my local college, I consider it to be a great way of remembering the good times being in this show. Brissaud’s excellent art is a great cherry on top, although I have to give the LEC the edge for its extra coloring.
Updated 6/23/2017 – JF
July 24, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (1954)
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (1954)
Sandglass Number XII:18
Artwork: Illustrations by Bernard Lamotte
Translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Introduced by Justin O’Brien
Reprint of LEC #244, 22nd Series, V. 12 in 1954.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – This book is a bit curious in that it in nearly all respects mimics its LEC original to a fault. The board design is identical to the LEC, as you can see here:
I’m sure the LEC fabric is more luxurious, but it’s a little weird to see a Heritage edition mirror its LEC parent so closely.
Anyway! Swann’s Way is the sole work of Marcel Proust published by either the Limited Editions Club or the Heritage Press. Proust is a rather interesting figure of French literature, but I’ll reserve that story for Wikipedia to tell. Swann’s Way was his first novel in his series of several works of fiction entitled “Remembrances of Things Past”, first published in France in 1913. In 1954 George Macy slotted the work into his 22nd series of the LEC.
The Sandglass raves and raves about the illustrator recruited to render Proust’s novel into visual art, the painter Bernard Lamotte. I have to admit that I am not at all attached to Lamotte’s style, and only have this book to discover Proust. Lamotte’s accomplished and his skills are superb, I do not question that. There’s just something …lifeless to his work that I don’t care for. However, as your faithful curator it is my job to not merely complain about an artist I don’t like, but to instead inform. So, I’ll save rambling on and on about my grievances. Lamotte began working with Macy in 1948, rendering Emile Zola’s Nana for the LEC. He would stick with French-related commissions for the rest of his career (fitting, as he was French). Here’s the rest of his career with the LEC:
France, Anatole, Crainquebille, 1949.
Proust, Marcel, Swann’s Way, 1954.
Hugo, Victor, Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), 1955.
Dumas, fils, Alexandre, Camille (La Dame Aux Camelias), 1955.
Carlyle, Thomas, The French Revolution, 1956.
Maupassant, Guy de, Bel-Ami, 1968.
All prominent French works save Carlyle, but his certainly relates to the French! Lamotte passed away in 1983, which makes his sudden lapse of involvement following Bel-Ami a little odd.
Anyway, the cloth boards were inspired by a photograph of Proust’s quarters Lamotte had taken in order to enrich himself in the world of Swann’s Way. A wall covering in the room looks just like the fabric utilized here, which Lamotte was asked to recreate by Macy after a panicked cable. Lamotte did one better, and actually took a piece of that covering to have it duplicated for both the LEC and the Heritage editions. Apparently it left a strong impression on Macy to have it cover both books! The Garamond Press handled the printing duties, taking the Bodoci Monotype font selected for the text and applying it to Crocker-Burbank paper. Russell-Rutter unsurprisingly was the bindery for the Heritage edition. It’s more of a shock when they’re not involved with a Heritage book! The illustrations were printed in Paris. The Sandglass describes the detail of how Lamotte’s work needed six separate printings of color to be properly reproduced, but I will let it tell the tale. Derberny et Peignot handled the plates, while Delaporte did the actual printing of the paintings. Don Floyd was kind enough to contribute some key information, namely the designer! Macy himself was responsible for this book’s design, making it one of the last books he had such involvement with before his death. Here’s what he has to say about the LEC:
Swann’s Way was designed by Macy and since it was published in 1954, it must have been one of the last books designed by Macy…The LEC binding is in full natural linen printed with a lavendar pattern and stamped in black.
So, there you go. Thanks, Don!
Slipcase – It’s actually black, as much as this photo insinuates it’s green.
Title Page – C.K. Scott Moncrieff was the translator for this work, and Justin O’Brien supplies an introduction.
Page 52 – I will admit that I do like this one, but that’s an unfortunate anomaly for my brain. Lamotte just doesn’t cut it for me, alas.
Personal Notes – This was received as part of a trade-in at Bookbuyers in Monterey. I got it primarily to read Proust, and it is a lovely book on the outside. Lamotte had no bearing on my purchase, as I’ve probably made clear by now. :p
January 19, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Diary of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (1954)
The Diary of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (1954)
Twenty-Second series, Book #243 (11th in the series)
Artwork: Illustrations drawn by Reginald Marsh, which were colored through stencils
Originally a Heritage Press exclusive.
#1040 out of 1500
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – This book has a vibrant blue binding that is very soft and squishy (for lack of a better word). Django6924 has this information on the book’s design (link leads to post above this particular quotation):
Checking my LEC Bibliography, I see that Mr. Beilenson printed the book, but Moll Flanders was designed by George Macy. The binding is padded silk–“like a lady’s private diary.”
Reginald Marsh, a fairly prominent American painter who took to the Burlesque scene early in his career, which serves him well as the illustrator for Moll Flanders. Django has this to say about Marsh’s career:
Reginald Marsh is one of the half-dozen famous “regional artists” of 20th century America, along with the 3 Midwestern painters Benton, Wood and Curry, and in the East, his contemporary Edward Hopper. Although he did several works for the LEC, Moll Flanders would seem to be an unlikely choice of assignments for the famed chronicler of Coney Island, the Bowery and the burlesque houses and movie theaters on the Lower East Side. But, I think he did a remarkable job, and as WildcatJF pointed out, the burlesque queens he depicted so memorably are distant cousins of the scandalous Ms. Flanders. Marsh’s more typical jobs for Macy were Sister Carrie and his final illustrated book for them, Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, completed just before his death and, as a result, one of the unsigned LECs. The Dreiser work, along with the illustrations he did for Dos Passos’s U.S.A. Trilogy, are his masterpieces of book illustration. Here is a link that tells a little more about him and shows some of his fine art:
Slipcase – The slipcase was wrapped in a beautiful copper foil that compliments the blue binding — alas, mine is falling apart. Django mentions that the same cruelty has befallen both his and a relative’s copies, so it would seem that this foil was not meant to last.
Title Page – Here the book is referred to as “The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders“. This was printed in 1954 by Peter Beilenson in Mt. Vernon. Here’s some more info on Mr. Beilenson from Django:
Printed at his Mt. Vernon press, which was the home of his own famous press, The Peter Pauper Press. Beginning in the Thirties and continuing to his death in 1962, the Peter Pauper Press printed many beautiful letterpress editions of classic works–nothing monumental in scope, but made with wonderful design sense and beautiful materials. The press also designed and printed several special editions for Random House and for the LEC.
Moll Flanders was originally done for the Heritage Press in 1942, which I believe was done with a red binding. Unlike Beowulf, which did the same thing, Marsh did sign his LEC upgrade, but I do not know if Marsh did any further work on this volume like Ward did on his. The book does state that Marsh’s work was colored in the Studio of Martha Berrien through stencils.
Signature Page – Here’s Marsh’s signature. It’s #1040 of 1500.
Page 56 – 57 – A nice piece of revelry and debauchery. I found the vomiting gentlemen in red by the page divide to be a particular highlight for some bizarre reason.
Page 151 – Most of Marsh’s work is in between the book’s text.
Personal Notes – My first trip to Moe’s in Berkeley led to this purchase, a steal at $15. I have a feeling it was so cheap because of the slipcase’s poor condition — it really is a shame that the foil is falling to pieces. I haven’t read Defoe, but I’ve heard of the story of Moll Flanders, and Marsh’s work seems to be a good fit for the tale, so I’m content. And the cushy binding adds a lot to the joy of flipping through it.
December 30, 2010 Comments Off on Heritage Press – R.v.R. by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1954)
R.v.R. – The Life of Rembrandt Van Rijn by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1954)
Sandglass Number: Issued without a Sandglass, see below
Artwork – Illustrated with one hundred and fifty paintings, drawings and etchings by Rembrandt, which were selected and arranged by J. B. Neumann
Fourth printing, originally printed in June 1939.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – I really like how the Heritage Press utilized a famous painting for the binding in this series. It certainly makes it stand out! This book was originally designed by John S. Fass. This is a later reprint of the work, done after the second World War was underway and George Macy was operating under budget restrictions due to the war effort. As GMD member featherwate explains (in reference to another book under the Reprint banner):
The Heritage Reprint (HR) series published during the 1940s. Michael Bussacco does not cover these in his reference works, presumably because they were issued (usually issued?) without Sandglasses and in a dust jacket rather than a slipcase (although this copy of the Sonnets does have a slipcase…). I’ve never seen one in the flesh, only the pictures on your blog of the HR Rembrandt biography.
As this was a wartime initiative by George Macy, I assume these volumes were necessarily of lower quality than the normal Heritage Press books and issued in larger numbers for sale through bookshops. Lower quality doesn’t mean poor quality, but lord knows where Macy managed to find good paper!
Apparently they were also available free to Heritage Press subscribers: according to a 1943 report of the Consumers Union of United States, Inc.:
“With each fourth book purchased [as part of the 12 book subscription] a member may select as a free bonus one of the cheaper Heritage Reprints.
Back Binding – Like Goya’s, it wraps around to the back.
Van Loon did not receive a second opportunity to be printed by the LEC or Heritage Press, but he did contribute introductions to two LECs: The Cloister and the Hearth and In Praise of Folly. Rembrandt would not see a second chance to illustrate a Macy book.
Title Page – As mentioned above, the most attention on this page is the “New York: The Heritage Reprints” tag on this title page. It’s the first time I’ve seen that particular branch of the Heritage Press in one of their books. Even my former copy of This is the Hour states that it is by the Heritage Press. Sandglasses and slipcases were omitted for the HR series in favor of dust jackets, and these were sold in stores, as best as I can guess. It also lists the printing history of the book, another unusual occurrence in the Macy oeuvre.
At any rate, J. B. Neumann was again responsible for choosing the artwork and arranging it.
Dust Jacket – Here’s the oddity in the Heritage family: a surprisingly nondescript dust jacket that proclaimed it’s a reprint of the Heritage Press original, with Rembrandt’s paintings inside, its design by John S. Fass, and some history behind the book itself on the back.
Dust Jacket Flap (both sides had the same text) – $3.95, eh? Not a bad price! It’s my proof that it was probably not sold directly by the Press, but in bookshops.
Personal Notes – I was given this book by a good friend of my wife and I, Lois, after she discovered this particular edition was a Heritage Press copy (the same person who traded Robert Browning books with me). It intrigued me due to its dust jacket and calling itself a Heritage Press reprint, and even going so far as to state how many books per edition had been printed (a very uncommon move for the Press). I no longer have it though, as I’m not all that interested in biographies on classical painters. I have seen a couple other Reprints since I originally wrote this post, but I can’t recall them at present. They are pretty rare, though, in the grand scheme of the Heritage Press output!
Thanks to featherwate for some elaboration on the Heritage Reprint series.
Updated 7/9/2015 by JF