Heritage Press – Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (1954)

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:

From Bill Majure – http://www.majure.net/

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 24

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


Limited Editions Club: The Diary of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (1954)

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.

Heritage Press – R.v.R. by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1954)

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.

Sample Page

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

Heritage Press: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)

December 23, 2010 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)
Sandglass Number IX:18
Artwork: Pen and Brush Drawings that have been Watercolored 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. Both the Heritage and LEC versions of this book were designed by George Macy himself.

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. This is the second. In 1936 the LEC issued the first, with Sylvain Sauvage rendering Cyrano and his band in his trademark style. The binding is in line with others done by Sauvage at this time. If you would like to know Sauvage better, check out my Zadig post.

As for Pierre Brissaud, the artist recruited for the second edition, he had a decent run for Mr. Macy. He illustrated three Limited Editions Club titles, which are Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Saint-Simon’s Memoirs along with Cyrano. He also rendered the Heritage Press’ The Story of Manon LescautManon Lescaut was issued in 1936, but Brissaud had disappeared during the chaos of World War II (as I further explain below), and would not return to the Macy fold until 1950 with Madame Bovary. Cyrano was released in 1954, and Saint-Simon would be his final Macy commission in 1959. He passed away in 1964.

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! According to the Sandglass, Brissaud was originally commissioned to tackle this project back in 1936, and had done an initial set of illustrations. Alas, those would become unavailable for the Club thanks to World War II making worldwide mail impossible. Brissaud vanished in the turbulence, and the Club hired Sauvage and issued the book with his artwork. When the Club reconnected with Brissaud in 1952, they offered him the chance to print his Cyrano, with the lost art they were unable to use. Brissaud’s response was “that 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, before 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. I’m sure the LEC looks even more exquisite (I’ve seen it once, but was unable to look inside at the time).

Edmond Rostand, another of the legendary French playwrights (alongside Moliere, of course), did create other dramas beyond Cyrano, but none seemed to resonate the same way as his epic retelling of the eccentric de Bergerac. The George Macy Company didn’t feel the need 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!).

Title Page – Louis Untermeyer was commissioned to do a new translation for the Limited Editions Club’s second take on Cyrano, which this Heritage faithfully reprints. Personally, I find it one of the best, if not the best I’ve read of this production, and I adore this play. Some backstory: before the war, when the Club was initially beginning this edition, Jacques LeClercq was going to be the book’s translator. However, the Club felt that LeClercq was not able to quite recapture Cyrano‘s poetry in English, or as the Sandglass puts it, “he had not made real poems out of the ‘set pieces'”. With Brissaud unable to get his illustrations out of Europe during the war, the project settled on Brian Hooker’s spin on the piece along with Sauvage’s art. The first truly was a desperate book in that both the artist and translator were unable to complete their task to Macy’s wishes (for drastically different reasons, mind). In the interim, the Club pondered who could translate Cyrano‘s poetry, and, when Brissaud was found, settled on American poet (and LEC/Heritage Press favorite) Untermeyer. It was his first attempt at translating this work, and he also delivers the Introduction for this edition. He performed the task quite handily, if I may say so.

Page 16 – Christian and Ligniere chat about Roxane, before the performance of Montfleury. De Guiche can be seen talking to Roxane in the balcony. Beautiful  The text is Times Roman (the dialogue) and News Gothic (character names), which were composed by Empire Typographers in New York. The Heritage reprint was printed by the Ferris Printing Company on specifically made paper for this edition.

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 consider this one of my absolute favorite books in my collection.  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. I’d love to own a LEC of this someday. Wish me luck!

My first copy, which is where these images came from, saw an unfortunate accident strike it. While watering our plants, some water flooded out and hit this and several other of my incomplete books, but luckily I was able to replace it not too far after selling it in. I think this one looks better, and it came with a slipcase, too, so now it’s complete!

Here’s Django6924’s comments about this fine book, as well as some comments on the prior LEC Cyrano:

The designer of the Heritage edition–and of the LEC version with Brissaud’s illustrations–was none other than George Macy himself. Again, aside from the binding, the printing for the LEC being done at the Marchbanks Press, and the plates being hand-colored by Walter Fischer, I can see virtually no difference in the pages when I compare my Heritage copy to my LEC copy. Both are wonderful.

The older LEC wasn’t as nicely bound, to my taste, anyway, but the reproductions of Sylvain Sauvage’s illustrations I’ve seen make me wish I owned a copy of it as well! I don’t know a thing about the translation used for that one–by Brian Hooker–but I bet I’d prefer Untermeyer’s.


Updated 5/30/2012 – JF

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