Heritage Press – The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1955)

The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1955)
Sandglass Number I:20
Artwork: Illustrations by William Sharp
Translated by Anonymous, Revised, Edited and Introduced by A.S.B. Glover
Reprint of LEC #253, 23rd Series, V. 9 in 1955

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – Our second William Sharp request follows the first (and is the last of this summer’s requests; thanks to everyone at the Devotees for their interest!), and this particular commission follows the standards of Samuel Pepys’ Diary. There are lots of smaller, intricate line drawings printed in brown ink throughout the text. I must admit, Sharp is quite good at this, but I prefer the work he performed for the Poe collection to these. The Sandglass noted that Sharp was requested by Macy for the Pepys set to follow Adolph von Menzel’s approach for The Memoirs of Frederick the Great (which Macy earlier issued under the Reader’s Club banner in Bruno Frank’s novel on that king, The Days of the King), and that his successful venture at that commission made him the clear choice for the LEC Rousseau.

As for Msr. Rousseau, this is his sole outing for the George Macy Companies. Of all the things to choose from of his repertoire, this is clearly the most well-known! His candid autobiography solidified him in literature’s hall-of-fame, published in full three years after his death. Macy (I believe he was still well enough in 1955 to record his opinions via LEC letters and Sandglasses) notes that he is following the Nonesuch Press in his choice to utilize an anonymous translation from 1783 and 1790 for his issuing, recruiting A.S.G. Glover to restore exorcised passages that the original translator deemed prudish. Thus, we have here a complete English edition of Rousseau’s exploits.

Design Notes: Peter Beilenson served as designer for this edition (and the LEC original). The Riverside Press (see Robert’s comment below for a nice condensed history of the press) handled the printing of the HP volume, using Waverly as the primary font. It is based on the Walbaum font (the Curwen Press used it a lot, apparently), which was not available as a monotype in 12 points according to the Sandglass. The Intertype Corporation made a linotype, modernizing Walbaum and redubbed it Waverly. Frank Fortney bound the book, as is common. The linen for the boards is from Holland, with brown leaf stamped into the boards for the spine’s title and Sharp’s portrait of Rousseau on the front. The paper is “unusual”; a velvety, thin and crisp stock with deep tones.




Title Page – As mentioned above, A.S.B. Glover handled the editorial work here, taking the anonymous translation of the late 1700’s and giving it the finishing touches it needed. He also introduces the book.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this at Second Time Around Used Books in Merced for $15. It’s been read before (there’s some penciled markings on key passages inside), but the condition was remarkably solid otherwise, so I figured why not.

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

Limited Editions Club: The Shaving of Shagpat by George Meredith (1955)

The Shaving of Shagpat by George Meredith (1955)
LEC # 267, 24th Series, V. 5
Artwork: Pen and brush drawings by Honore Guilbeau
Introduction by Sir Francis Meredith Meynell
#787 out of 1500

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – George Meredith is perhaps better known for The Ordeal of Richard Feveral and The Egoist over this particular work, the satirical The Shaving of Shagpat, but the Limited Editions Club chose this as a counterpart to their earlier printing of The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by J.J. Morier.  Both books feature a similar binding style, done by W.A. Dwiggins, so they go together quite nicely on a shelf.  Here’s the announcement letter with all the details on its creation:

This would be the only work of Meredith’s that they would publish, but at least they did a splendid job of it!



Title Page – The artistic combination of Dwiggins’ decorations and Honore Guilbeau’s drawings is an ideal one.  I was quite taken with how well the two blended their talents, and am looking forward to seeing the earlier Hajji Baba, which Guilbeau also did illustrations for.  She also did Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which I will be putting up in a couple weeks.  Guilbeau started off her LEC career by winning the Club’s third competition to have their art printed with a new work, for Hajji Baba in 1945.  Dwiggins really enjoyed her work, saying “when this book appears, it will establish that gal as a woman who really knows how to make pictures!  I can’t remember when I have seen drawings for a book that pleased me so much.”  High praise, there, and I think she deserves it.  Guilbeau has a nice chat about how she got into art in the Newsletter below – it’s pretty interesting.

Sir Francis Meredith Meynell, godson to George Meredith and founder of the Nonesuch Press, another mammoth in the collectible book industry, provides a preface to the work.  And it’s a rather pretty title page Dwiggins created, isn’t it?  The Newsletter calls it “one of the best he has ever drawn”, and I wouldn’t argue.

So…why was this book printed, you ask.  Well, let me give a brief summary.  Professor Gilbert Highet, who taught at Columbia University, asked George Macy and the LEC staff if they had ever read Meredith’s Shaving of Shagpat, and why didn’t they produce a lovely volume celebrating it?  The reply was, well, no, we hadn’t read it, and thus why we haven’t made a book of it, but the curiosity got the better of them and Macy did read it.  He enjoyed it immensely, chuckling all the while.  Macy decided that yes, this was indeed a book we needed to print up, and reunited Dwiggins with Guilbeau, asked Meynell to reminiscence about the tale and his godfather, and it was off to the races.  Shagpat so happens to be Meredith’s first published novel, written at the tender age of twenty-five.  George Eliot, famous for her novels The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner and Middlemarch, adored the work so much she reviewed it three different times for three different publications.  The Newsletter has a little too much fun with its “George All the Way” retorts, FYI.

Signature Page – Copy #787, signed by Honore Guilbeau.

Page 1 – Dwiggins also provided nice initial letters to the beginning of each chapter, which is very nicely done.

Page 27 – Now for Guilbeau’s pen-and-brush drawings, which are simple and elegant.  They are a beautiful fit for this work set in the Arabian mythos.

Page 37 – Notice the diversity of color on these pages.  Lovely stuff, and had to run through the printer four times to get each color in.

Page 53 – Love the eyes on the woman in this one.

Personal Notes – I must admit, this book was an absolute gamble on my part.  Having not seen Guilbeau’s artwork before, I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not.  I ordered it online through my current bookselling employment for $40 (which I saved about $15 to $20 on due to store credit), and I was very relieved to see it arrive in very good condition and featuring such artistic wonders inside.  No complaints.

LEC Newsletter:

Heritage Press – The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1955)

The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1955)
Sandglass Number XVII:20
Artwork: Drawings by Fritz Kredel
Introduced by Angela Thirkell, published as a Centenary Edition
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #263/24th Series V. 8 in 1955

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Bound by Frank D. Fortney at the Russell-Rutter Company, the marbled boards (the paper of which was provided by Paris’ Putois Freres) stand out quite nicely with its gold and turquoise highlights.  The maroon spine gives it extra flourish.

Title Page – The book’s text is Bell, picked and planned out by Richard Williamson Ellis, then the Typographic Director to the Curtis Publishing Company.  Created by John Bell (no relation to the character in this book named the same, the Sandglass vehemently exclaims), who had been obscured by history until twenty years before this book came into fruition, the pages were set by Westcott and Thomson and then set off to be printed at The Riverside Press, on paper specifically made for this book (a frequent occurrence it would seem) by Crocker, Burbank Mills.  Angela Thirkell provides the introduction, while Fritz Kredel, one of the more frequent artists the two Presses utilized, gave Trollope’s cast some artistic flair.  Kredel’s art would be part of the book’s text, not separated out onto its own page, giving some extra considerations to Mr. Ellis about how to set up the page’s layouts.  However, I think you’ll find that he did a fine job.

Page 1

Page 16 – Kredel’s work also ended up between paragraphs of text, not only at the beginning of chapters.

Page 90 – My favorite illustration from this.

Personal Notes – Purchased from my former establishment of employment (which I COULD have taken for free, but at the time it was offered, I was in full-on MUST BE COMPLETE TO TAKE mode…which I still am, but not quite so anal ;p ) for $8 or so, I found Kredel’s work to be most excellent, and the marbled boards to be fascinating.  Haven’t read it yet, but it most certainly is a nice book.