June 26, 2016 § 4 Comments
The Histories of Herodotus (1958)
LEC #293/27th Series V. 2 in 1958
Artwork: Illustrated and Decorated by Edward Bawden
Introduced and translated from the Greek by Harry Carter
#660 of 1500. Heritage edition detailed below.
Before I begin this post proper, I need to take a moment and dedicate this post to longtime Devotee and frequent visitor to this site Don Floyd, who has seemingly passed away within the past six months since I or any of the other Devotee have heard from him. Another reason we believe he has passed on is that his collection — a nearly complete set of LECs, several of which he personally had rebound — has ended up on eBay. It’s truly tragic to see Don’s pride and joy not go to its intended home following his passing; he had plans to donate his collection to his alma mater.
That all being said, I will miss Don’s candor. He definitely had a strong opinion against Heritage Press books, and he was particularly ornery about certain topics, but he was a wonderful man to talk to and learn from. He provided information for me to utilize here on the blog more than once, and I can think of few individuals who were as devoted or passionate about George Macy and his publications as he was. Don Floyd will also be missed here as he was arguably my most frequent commenter. So rest in peace, Don; you will not be forgotten.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – After five long years, I can finally revisit and update you on the differences between the LEC and Heritage editions of The Histories of Herodotus, a title I have sought since I originally stumbled upon the Heritage books that originally comprised this post! And the circumstances of my coming upon this book is quite a story as well; perhaps not as notable or important as the histories contained within, but I hope intriguing! I’ll discuss that in the Personal Notes below.
Onto the book proper. The Limited Editions Club printed these very early classics in the history genre in 1958. Given George’s death in 1956, it’s probable he had some hand in the formation of this book more than his wife Helen, who carried the Club through the next decade. Herodotus is considered “the father of history” (a term given to him by Cicero), pioneering a new approach to writing historical works through the use of historiography, utilizing ethnographic and geographical information to serve as his support. Not everything he writes about in this book is infallible; Herodotus stated that he took what he got from his sources as credible, and there are a few spots where the text is shaky. However, taken as a whole Herodotus’ volumes are fairly accurate to the actual events known of the Greco-Persain Wars. This is the sole work of his that made it to modern times, and is thus the sole production from the LEC or the Heritage Press.
Edward Bawden makes a bold imprint on the LEC legacy with this book. His artistic flourishes for the title page and chapter openers are colorful, crisp dioramas twisting different motifs and symbols into delightful setpieces. He also supplied several line drawings that are sprinkled in the text. My frequent source Django6924 had this to say about Bawden when this was originally posted:
Bawden, born in 1903, and who was a famous English War Artist in WW II and did a tour in Abyssinia, did 102 pen and ink drawings to illustrate the text, and ten double-page color spreads to introduce each of the 9 books (plus one for the title page). …these are very exotic, combining elements of Attic and Persian art in a tapestry-like effect.
Bawden would also contribute to 1960’s Salammbo LEC, written by Gustave Flaubert.
Design Notes – Herodotus’ ancient Greek was translated by Harry Carter, who also served as one of the designers of the book. He also, according to Django6924:
In addition to his translating and editing tasks, Harry Carter compiled helpful marginal glosses which are on nearly every page of text, as compiling an Index which is a marvel of utility and fun: consider such Index items as “Arrows, messages shot with,” and “Beans, abhorred by the Egyptians.”
LEC legend Jan van Krimpen (who was the original lead designer until his death) and Bawden also had a hand in the design. Django6924 supplied these additional details:
The book’s designer was Jan van Krimpen of Joh. Enschedé en Zonen fame, whose printing company in the Netherlands did many great LEC and Heritage books, as well as many other fine books and postage stamps. He needed help from both the illustrator Edward Bawden and also the translator, Harry Carter, as he died in October, 1958 while working on the project. The text used is his Monotype Spectrum, the last face Krimpen ever designed.
van Krimpen may have died in this midst of his involvement with this book, but his legacy in the annals of the LEC and Heritage Press will not be forgotten, as this book will serve as a testimony of.
The paper was Wolvercoat paper from Oxford, England, printed up by van Krimpen’s printing house Joh. Enschedé en Zonen of Haarlem, Holland. J. Brandt and Zoon of Amsterdam served as the binding house for the LEC. As I don’t have a monthly letter at hand, this is as far as I can go into production details at present.
Title Page – Bawden’s decorations are exquisite! Worth the price of admission for sure. Carter also provides an introduction to the text.
Colophon – 1500 copies were produced. This is #660, and Bawden provides his signature.
Book I Opener – I’m making an exception to my usual “gallery” template for this post to showcase these amazing works of Bawden’s.
Book II Opener
Page 5 – An example of the linework and text. You can see one of Carter’s annotations in the bottom right.
Personal Notes – So, five years after posting this, I finally got my hands on the LEC edition of this marvelous book. As I mentioned above, it’s an interesting story. I arrived to work Monday morning to find a message on my phone. It was from someone I had never met before (we’ll call her Liz) inquiring if I was the person who ran this very blog, and that she was seeking a good home for some LEC titles she couldn’t take with her when she moved. That was a bit of a shock! I reached out at my break and by the end of the call, I was going to receive 10 books from her to document and keep in my collection. A week or so later (after some frightening “tourism” the USPS decided to give my package, having it wander off to Cincinnati for an extended detour), the books arrived safe and sound. So I’m tickled to finally have this book (and the others!), and a big thank you to Liz for her generosity in sending them to me.
The Histories of Herodotus (1958, 2 volumes)
Sandglass Number II & III: 24
Artwork: Illustrated and Decorated by Edward Bawden
Introduced and translated from the Greek by Harry Carter
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #293/27th Series V. 2 in 1958
Click images for a larger view.
Front Bindings – As you can see, the Heritage edition splits the sole LEC into two nice looking volumes with a fairly striking design on the boards. This is duplicated on the back as well. Here’s Django6924’s thoughts between the LEC and HP editions, as well as some insights into the creation of this set:
I have both the LEC edition and the Heritage Press edition, and this is one case where the Heritage is the clear winner. Why?
First of all, the LEC is a single chunky volume while the Heritage books are much more reader-friendly. The printing is identical–if you compare two pages side-by-side, they are indistinguishable, same size and same pagination. Secondly, as WildcatJF points out, the binding design is striking to say the least! I love the vertical title arrangement on the spines–a technique that is seldom used but which I prefer to the more usually found arrangement where you have to cock your head to the left or right to read the title. The LEC binding is subdued, a burgundy buckram (that has faded on my otherwise pristine copy two shades paler), with a small white title label and a white medallion on the front cover. Very high quality and elegant (I particularly like the beveled edges), but I really prefer the wilder Heritage design.
The Heritage Sandglass number (2 actually) are II & III: 24–the books were sent out in separate months, but only one Sandglass.
They were printed separately and tipped in to the text, which was printed by Kellogg & Bulkeley of Hartford, CT, on paper specially made for this edition the the Crocker, Burbank Paper Company of Fitchburg, MA.
The binding was done, as it usually was in this period, by Frank Fortney and his Russell-Rutter Company.
I like the simple class act of the LEC design a lot, but there’s a unity and flair to the Heritage volumes I think I prefer slightly more. The interiors are pretty similar in terms of quality, too. I’m sure higher production value was put into the papers, inks and materials, but the Heritage reprint does a pretty remarkable job holding up to the LEC. I’m not going to part with my LEC, but I can understand why someone would take the plunge on the Heritage over it!
Spines – I particularly like the spine design here, as Django6924 notes.
Title Page – Pretty similar to the LEC, with only the printing press swapped out. Sorry about the library card blocking the view, but it’s now at least visible in the LEC image above.
Book I Decoration – As you can see, the Heritage does an admirable (if not extraordinary) job replicating the images of the LEC. This was not a rush job, for sure.
Book II Decoration
Personal Notes – Checked out from my Mariposa Library, and one I believe I saw in stores only once (and I had LEC options for other books, so I went that direction instead). Now that I hold the LEC in my collection, I won’t be on the hunt for this set any longer.
Updated 6/26/2016 by JF
June 25, 2015 Comments Off on Hertiage Press – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)
Sandglass Number 7 GRS
Artwork: Drawings by Fritz Eichenberg and Paintings by Vassily Verestchagin
Introduced, Translated and with Notes by Louise and Alymer Maude
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own edition of War and Peace in 1938. This edition borrows the revised translation done by the Maudes.
Click images for larger views.
Front Bindings – Hello again, everyone! It’s nice to be back. And this is my first post in my new home. Funny how this doesn’t feel any different, and yet…this is the first time I’ve not lived in my home town. So many other parts of my life are so radically different from before, but it’s comforting to know that writing here is a little nostalgic in its own strange way…Anyway, you’re not here necessarily to read about my life changes. Let’s get to brass tacks and discuss a monstrous two volume set that stars two illustrators: the Heritage War and Peace.
War and Peace is arguably the great Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus; the George Macy Company agreed with this sentiment, publishing two versions of the classic, one for each publishing house (which was also done with Anna Karenina, but gave that particular book two LEC editions instead). The LEC received a six volume set in 1938, decorated by the esteemed Barnett Freedman (who also did the art for Anna Karenina). The Heritage Press, meanwhile, received this two volume set later in 1943, starring another prominent illustrator of Russian texts, Fritz Eichenberg. Eichenberg wasn’t alone on this edition, however; Macy licensed the paintings of Russian painter Vassily Verestchagin, who was at the time unpublished in the United States, to decorate the battle-filled second half of the book. Eichenberg is primarily reserved for the first volume. Before you get super excited, though, Eichenberg left his woodcutting tools out of the equation for this commission, and instead went with a simpler inked line approach for his artistry. It’s certainly adequate, but may not be as well-received as his exquisite woodcuts and lithographs that grace other Macy volumes. Tolstoy and Eichenberg would meet twice more (with his patented woodblocks) in the future for the LEC, with Resurrection and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth seeing his flourish in 1963 and 1974, respectively.
Design details are most abridged in this set; one page of the Sandglass is spent on the cast of the book, forcing Macy to gloss over most of the publication details. Perhaps World War II (which was in full swing at this point) caused the book to be printed in-house entirely? The boards are covered in a “silky maroon linen”, with gold leaf (mine appears silver) for Eichenberg’s design and for the spine’s text. Eichenberg contributed forty drawings, and Verestchagin’s paintings were taken from the Napoleonic campaigns collection at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. And…that’s all I can give you. However, Django6924 had plenty to say about the book’s release date, as well as an interesting story about Freedman (I had originally mentioned that Freedman died in 1958, and had supposed that this release followed his death):
Jerry, your Sandglass is the same as mine and dates from the initial HP release in 1943. When War and Peace was re-issued in 1951, it was in a single volume and the Sandglass didn’t have any details on the production either.
In your article you mention that since Freedman died in 1958, that this edition dates from then. It is one of those little details that make the collecting of HP editions a fascinating game of detective work! In fact, this statement proves how strange things were for Macy during the war, and how much confusion existed in those days before satellite communications. In fact, Macy, and many others, I’m sure, believed that Freedman had died serving as a War Artist–having been sent to France in April 1940 to record the work of the BEF–either during the near-disaster of Dunkirk, or being lost when the Bismarck sank HMS Hood, with with virtually the entire ship’s company.
Freedman was nearly lost at Dunkirk when he left the complement of War Artists to retrieve the one painting he had completed before the Germans forced the evacuation. As told in the wonderful book The Sketchbook War: Saving the Nation’s Artists in World War II (which features the exploits of several LEC illustrators), Freedman had “a last defiant meal on French soil before leaving the burning city–three bottles of champagne and a tin of bully beef” before getting on an ammunition boat which brought him to England. After this, he was posted, not on HMS Hood as Macy thought, but on HMS Repulse, which was one of the ships that sank the Bismarck. This is undoubtedly the origin on the comment “late, great painter” in the 1943 War and Peace Sandglass and the comment in the 1951 War and Peace Sandglass that Freedman was a survivor of the sinking of the Hood (in fact there were only two survivors) and a survivor of Dunkirk.
Isn’t that fascinating? Once again, World War II wrecks havoc on Macy’s plans, much like it did with Oedipus the King, This is the Hour, and Le Fleurs de Mal, among others. At least this one had a happy ending, and Freedman lived through his trials as a war painter (to ultimately come back and do Anna Karenina!). Funny how this post has been a bit of a circle, and how War and Peace seems to be an actual theme to the events of Macy’s artists, too!
Title Page – The text is taken from the LEC edition of War and Peace, which featured a modified translation by noted Tolstoy scholars Louise and Aylmer Maude. The latter also provides an introduction and many notes to the text. Macy made plenty of his own notes of how this is an exclusive to his printing houses, so he must have had some pride in acquiring it.
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg and Verestchagin (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This is a set I’ve wanted for some time, and it came in the bunch of Heritage titles I acquired from the Oakhurst Library. Still need to read it, though.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
November 7, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Chronicle of the Cid, translated by Robert Southey (1958)
The Chronicle of the Cid, translated by Robert Southey (1958)
Sandglass Number VI:23
Artwork: Illustrations by René Ben Sussan
Introduced by V.S. Pritchett
Reprint of LEC #289, 26th Series, V. 10, in 1958.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – First of all, it’s nice to return to writing about these books. The last few months have been remarkably hectic, stressful and harried. While there are some things I still need to do for my future, I desperately needed an outlet to write. Sharing the beautiful titles George Macy and his family produced is a fine way to accomplish that.
Anyway, let’s focus in on The Chronicle of the Cid, our selection for today. The Cid (pronounced “Sid” in English; “Theed” in Spanish) is essentially the Spanish equivalent of King Arthur in terms of hero and myth. The Spanish legend was rendered into the English language by Robert Southey, a productive (if not exactly prodigious in terms of the modern English pantheon) poet and essayist, which he finished in 1808, some 700 years after the death of The Cid (aka Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar). This was the sole work Southey had produced by the George Macy Company and its subsequent presses.
We get to introduce René Ben Sussan to the blog readership today, a man who certainly devoted a fair amount of his artistic time to George Macy’s books. Here is a biography of the commissions Ben Sussan took on for the presses:
The School of Scandal, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1934 (LEC)
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1938 (Heritage only, part of the Heritage Dickens series)
Old Goriot, Honore de Balzac, 1948 (LEC, was part of the Heritage/Nonesuch French Romances series, and that edition came out in 1949)
Volpone, or the Fox, Ben Jonson, 1952 (LEC)
The Rivals, Richard Brinslet Sheridan, 1953 (LEC)
The Chronicle of the Cid, Robert Southey, 1958 (LEC/Heritage)
Eugenie Grandet, Honore de Balzac, 1960 (LEC/Heritage)
The Memoirs of Casanova, 1972 (LEC)
Of note is the two-for-one issue of The Rivals and The School for Scandal for the Heritage Press. One seller lists a Sandglass of VI:18, which GMD member featherwate passed along some info on:
Sandglass VI:18 is from November 1953, and says:
“a most unusual book, a book in which Sheridan’s two great comedies are printed together, the text and the illustrations being borrowed from that edition of The School for Scandal which The Limited Editions Club published in 1934, and from that edition of The Rivals which The Limited Editions Club distributed to its lucky members only last year.”
Only last year should mean 1952, but according to Bill Majure’s guide, the LEC Rivals did not come out until September 1953 – only two months before the two-in-one HP volume. Maybe it had been intended to come out in 1952, but had been delayed. 1953 was an unusual year: it saw LEC members receiving three plays (the first two of them illustrated by ben Sussan!) in the space of five months: Volpone in July, The Rivals in September and Cyrano in November. That sounds as if there had had to be some last-minute reshuffling of the LEC Twenty-third Series. If anyone has the Prospectus for that series it might provider [sp] a clue…
Ben Sussan has a rather distinctive style that, for me at least, can clash with my perceptions of artistic aesthetic. However, I feel that with The Cid his gouache drawings fit in quite nicely with the text. The color choices, linework and blending of medieval and modern sensibilities are wonderfully executed, and out of the books I’ve seen of his art, this is the pinnacle.
Design Notes – Ben Sussan also designed the book, utilizing frequent Macy designer Jan van Krimpen’s Romulus Bold as the primary font. This was set at the Enschedé, a printing house in Holland, and the Heritage edition was taken from vinylite moulds of the LEC text by New York’s Ferris Printing Company. The Warren Paper Company of Maine supplied the paper. Ben Sussan’s work was reprinted by Kellogg & Bulkeley of Connecticut, and the books were bound by the ever-present Russell-Rutter Company, who seemingly bound 90% or so of the Heritage Press catalog. The binding features Ben Sussan’s lovely Moorish pattern that sold me on this book before I even opened it.
Title Page – V.S. Pritchett was called upon to write up an introduction.
Examples of the Illustrations by Ben Sussan (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I purchased this from Bookbuyers in Monterey a few years ago on store credit, if memory serves. The distinctive binding, as I mentioned before, caught my eye. I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but the Sandglass does a splendid job of making it sound intriguing!
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
Updated 11/14/2014 by JF
April 22, 2012 § 2 Comments
Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas (1958)
LEC #283/26th Series V. 4 in 1958
Artwork – Hand-colored illustrations by Edy Legrand
Introduced by Ben Ray Redman
LEC #144 of 1500
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Hello, everyone! Let’s begin today right with a LEC post. We all love those, right?
Twenty Years Later is the middle of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers trilogy, which is among the greatest works in French literature. Dumas received more than a few LEC editions, with The Three Musketeers seeing two releases, one in 1932 with Pierre Faulk’s illustrations as a 2 volume set, and a later 1953 edition with Edy Legrand’s art. The Count of Monte Cristo followed in 1941 in a massive four-volume set with Lynd Ward supplying his artistic touch. The lesser-known The Black Tulip came out in 1951 featuring the design of Jan van Krimpen and the art of Frans Lammers (both signed the books). Three more books featuring Legrand came next, all within the Three Musketeer canon: Twenty Years Later came out in 1958, The Man in the Iron Mask was sent out in 1965, and the last, Marguerite De Valois, was released in 1969. The last book of Dumas’ to see release was 1973’s The Queen’s Necklace, with Cyril Arnstram providing art for it. His son, Alexandre Dumas, fils had his major work Camille performed twice as well, making this father-son duo one of the few (if there are any others!) to have two LEC’s done for one of their respective works. French painter Marie Laurencin handled a 1937 edition, while Bernard Lamotte illustrated a later 1955 version.
I am pleased to share with you another whimsical collection of Edy Legrand’s artwork. I quite like his work, that I do, and it’s nice to have fully colored examples to showcase for you this time. I cover his career with George Macy in The Nibelungenlied post.
Here’s the announcement page with the publication details:
The boards are a lovely red with three fleurs–de–lis stamped in gold on the front. I believe this is common to all of the Legrand Dumas, with varying colors for the boards of each book.
Spine – The book was still in its wrappings when I bought it, thus the radiant red spine. Definitely one of the overall nicest exteriors of any LEC I own.
Title Page – For some reason, the translator of this and the other works of Dumas done by Legrand is notably lacking. Dumas wrote in French, so there was some translation work done here! The Monthly Letter also curiously omits this detail. We do know Ben Ray Redman introduces the book, but it’s a little weird that the George Macy Company doesn’t cite their translation source.
Signature Page – This is #144 of 1500, signed by Legrand. Legrand didn’t always sign his works; Don Quixote, Travels in Arabia Deserta and The Three Musketeers were all issued unsigned.
Page 46 – Such intensity. I haven’t read this yet, but I’m intrigued! I did have a rather unfortunate mishap with this book, though regarding this page. Apparently some glue had gotten stuck on the page following this illustration, and I had to rip them apart, to the detriment of some of the text. The pages weren’t torn in the process, but it was a little disheartening to somewhat assault such a lovely book.
Personal Notes – I bought this with store credit at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, CA, for $50 (i.e. two books I sold in). Nice shop, nice owners, worth a look if you’re in the area. It’s where I also got my Zadig, and hey, it’s got the same number. :) I’m also happy to have a signed Legrand!
Updated 7/6/2012 – JF
October 29, 2011 § 2 Comments
The Histories of William Shakespeare (1958)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Wood engravings by John Farleigh
Introduced by John G. McManaway
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC released all of the histories as individual books, along with the remainder of Shakespeare’s plays, through 1939 and 1940.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – All of the original releases of the Heritage Dramatic Works of Shakespeare (my designation) have this design on their boards. Alas, I do not know who came up with this motif – if you happen to know, please drop me a line.
Shakespeare was the most printed of the George Macy Company’s authors, with each of his plays receiving a LEC edition (a few got two), plus his sonnets and poems. The Heritage Press also had quite a few exclusives of the Bard – a set of sonnets, Romeo and Juliet, and these three compilations of plays broken up by the three major styles of drama – comedy, tragedy and history. Edward Arizzone (sp) performed artistic flourish to the comedies, Agnes Miller Parker the tragedies, and John Farleigh the histories.
While on the subject of Farleigh, now’s a good time to get a little into his illustrious illustration career. Farleigh is a master woodcutter with a unique style compared to his contemporaries, and he did a few commissions for George Macy, including this – he also produced art for the LEC Back to Methuselah by George Bernard Shaw (1939), and Prometheus Bound and Prometheus Unbound, a combination of Aeschylus and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s plays, printed for both the LEC and the Heritage Press in 1965. He is best known for another Shaw work done outside of the Macy canon – The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God in 1932, which received a fair amount of consternation back in the day for being such a bold book that tackled race, religion and sex in one fell swoop (not to mention Farleigh’s somewhat risque renderings of the tale).
Title Page – James G. McManaway supplies the introduction for this set, and Farleigh gets a chance to flaunt his interesting wood engraving style. Nice title page!
Page 9 – A piece from King John. I like the addition of red to the woodcut – it adds some vibrancy to the violence rendered here. Each play gets a solo woodcut.
Page 185 – This is from King Henry IV Part 1.
Personal Notes – I like Farleigh and Shakespeare, so finding my own copy is high on my list! This particular copy was from a library.
If you have a Sandglass for the Heritage New York printing, 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 book. Thanks!
October 1, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Wanderer/Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier (1958)
The Wanderer/Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier (1958)
LEC #288/26th Series V. 9 in 1958
Sandglass Number II:23
Artwork: Pen-and-pencil-plus-Wash drawings by Andre Dignimont
Translated from the French by Francoise Delisle, Introduced by Henri Peyre
# 384 out of 1500
Click the images to see larger views.
The LEC pictures will be on top, while the Heritage will be below.
Front Binding – The Wanderer, the lone novel from Alain-Fournier before his early death, is lovingly rendered by the LEC, with a colorful cloth covering the boards. One of my favorite bindings. However, from the front, this is not one of the Heritage Press’ more distinguished books. It’s fairly generic, with blue silken-finish cloth done up by the Russell-Rutter Company. Jean Garcia, who I just discussed in my post on the Moliere twofer, was responsible for the design of both books, but I have a hunch he had little say in the Heritage one’s binding, considering how barren it is. The Heritage book was housed in a silver slipcase – alas, my copy was lacking that adornment. You can see the LEC slipcase below.
The book is also similar to Garcia’s later treatment of the LEC and Heritage editions of Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman in that the illustrations are not colored as vibrantly in the Heritage edition compared to its LEC original. Andre Dignimont’s pen-pencil-wash drawings are lusciously colored by Walter Fischer’s studio in New York, but the Heritage reprints are much more restrained in color choice, as you’ll see.
Dignimont had a brief career with the George Macy Company, beginning here and concluding with Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone the following year. He passed away in 1965, so perhaps a sudden decline in health is why he ceased working for the Company. In his native France, he illustrated Colette’s The Vagabonds among others.
Spine – The majority of the Heritage edition’s class comes from its spine, stamped in three colors. It reads Heritage on the bottom, which my camera did not catch. Wish this was on the front, too…and while I’m wishing, I must say I prefer this over the LEC design by a long shot…so I wish it was on my LEC, too. Ah well.
Title Page – Here’s the first example of our illustration coloring. The LEC utilizes more than two colors, and look far more lush than the more limited palette of the Heritage. This alone makes the LEC worth it, as Dignimont’s art benefits greatly from the richer variety.
Garcia’s choice of font is the popular Garamond, one that still sees plenty of action in our computer era. The Thistle Press’ (and George Macy Company alumni) Bert Clarke and Dave Way set the type and printed it for both, while Dignimont (shortened to his last name here in the book) had his classy pen-and-pencil drawings reproduced by the Photogravure and Color Company, and then were colored by The Arrow Press for the Heritage, and by William Fischer for the LEC. The Heritage paper, made by Crocker, Burbank of Fitchberg, Massachusetts, is of a Hermes Eggshell Natural White tone – afraid I don’t know the LEC’s. (whew). Having not read this yet, I can’t say for certain if Dignimont was an ideal fit, but I do like his style. The drawings employ a three-in-one technique of pen, pencil and wash, that the Sandglass says “combines grace with strength, delicacy with power”.
Signature Page – This copy was #384 of 1500, and Dignimont provides his signature.
Page 12 – I do like the vibe of this one. It has a sense of urgency despite there being a relatively barren street. The LEC, as par the course here, is even more amazing.
Page 17 – Other colors were used for the Heritage than blue and pink – yellow shows its face, too, as you can see here, as well as green. Most use two shades of color to decorate Dignimont’s lines, but there’s at least one that uses three. Still, it pales to the LEC.
Personal Notes – I got the Heritage first from Page One Used Books in Mariposa for volunteering before she closed up shop. The LEC original Django2694 was kind enough to ship to me in exchange for two other books I didn’t want to keep, and I’m very happy with the switch. Thanks again!
I could use some insights into the LEC edition, so if you have a Letter, 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 book. Thanks!
September 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1958)
LEC # 287, 26th Series, V. 8
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Agnes Miller Parker
Introduced by Robert Cantwell
#403 out of 1500
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Thomas Hardy’s second LEC, issued in 1958 two years after Tess of the D’Urbervilles, continues the stylistic motif established by its predecessor. Curiously, in 1942 the Heritage Press started off this series with The Return of the Native, but the LEC never reprinted it for their members. Agnes Miller Parker was the illustrator for it, too, and the design is identical – repeating art from Parker over the boards in a vibrant color (in this case purple), so who really knows what happened. At any rate, in 1956 the LEC began their four book series of Hardy – following Far from the Madding Crowd was The Mayor of Casterbridge in 1964 and Jude the Obscure in 1969.
Mrs. Parker was among the more productive women artists on George Macy’s commission list, with a solid seven assignments for the LEC and two Heritage Press books. She began with the lovely Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray back in 1938 (I have the Heritage of this, so look forward to it!), began her Hardy run with the aforementioned Heritage Return of the Native, and then had a brief hiatus until 1953, where her artistic talents were called on, alongside John Austen, for The Faerie Queene. She then completed the four remaining Hardy novels, a Heritage compilation of Shakespeare’s Tragedies in 1958/59, and a Poems of William Shakespeare in 1967. Jude the Obscure would be her final contribution to the Company. She is quite well known for her George Macy Company output, which is deserving, as she shone brightly among the many astounding artists who provided artistic assets to the LEC and Heritage Press.
The book was printed at the University Press at Cambridge, but that’s about all I can tell you about the design process of the book due to no LEC letter. A.G. Hoffman did Return of the Native, and John Dreyfus designed the Heritage Jude the Obscure, so I can make an assumption that the latter performed the same task here due to the similar choice in design and the surge in Hardy’s novels being produced in this period, but I won’t proclaim that as fact until I hear from one of my LEC compatriots.
Spine – It’s leather, I can say that much!
Slipcase – The slipcase also has the Parker design from the boards on its sides, which is a nice touch.
Title Page – Robert Cantwell has written up the introduction, and Parker’s wood engraving of a stately manor sets the mood. I haven’t read this book, but I’m curious as to how it goes thanks to Parker!
Signature Page – Parker’s signature is here (and it’s among the nicer ones!), and this copy is #403. Studious viewers of this blog may recollect that number, and with good reason, as I’ve snagged several LEC’s from this member from my favorite bookshop. Shame they seemed to make the letters vanish!
Signed Print of Page 5’s Woodblock – From what I can gather, every member was sent a Japanese paper print of Parker’s Page 5 woodblock, which Parker signed and dated. Jude the Obscure would also be issued in the same manner. The print sold me on the book – I love Parker’s work, and I’m trying to figure out some way of framing this that won’t damage it.
Page 17 – Dynamic rendering of a fairly static, ordinary exercise – that’s talent!
Personal Notes – I bought this at my favorite book store in Monterey, California, for $80. It’s currently the most expensive LEC I’ve purchased, but the print made it worth it to me, and it’s nice to finally have a signed Parker in my collection.
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 book. Thanks!