Limited Editions Club: Quarto-Millenary (1959)

December 4, 2016 § 1 Comment

Quarto-Millenary: 250 Publications of the Limited Editions Club (1959)
Special Publication of the LEC.
Artwork: Reproductions of various LEC editions.
Introduced by Robert L. Dothard. Critique by Paul Beaujon, Paul A. Bennett, Edward Alden Jewell, James Laver, Thomas Craven and John T. Winterich. Commentary in the Bibliography by George Macy.
LEC #114 of 2250 (1500 for membership, 750 for distribution outside of the Club). LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.


Front Binding – Long time no see! As you may have gathered, my life was not in a place where I could devote much time to covering the publications of the George Macy Company and its handlers; to be brief, I recently separated from my wife amiably after discovering that we weren’t happy together any more. Don’t worry, though — I’m doing fine and am finally at a good point to pick up this project once again (good thing, too, as I’m getting backlogged!).

Our book today is the Quarto-Millenary, a thorough and wonderful resource for any collector interested in the Limited Editions Club under George Macy’s tenure. Issued in 1959 as a special publication, it finishes the dream of Macy to properly archive the history of his Club at a crucial point of its lifeline, and stops just short of the end of the 23rd series’ conclusion in 1955. Unfortunately, Macy passed away in 1956, leaving it unfinished; thankfully, publisher Robert L. Dothard explains how the book came to be in his Introduction. According to Dothard, Macy got the idea to cover the entirety of the LEC enterprise after the Shakespeare set issued its own record, Ten Years and William Shakespeare. He desired to mirror the format of that little book: a collection of critical commentary on literature, fine printing, and as illustrated tomes; next, he planned to provide several photographs of the work of the Club as an example of how he felt the art should be produced; next, the bibliography, complete with Macy’s thoughts and insights into most of the editions issued; and last, a proper index. As the 250th volume of the Club approached, he began in earnest this project. He wanted a comprehensive survey of his Club, done up as detailed above, with his personal selections for the pages to represent the Club’s artistic merits as fine press books, with the pages to be reprinted exactly as they originally were. The critique was called for from major essayists of the day, and the beginning of Macy’s detailed bibliography took form. He coined the title, and started the immense selection of the representations to be included…but alas, time ran out for Macy before he could get the project completely off the ground. Stalled, Helen Macy stepped in and recruited Dothard to take over the design and publication of the book. With the assistance of Max M. Stein, production manager for the LEC, and Yetta Arenstein, who assisted editing the Bibliography and Indexes, Dothard completed the monumental task of Macy’s dream archival record in 1959.

The book is formatted as such: Critique, provided by several key contributors (including John T. Winterich, who has written several forewords and possibly even some letters for the Club! We’ve seen him plenty over the years); Conspectus (the collection of images from the many books from the Club); Bibliography, and Indexes. It’s a lovely history of George’s era of the Club, arguably its finest in its long line, and is definitely worth checking out if you’re into Macy’s publications.

Design Notes – As noted, Dothard was the primary designer of the book, taking cues from Macy’s original plan but acting on his own to execute it. A. Colish and Clarke & Way handled the text composition and printing, while a multitude of illustration printers tackled the reprinted Conspectus: Crafton Graphic Company, W.S. Cowell Ltd., The Curwen Press, George C. Miller, Photogravure and Color Company, and Walter Fischer. The paper is an Archer white provided by the Curtis Paper Company, and the binding was done by Russell-Rutter’s Frank Fortney (by the way, 170 of the volumes featured were bound by Fortney, so no wonder his name pops up so often!).






Title Page – A simple yet dainty design with a lot of color. Nice!


Dedication – Helen Macy provides some generous words about her husband and the people responsible for the publication of this and future books.


Colophon – This exceeded the usual 1500 publication limit by 750, more than likely to distribute to crucial repositories and libraries. This is #144 of the 1500 allotted to the membership.

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

Personal Notes – I got this from Carpe Diem Fine Books in Monterey a week or two back. I was astounded to see it; I was further shocked by the $75 price tag! That seemed so low to me that it was almost decided then and there to buy it. However, there was a 30% off sale (with the potential for it to go up to 50% if I could find five books!), so I did dig around in the hopes of seeing if I could pull off some sort of amazing purchase of five LECs to get the greater discount. I did not, so immediately I went back and grabbed this. The good news is that the other LEC I found, The Three Plays of Ibsen, ended up being essentially free thanks to the combined 30% discount, so I have double the reason to be merry about acquiring this lovely resource!

PS – Macy’s notes will likely be an Of Interest post in the future!

I’m not sure if this came with Monthly Letter — I will find out and report back with it if possible.

Heritage Press – The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1959)

November 11, 2012 § 6 Comments

The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1959)
Sandglass Number: XII:24
Artwork: Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett and Avrahm Yarmolinsky (Stavrogin’s Confession), introduced by Marc Slonim
Reprint of LEC #305, 38th Series, V. 2 in 1959

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Welcome to November, friends of the blog! School is beginning to wind down a little, so I am feeling I can squeeze out a post for our final Reader Request for 2012 with little repercussion. Today is yet another Dostoevsky novel, The Possessed. And yes, it’s once again illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. Even the Sandglass pokes fun at this seemingly perpetual pairing. Both have their publishing careers thoroughly detailed in the last post to see their combined talents, The Brothers Karamazov.

So, with a ton of history already covered, I can focus on this particular issuing. Eichenberg did engravings for this book, yet the Sandglass fails to describe if they were wood or stone ones. The reprint quality lacks the sharpness of the woodcuts done for Crime and Punishment, but is more in line with the Karamazov stone lithographs. Of course, this means little if the printers failed to do the job properly, which could be the case. The reproduction and reprinting of Eichenberg’s art fell to The Meriden Gravure Company, one I personally am not familiar with. Django6924 offers some thoughts on the matter:

I checked the illustrations above against the ones in my LEC copy and did not see a great difference with the exception of the reproduction of the illustration of the Gadarene swine. Although the bulk of the illustration is a close match for the LEC, the swine in the foreground on the Heritage version are remarkably lighter–indeed, it’s much easier to see the detail of their bristles in the Heritage than in my LEC copy, where the foreground is rather inky. The ground to the right of the swine is also much lighter in the Heritage–in the LEC it is a solid black. The Meriden Gravure Company also did the reproductions of the engravings for the LEC copy, and they have done many other LEC and Heritage volumes.

So, perhaps it was a deliberate choice. I guess I prefer a more black-to-white consistency over a slew of grays.

As for other production information, Peter Oldenberg served as the designer for this work, and apparently he was at the time a mere fifteen miles away from Mr. Eichenberg’s residence. Primer was the font of choice, with bigger titles in Columbia Bold. Smaller titles were rendered in Normande, so font lovers will have three to fawn over in this one. Printing duties were handled by Case, Lockwood and Brainard of Hartford, Connecticut, Russell-Rutter once more bound the book, and its pages were supplied by Crocker-Burbank Company.


Title Page – Constance Garnett’s the unsurprising choice for translator, although a suppressed chapter she omitted has been restored to the LEC/Heritage edition, translated by Avrahm Yarmolinsky, who has contributed to the club before for Karamazov and Eugene Onegin. Marc Slonin offers up an introduction. Eichenberg’s art here is relatively well printed, but the two below seem faded or faint to me. Judge for yourselves!

Contents Page

Page 26 – Despite my quibbles about the printing, Eichenberg continues to shine artistically.

Personal Notes – I got this from Bookhaven in Monterey if my memory serves me well. Yes, that was the “secret shop” I’ve referred to in years past. Alas, they were concluding their business days when I last was in town with no money and no time to go see them, and I will miss them greatly. As I mentioned before, expect a eulogy at some point, as they were a vital source of my overall collection.


Limited Editions Club – The Memoirs of Saint-Simon (1959)

February 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Memoirs of Louis de Rouvroy due de Saint-Simon (1959)
Sandglass Number XV:23
Artwork – Drawings by Pierre Brissaud
Selected, translated, edited and introduced by Desmond Flower
LEC #297/27th Series V. 6 in 1959
LEC #403 of 1500

Click the images for larger views. LEC will be on top/left, Heritage on bottom/right (unless otherwise stated)

Front Binding – Well, I lost my first rendition of this post to the void of WordPress oblivion, so I’m condensing a lot of my memories of what I originally wrote so I can get this properly posted.  If it seems a bit terse, I apologize, but I did lose a hour of work. XD

For the memoirs of French soldier/diplomatist Louis de Rouvroy due de Saint-Simon, Sir Francis Meynell (founder of the Nonesuch Press) handled design duties.  He chose Monotype Garamond 156 to serve as its font (which, according to the Sandglass, was likely the first time the font had been used in an American book!), and the George Macy Company recruited Frenchman Pierre Brissaud to render the royality-filled world Saint-Simon depicted in his memoirs into illustration.  Brissaud is no stranger to this blog, with his Cyrano de Bergerac and The Story of Manon Lescault being highly praised by your faithful curator already, and this is another testament to his astounding talent.

As for the comparative aspect of the two versions, the Heritage is one volume versus the LEC’s two, which is fairly obvious methinks.  Secondly, the Heritage lacks the decorative gold border by its edges.  Third, the spine designs are different, which you can see below.

Spine – The LEC has faded into a light yellow-orange compared to its vibrant red.  The sun is a harsh mistress.

Slipcase – Sorry for the fuzziness on the HP slipcase.  Both went with blue, and it works nicely.

Title Pages – The Heritage ran with the second volume’s title page for its own, and I also think it’s more colorful than many of the other selections in that edition.  The major difference here is the lack of a Volume announcement and the year being dropped in preference for “New York”.  You can compare the Heritage rendition of the LEC title page below.

Clarke and Way of The Thistle Press were responsible for handling the LEC edition – without a letter, I can’t go too deep into the process.  Brissaud’s artwork was reproduced into gravures by the Photogravure and Color Company, and after Brissaud colored the gravures and sent them back to the George Macy Company, the artists at Walter Fischer Studios rendered each book’s illustrations into those colors by hand.

A quick run-down of the Heritage printing process: printed by Kellogg & Bulkley of Hartford, Connecticut, on specially made paper provided by Oxford Paper Company, bound by Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter.  Colors were done by the Arrow Press based off of Herbert Rau’s rubber plates taken from the gravures Brissaud colored.

Signature Page –#403, signed by Brissaud.

Page 28 (LEC)/Page 26 (HP) – Note how colorful and rich the LEC edition is compared to the more subdued Heritage.  The addition of additional colors makes each scene in Saint-Simon’s life re-imagined by Brissaud flourish in its resurrection.  The Heritage is almost the afterimage of such glory.  The colors really do make the argument to go with a LEC edition for this particular biographical memoir.

Page 48 (LEC)

Page 3 (HP) – Compare with the LEC title page.

Genealogical Tree (LEC) – This is bound into the second volume of the LEC edition at the conclusion of its tale, while the Heritage is loosely lain into the book.

Personal Notes – I picked this up for $45, and it’s in splendid shape beyond the sunned spines.  Acquired from my favorite shop in its top secret locale. :p  The Heritage was purchased for $12 at the same store a year or two prior, if my memory’s correct.

I had a chance to discuss with the owners a bit of history relating to the member whose estate the shop bought this lot of LEC’s from.  #403 was based in Carmel, California, and had a lovely house that was more glass than anything else.  That explained why so many of the books seemed to have been sunned so heavily.  It would seem from my experience that #403 was with this collector from the mid-to-late 1950’s to the early 1980’s.  This and Three Men in a Boat make for eight books from this member’s collection now residing in mine.


Limited Editions Club: The Three-Cornered Hat by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (1959)

October 2, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Three-Cornered Hat by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (1959)

The Three-Cornered Hat by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón(1959)
LEC # 298, 27th Series, V. 7
Artwork: Drawings by Roger Duvoisin
Translated by Martin Armstrong, Introduced by Gerald Brenan
#403 out of 1500

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – This is one of my favorite bindings of all my LEC’s.  It’s colorful, a fantastic design and feels soft to the touch.  I wish I could tell you what it was made of, but I didn’t get a letter, so I’m unsure of how it was made or who did the design work.  Also, it never saw a Heritage reprint from what I can tell.

What I can tell you about is the small but stunning contributions of Swiss illustrator Roger Duvoisin, who is best known in the Macy sphere for his Heritage Mother Goose commission in 1936, his first and most famous.  Following this he rendered two Robert Louis Stevenson works, A Child’s Garden of Verses in 1944 and Travels with a Donkey in 1957, and then did this, The Three-Cornered Hat, in 1959.  He won the Caldecott Medal for his art for Alvin Tresselt’s White Snow, Bright Snow in 1948 and a honor Caldecott for Hide and Seek Fog in 1966, so children’s books seemed to be a good fit for him. 

The Three-Cornered Hat, by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, is probably one of the more adult-oriented tales Duvoisin rendered art for, as its plot follows a lustful magistrate who attempts to woo over a miller’s loyal wife.  It went on to become a popular ballet composed by Manuel de Falla, and would be filmed several times by Spanish filmmakers.  Alarcón became famous for this, but he did other novellas, travel writings and essays.  This would be his sole LEC contribution, however.


Slipcase – A very bold orange, that this is.

Title Page – The Plantin Press handled printing duties under the eyes of Saul and Lillian Marks, who did a few LEC jobs for the George Macy Company.  Apparently this was printed at the Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, which is sort of appropriate given its Spanish heritage.  Martin Armstrong brought Alarcón’s words into English, and Gerald Brenan gave the work a proper intro.

Signature Page – Duvoisin signed his final work for the LEC, and this is #403 of 1500 copies.

Page 5 – Duvoisin’s work comes in two forms – linework with no color and what appears to be watercolored drawings.  Here’s an example of the lines…

Page 13 – And one of the colored.  Duvoisin also did full page drawings, as you’ll see below.

Page 17 – I think his whimsical style works well with Alarcón’s tale.

Personal Notes – I was dumbstruck at the soft, beautiful binding and vibrant color of the slipcase (I happen to like orange), and I also enjoyed the interior quite a bit.  I needed some Spanish flair to my collection, and Alarcón’s work fit the bill.  I paid $40 for it in Monterey.

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!

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