Limited Editions Club: The Chronicles of Jean Froissart (1959)

The Chronicles of Jean Froissart (1959)
LEC #306/28th Series V. 3 in 1959
Artwork: Illustrations by Henry C. Pitz
Introduction by Sidney Painter, edited by G.C. Macaulay, translated by John Bourchier, Lord Berners
LEC #1351 of 1500. Heritage Press reprint available.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – April is nearly over but before it folds into May it’s time for a proper book post, and this month brings The Chronicles of Jean Froissart, or Johan Froyssart, or John Froissart. There’s quite a few ways to state Froissart’s name it seems, as the title page and the Monthly Letter share several, but from here on in I will stick with just Froissart.

Froissart was born in 1337 in what is now northern France, and became perhaps the most notable historian of his country (and perhaps Western Europe) during the course of his life. Not much is known about him as a person — he seemingly came from a middle class family and managed to land a secretarial job for English consort Phillippa, perhaps due to their shared home of Valenciennes. He was chiefly writing poems praising his employer for a time, but began to take notes of the various battles breaking out across the continent, which eventually spurred the totality of The Chronicles. After Phillippa’s death as Queen in 1369, Froissart became priest of a parish due to connections with her cousin Guy de Chatillon, and later became the personal chaplain for de Chatillon.

Over the course of his life he kept taking notes, traveled extensively and was very well known by the time of his death around 1410. He knew Chaucer, and likely the two did meet at some point. His Chronicles had enough clout to capture the attention of King Henry VIII of England, who issued Lord Berners to translate the text of Froissart’s notes into English following manuscripts in his native French, of which the Limited Editions Club reprints here. This would be the sole publication of Froissart, but the Heritage Press did reissue it for their members.

Henry C. Pitz makes his debut on the blog, but not for the Club, as he had two prior titles under his belt by the time The Chronicles was released in 1959: one third of the final set of Evergreen Tales, namely “Hansel and Gretel”, issued in 1952, followed by Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son, which came out in 1954 for both the Club and the Heritage Press’ long series of Dickens releases. Following The Chronicles came James Fenimore Cooper’s The Spy in 1963, followed by perhaps the most famous work he illustrated for, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott in 1967, which so happened to be his last. Pitz notes that, by the time Chronicles was issued, that Dombey was “about the one hundred and sixtieth” book he had illustrated; quite a run! I have seen two of these, this and The Spy, and both are lovely.

Design Notes – As this is beyond the Quarto, I will pull the particulars out of the Monthly Letter I was fortunate to receive with this book. Peter Beilenson acted as designer, selecting Granjon 12 point to serve as the font. The page numbers (or Folios, as noted in the Letter) are in Civilité, last seen in the Koran. The book is 7 1/4 by 11 inches, bound by Frank Fortney at Russell Rutter in a three-piece design with cloth covered with escutcheons, with a set of halberds on the front and back portions of the spine buckram, with the spine itself gold-stamped a shield with the title and author. Inside features gray Archer paper from the Curtis Mill in Newark, Delaware. Lastly, Pitz’s stunning double page wash-and-line drawings were printed by the Crafton Graphic Company, colored by Walter Fischer’s studio by hand. A map was done by a separate artist, Rafael Palacios.

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Title Page – Several hands were on deck to assist with the text on this one. As mentioned, Lord Berners, aka John Bourchier, served as the translator back in the 1400s, with G.C. Macaulay performing editing duties. Sidney Painter wrote the introduction, with a note on the translation by Macaulay AND a preface by Bourchier. I quite like this title page with Pitz already making a bold statement right off the bat with his excellent illustrations.

Colophon – This is #1351 of 1500, and was signed by Pitz.

Examples of Pitz’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – This was one of several books sent to me by fellow Devotee NYCFaddict, much like several others I’ve been spotlighting lately. I do have to say that it is a stunning book that demonstrated that the Club could continue to produce remarkable editions under Helen Macy, and is easily among the best of the books put out in the 50s following George’s death that I’ve come across.

Limited Editions Club: The Way of the World by William Congreve (1959)

The Way of the World by William Congreve (1959)
LEC #301/27th Series V. 10 in 1959
Artwork: Illustrations by T.M. Cleland
Introduced by Louis Kronenberger

#1358 of 1500.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – Today’s post comes from a notable English playwright not named William Shakespeare — instead, it’s William Congreve, who rose in prominence in the late 1600s with his theatrical works and poetry. This is probably his best known work, although a few of his lines in The Mourning Bride (1697) have become common parlance in terms of quotation: “Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast [beast]” and “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” are paraphrases of Congreve’s actual lines in that play. However, the George Macy Company only showered Congreve with this sole LEC edition (which is also available in a Heritage reprint, with a blue cloth binding if I remember right). This is a rather lovely book regardless of that fact. I love this binding, and it’s a book I’ve actually wanted to add to my collection for a while now in either format.

Congreve’s comedic narrative was brought to life by T.M. Cleland, last seen here performing a similar design philosophy for Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer. Cleland’s bibliography is covered in my Monsieur Beaucaire post (which doesn’t step too far away from this design as well; perhaps it was part of an unstated series). As with those books, he served as both illustrator and designer for this book as well. Thankfully, Cleland’s vision for this set is pretty nice to look at, especially the title page. I also find the illustrations in this book to be reproduced a little better than in Beaucaire.

Design Notes – Cleland’s design was executed by A. Colish, with his own illustrations being printed by the Photogravure and Color Company and colored by Walter Fischer’s studio. However, I don’t have a ML nor is one available to me at the moment, so I’m afraid this is the most I can share for now.

Front Binding (contrast adjusted to spotlight the detail) – This design is also on the back of the book.

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Title Page – Cleland has a way of heightening title pages; he’s consistently done some elegant and classy ones over the books we’ve covered of his thus far. And, in a curious twist, Louis Kronenberger is called to serve as the Introduction writer here, the second of at least three collaborations with Cleland. The History of Tom Jones came first, with She Stoops to Conquer following this book.

Colophon – This is copy 1358 of 1500 and signed by Cleland.

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

Personal Notes – This is the latest LEC to come into my hands; I actually found it at my local Goodwill a few months ago for $4, along with a second copy of The Three Cornered Hat. I snagged them both, in the hopes that the latter will help me next time I head to Monterey in earning some store credit somewhere. Both were in great condition in terms of the books themselves; the slipcase for this one is a little ragged, but I view that as it doing its job over the years. I adore the binding on this so I’m pleased as punch to have it.

Limited Editions Club: The Birds by Aristophanes (1959)

The Birds by Aristophanes (1959)
LEC #304/28th Series V. 1 in 1959
Artwork: Illustrations by Marian Parry
Introduced and translated by Dudley Fitts

#403 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – It’s been a while since we last encountered Aristophanes, hasn’t it? Well this isn’t the expensive book with his name attached to it — that’s Lysistrata, and we covered the Heritage edition of that a bit ago. I also updated that post a little with Aristophanes’ publishing history, just as a FYI.

This is the last book issued by the George Macy Company from the playwright; we’ll have to track down The Frogs to wrap it all up. Curiously, the Heritage Press paired this with The Frogs when they issued it around the same time as this volume. They didn’t do that often, but it did happen on occasion — one half of the book was The Birds, and then one could flip it over and there was The Frogs.

Marian Perry was recruited to provide pen-and-ink drawings to decorate the text, and she does an admirable job giving character to the events of the play. Some are printed in color, which gives it some pop. Parry only worked on this LEC, but she left a strong impression in my opinion.

Design Notes – Bert Clarke of Clarke and Way was the lead designer on this book, although Parry was heavily involved given how crucial her illustrations are to the design. Bembo was the font of choice, and the Thistle Press (aka Clarke and Way) printed the text in their own shop. They decided to double-fold the pages, a rarity for the LEC. The letter goes into the cutting of double-fold pages in some detail on Page 4. Curtis Paper provided the …well, paper, and binding was done by the ever-constant Frank Fortney.

Solander Case

Slipcase

Title Page – Dudley Fitts was the translator of the text for this edition, and provides some thoughts in an Introduction.

Colophon – Since I got this at Old Captiol Books (formerly BookBuyers), it’s #403 of 1500 like every other title I’ve purchased from there.

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

 

Personal Notes – I bought this at Old Capitol Books in Monterey last time I was there, which was shortly after Christmas in 2016. The majority of my LECs are from that delightful shop and its predecessor, and when I stopped in Monterey this past November I wasn’t able to make it there, so it was nice to revisit the store after a bit of a long gap. I took my time to make my decision, and given that I adore Aristophanes’ work, I felt it was high time to actually add a LEC of his to my collection.

LEC Monthly Letter

Limited Editions Club: Quarto-Millenary (1959)

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.

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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!).

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Slipcase

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

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

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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)

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.

Slipcase

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.

Sandglass: