July 7, 2018 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner (1961)
The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner (1961)
LEC #329/29th Series V. 7 in 1961
Artwork: Lithographs by Paul Hogarth
Introduced by Isak Dinesen
#921 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding – Hello friends, we’re back with another LEC offering, this time The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner. This was Schreiner’s sole LEC production, but the book does have a fascinating story behind it. But before we dig into that, let’s touch on Schreiner’s past a bit. She worked as a governess for two separate families in Cradock in the then-known Basutoland (now Lesotho), having been born and raised in the region. In her thirties she departed for England, and despite her relative lack of formal education had enough independent reading to formulate the manuscript for the novel before you now. However, in Victorian England a woman did not have the easiest time of publishing her own works, but Olive was tenacious and kept circulating her manuscript to various publishers. It eventually fell into the hands of George Meredith (of Shaving of Shagpat fame), who enjoyed her novel and pushed for his publisher Chapman and Hall to publish it. In 1883, the book was issued as a two-volume set under the name of Ralph Iron (see what I mean?). Eventually the work was attached to Schreiner, who had returned to Basutoland in 1891, married Samuel Cronwright (who affixed her last name to his), and continued to write, although none of her other literary efforts reached the acclaim of her first.
Another first is illustrator Paul Hogarth, an artist who had seen prior publications of Jane Eyre and The Pickwick Papers issued in foreign countries, and this was one of his earliest American contributions to book illustration. Unlike its author Hogarth would return to the LEC for three more commissions for Cardevon and Sid Shiff’s tenures with the Club: Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon in 1977, Robert Grave’s Poems in 1980, and Sassoon’s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer in 1981.
So let’s get into the meat of this book’s history. You may recall a little while back I produced a post on the “Booklover’s Journey of the World“. I’ll refrain from diving back into that well, but the short of it is that this book was originally planned to be a part of that series when George Macy was still alive and well, and would be entirely produced in Basutoland per the perimeters of the project. As that post documents, this was alas not a long-lived notion, as World War II dashed the enterprise before it could really take off. The newsletter is refreshingly candid about the doomed idea, showing how designer and then-Basutoland publisher Hans Schmoller reached out to Macy to produce a book at his press, and how Macy pitched Story to him, only for the War to intervene and for the suggestion to go unmoved. As the war ended and Schmoller relocated to England, Macy reconnected in the hopes of moving forward with the book once more, but Schmoller was not the head of a press and by the time he was head of the production team at Penguin Books in 1949 and in a role he could act on such a request, Macy’s health was in decline and it took another 12 years for the edition Macy had so yearned to create to become reality under his wife Helen’s eye.
Design Notes – Schmoller may have had to wait several years to execute this book, but he adhered to the original plan as much as he conceivably could. While the book’s text and black and white illustrations were ultimately printed by the Westerham Press in Kent instead of at Schmoller’s former Basutoland press Morija Printing Works, the binding maintained Macy’s intent of utilizing the bark-cloth tree’s namesake bark as the binding material. To the Club’s knowledge this is the first time the material was used to decorate the outside of a book, which was originally stitched together by Basuto women artisans well-versed in utilizing it for clothing and other means. Russell-Rutter per usual was the bindery. The spine’s red cloth and gold leaf design was created by Schmoller. Back to the innards: Dante was the font chosen for the text, with the Hollingworth Ltd.’s Turkey Mill producing the gray-rag paper. The Curwen Press reproduced Hogarth’s color lithographs.
Title Page – Noted author Isak Dinesen, pen name of Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke, provides an introduction.
Colophon – This is #921 of 1500, and signed by Hogarth.
Examples of the Illustrations by Hogarth (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – My good friend Django6924 sold this to me as part of his recent cull. Very happy to have this in my collection!
LEC Monthly Letter
December 19, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (1961)
Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (1961)
Sandglass Number I:26
Artwork: Illustrations by Lynd Ward
Introduction by Howard Fast
Reprint of LEC #321, 29th Series, V. 6 in 1961.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Salutations! Welcome back to our first post in the George Macy Imagery’s special Christmas book posting extravaganza! I apologize for the light updating this year, but I hope that having one post per day for over a week will even things out a little bit.
Anyway, our first post in this series is Rights of Man, done by the early American (ex-Brit) Thomas Paine in the heydays of the American Revolution and subsequent Constitutional Congress. Written originally as a rebuttal to the work of Edward Burke, Rights of Man continues to stand as one of the more extraordinary political documents in American history, crystallizing and championing the concepts of democracy and social welfare. However, this particular text was written in England post-Revolution, and was not, shall we say, considered a popular work in the eyes of the British government. Paine escaped capture courtesy of another name familiar to readers of this blog: William Blake. Blake warned Paine prior to the execution of Paine’s arrest attempt, and Paine slipped across the seas to France. A grand history of Paine’s exploits can be found in the Sandglass (which I will add later on). This was Paine’s first and only LEC/Heritage offering, but it’s a really nice one — perhaps one of my favorites of Helen Macy’s tenure of the Club.
The illustrator of our edition is not new to this blog; it’s one of the Company’s most frequent contributors, the impeccable Lynd Ward (We’ll see him tomorrow, too). Ward’s LEC bibliography is here. Ward is shuffled to the end of the Sandglass — curious choice, that, but he has certainly had his fair share of text in these letters prior to Rights of Man, so I don’t imagine it to be a slight. He went with drawings for this particular book, which retain his compelling style (unlike some artists who shift from their prominent medium to another, like Eichenberg for instance). The Heritage relied on red and black inks to convey his intent; I’ll let you know if the LEC printings were more dynamic.
Design Notes – Roderick Stinehour handled the design of this book — he also handled the designs for The Song of Roland. The text comes from the 1894 collection of Paine’s work compiled by Moncure D. Conway, and was printed in a dynamic Bulmer font in 14 point on an 18 point base. Typo Upright serves as the chapter/section/running headings font. Mead Paper Company supplied specially-made gray paper for this edition. George C. Miller & Son tackled the reprinting of Ward’s illustrations, while Reehl Printing Company took on the text. Russell-Rutter bound the text, and the cloth is a full linen emblazoned with, as the Sandglass puts it, “the red flames of revolution”.
Title Page – Author Howard Fast supplies an introduction, and Ward serves up a lovely portrait of Paine.
Examples of the illustrations by Ward (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal History – I am not 100% sure where I found this book. I think I got it from a Mariposa Library sale, but I do not recall. I’ve had it for quite some time now, and when you have a collection that has been in flux as much as mine, it’s difficult to remember every origin for every book.
I do look forward to reading it, though.
April 22, 2012 § 7 Comments
Welcome to our first comparison post of two differing versions of a work. Here we will discuss the original LEC Brothers Karamazov done in 1933 to a later Heritage reprint of the 1949 LEC. Both have the same translation, but feature distinctly different design and artistic traits unique to their editions. For this post I will focus on the 1933 LEC first, and then move onto the Heritage. Let’s start, shall we?
Note – I have just added the Monthly Letter to the King-illustrated Karamazov, but I have not updated the text to reflect the knowledge within. That will come.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1933, 3 volumes)
LEC #50/5th Series V. 2 in 1933
Artwork – Portrait Illustrations by Alexander King
Translated by Constance Garnett, Introduced by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
LEC #919 of 1500
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding (1933 LEC) – Since all three are unique (and lovely!) in their bindings, I snapped each one individually. I like the green/orange/blue shades and the crazy rib-like boards. D.B. Updike of the Merrymount Press handled printing duties (and potentially design duties as well, but I’m not sure of that). That’s unfortunately all I can tell you about the book’s creation.
Luckily, I do have plenty to tell you about the author’s history with the LEC (since I forgot to do so in my prior Dostoevsky posts on Crime and Punishment and The House of the Dead!). Fyodor Dostoevsky is the giant of giants in Russian literature, and with very good reason. The George Macy Company thought of him highly, and lavishly produced several editions of his works over their tenure, with future owners Cardevon and Sid Shiff joining in the fun as well. This set was the beginning of the long-lasting relationship in 1933, with the Heritage Crime and Punishment following in 1938 with Fritz Eichenberg’s woodcuts. The LEC would reprint that in 1948 as a 2-volume set. A revisit to The Brothers Karamazov followed in 1949, again featuring Eichenberg’s art, this time in stone lithographs. It’s clear that the Club caught Dostoevsky/Eichenberg fever from there, because all but one of the remaining publications unite the two again and again: 1956’s The Idiot, 1959’s The Possessed, 1974’s A Raw Youth (under Cardevon), and Sid Shiff’s concluding production of The House of the Dead in 1982. The only other case Eichenberg was not involved was the short story combo The Gambler and Notes from Underground, released in 1967 and starring Alexande Alexeieff as its illustrator. No wonder Eichenberg seems to be known in our circles as “the Russian illustrator”; He also did art for the works of Tolstoy (Resurrection, War and Peace), Pushkin (Eugene Onegin) and Turgenev (Father and Sons).
But enough with Eichenberg for the time being. His time will come in the second half of this monster of a post. Let’s focus on Alexander King, who is making his debut on our blog with this post. King deserves notoriety as being the very first illustrator for the Club, giving the 1929 Travels of Lemuel Gulliver his artistic flair. He next gave Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones his talent on 1931, with this set following that in 1933. Alas, that would be the end of the Macy connection. King was far more than an illustrator, though; he became a media sensation on The Tonight Show in later years, as well as writing several books, both fiction and non. He was a bohemian who got deep into drug addiction, multiple marriages and had several health problems, but he managed to leave his mark in the entertainment world. It’s fitting that he helped launch the decadent press that we love so well in a way.
Title Page – Constance Garnett is often the go-to for Russian translation for the Club, and this is a shining example of that practice (if not the first instance of that practice!). Avrahm Yarmolinsky is the introductory presenter here, an act he would do again for Eugene Onegin. The later 1949 printing reuses both Garnett and Yarmolinsky’s respective talents, which makes it all the more curious why they reprinted it. Well, Eichenberg’s work is spectacular in that, which is good enough for me!
Signature Page – Copy #919, with King’s signature.
Page 1 – King’s style is more cartoonish than Eichenberg’s, but it works. His portraits elude an intriguing sense of characterization, that they do.
Page 129 – I like the exaggerated eyes.
Personal Notes – Checked out from my UC library. Wouldn’t mind owning it!
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1961)
Sandglass Number: III: 33R
Artwork: Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett, Introduced by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
Reprint of LEC #197, 19th Series, V. 1 in 1949
Front Binding – Another splendid binding. Apparently The Brothers Karamazov has that effect on book designers. Here we get a great illustration of Dostoevsky done by Eichenberg; note the crucified foot to the right of his head. Both sides feature this stunning rendition of the author. Thanks to a Sandglass, I can tell you some design info on this one. The text is set in Original Old Style font, composed by E.L. Hildreth & Company. Printing was handled by the Duenewald Printing Corporation of New York on paper supplied by Finch, Pruyn and Company. Binding was by Russell-Rutter (man, that shop could have stayed alive just because of Macy’s interactions with them).
So, now I can blab about Fritz Eichenberg all I want. I noticed that I have utterly failed to list out every book he had a hand in for George Macy and the subsequent owners of the LEC, and I’d like to rectify that now. It all began with the Heritage Press. The 1938 Crime and Punishment set Eichenberg off on a long and storied career few other illustrators can match. He next performed his craft in the massive LEC Shakespeare set, rendering the grotesque Richard the Third. Eugene Onegin was next in 1943. The LEC Crime and Punishment followed in 1948, although I don’t think he did anything new for that re-release. The Brothers Karamazov came out in 1949. Fathers and Sons was next in 1951, and Hawthorne’s King Midas and the Golden Touch, released as part of a greater set of Evergreen Tales, went out in 1952. Goethe’s The Story of Reynard the Fox was shipped in 1954. A third Dostoevsky novel, The Idiot, was released in 1956, with another, The Possessed, coming out in 1959. Tolstoy’s Resurrection was unveiled in 1963. A second Tolstoy collaboration came under Cardevon’s ownership, with 1972’s Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. Dostoevsky’s A Raw Youth continued the chain in 1974. While Eichenberg did not illustrate the book’s pages, he did contribute a print to Villon’s Lyrical Poems in 1979. 1981 saw Eichenberg tackle Grimmelshausen’s The Adventures of Simplicissimus for Sid Shiff. 1982 saw the final Dostoevsky work the Club printed, with Eichenberg naturally attached, in The House of the Dead. The last LEC Eichenberg made illustrations for was Georges’ The Diary of a Country Priest in 1986. Almost a fifty year run! And I haven’t even touched on his two other Heritage exclusives, War and Peace and Gulliver’s Travels. In total, Eichenberg provided his incredible artwork for 15 LEC’s and 3 Heritage Press books, plus a bonus LEC print for the Villon (those numbers include Crime and Punishment in both their tallies, mainly because I’m not sure if Eichenberg did any further work for the LEC edition). Impressive, isn’t it?
Title Page – A little more snazzy than the 1933 edition, if I may say so.
Page 8 – The Sandglass lavishes most of its attention onto Eichenberg, in particular his creation of the stone lithographs for this novel. Definitely check it out, as a summary does not do the praise justice. These definitely are among his most breathtaking illustrations.
Page 14 – If there was ever any doubt of Eichenberg’s talent, may this spectacular piece wash it away. Among my favorites of his.
Personal Notes – This came in the massive lot I recently obtained from the Oakhurst Library. This was one of the books I got for free. Yes, you read that right. And it’s one I’ve coveted for years, and now it is mine, complete and in marvelous condition. :)
Well, that was a lot of information! I look forward to the next time I get the chance to do a comparison like this. Either way you go for this book, I think you’ll be rewarded handsomely. :)
November 26, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Nibelungenlied (1961)
The Nibelungenlied (1961)
Sandglass Number XII:25
Artwork: Line-and-wash drawings by Edy Legrand
Translated by Margaret Armour, Introduced by Franz Schoenberger
Reprint of LEC #311, 28th Series, V. 8 in 1960
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – I absolutely adore this particular binding. It’s extremely classy, and gives this German epic a wonderful first impression. The green, silver and dark brown (Rache-black the Sandglass says) are just beautiful. Designed by Arnold Bank (the interior by Jan Van Krimpen, finished before his death), this is a lovely tome and one of my favorites in the Heritage canon.
As for the epic itself, The Nibelungenlied has a fairly involved history, which the Sandglass gives in a fashion better than a summary of mine could create. Instead, I’m going to focus in on its illustrator, the wonderful Edy Legrand. I’ve not had a chance to introduce Legrand to you, and that’s a tragedy I plan of resolving today. Legrand began his George Macy career in 1939 with his spin on Hamlet for the Bruce Rogers-designed Shakespeare LEC set, followed in 1942 with the Heritage A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant (later printed by the LEC in 1952). Legrand would go on to be quite prolific in his artistic contributions to the Company, illustrating Beauty and the Beast for a set of Evergreen Tales in 1949, Don Quixote in 1950, Travels in Arabia Deserta in 1953, The Three Musketeers in 1953, Twenty Years After in 1958, The Confessions of Saint Augustine in 1962, The Man in the Iron Mask in 1965, and Marguerite de Valois in 1969 for the LEC, with no other Heritage exclusives. Rendering some of literature’s biggest names (Shakespeare, Dumas, Cervantes, de Maupassant, Saint Augustine) for the Company must have been such a thrill for Legrand to perform, and his work for Dumas’ novels are some of the more exquisite books I’ve seen, particularly The Three Musketeers. He passed away in 1970. I’ve owned only two books with Legrand’s name attached – this and a lousy copy of Hamlet, which I’ve been attempting to rediscover to take pictures for you.
Title Page – The German was translated by Margaret Armour, who was busy doing this kind of thing to other epics tied to this one (from what I can gather from the Goodreads page, at least). She also translated Heinrich Heine’s poems and was a poet herself. Franz Schoenberner offers an introduction.
For design notes, Van Krimpen went with Romulus for the majority of the text, recruiting S.L. Hartz to render the title and chapter initials in a very distinctive style. The New York Lithographic Company printed the book on paper from the Crocker-Burbank Company, and it was bound by the Russell-Rutter Company. It’s a fairly large book, one of the taller ones in my collection.
Page 1 – 2 – Legrand begins the epic with a dynamic collection of the major players. These drawings were printed by the Photogravure & Color Company. He went with a base black for one of the two colors, with a shade ranging from yellow to rose to blue for the other. Legrand was very pleased with the quality of the illustration printing (saying “no one on the Continent could have done a better job”), but I have a hunch he was referring to the LEC edition, not the Heritage reprint. Still, they are nice!
Page 3 – 4
Page 193 – An example of the blue.
Personal Notes – I spotted this book right off in my favorite haunt in Monterey, and immediately purchased it. I’m glad I did, as I’ve not seen it anywhere else since. Definitely want the LEC!
If you have a LEC copy, please drop me a line here or through the comments at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! I’d love to compare!
September 24, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – Monsieur Beaucaire by Booth Tarkington (1961)
Monsieur Beaucaire by Booth Tarkington (1961)
LEC # 329, 30th Series, V. 2
Artwork: Illustrated and Decorated by T.M. Cleland
Preface by J. Donald Adams
#403 out of 1500
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – A beautiful white/light brown cloth with a pretty clover pattern decorates Booth Tarkington’s one LEC selection, which is probably his best-regarded novel Monsieur Beaucaire. I’m not exactly sure how this was created. It looks embroidered, but I’m not 100% sure on that. I just put up the letter for this book, and I will peruse it when time allows and flesh this out a bit. While this was Tarkington’s only work published by the George Macy Company, he did contribute an introduction to the LEC Huck Finn, which is documented a few places on the internet, curiously enough.
The illustrator for Beaucaire is no stranger to the George Macy Company, however! T.M. Cleland (Thomas Maitland) was a busy man, beginning his career with Macy in the very first series of the LEC in 1930 with The Decameron, and continued until She Stoops to Conquer, done three years after Beaucaire. In total, Cleland rendered eight LEC’s with his artistic talents, and had a hand in designing others. His other major LEC productions include Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones and History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great, The Life and Times of Tristan Shandy, Gentleman by Lawrence Sterne, Montaigne’s Essays, and a lovely edition of William Cosgrave’s The Way of the World. He passed away in 1964, making She Stoops to Conquer among his final works. Cleland has a regal style that well suits this particular book. Out of what I’ve seen of his, I like Beaucaire the most, so I’m happy to have it.
Slipcase – This comes with a two-part case, giving the book a very nice presentation.
Title Page – I think Cleland’s greatest strength was in his title pages. The ones I’ve seen are all just exquisite. He knew how to make such a page pop, that he most certainly did. J. Donald Adams provides an preface to the work. I know A. Colish in Mt. Vernon, New York performed publishing duties, and that Cleland was responsible for the book’s design as well as its art, but that’s the extent of my knowledge.
Signature Page – As is par the course for the majority of my Monterey LEC’s, this is #403. 8 of the 20 LEC’s I have are from this particular number.
Page 21 – I prefer Cleland’s work with backgrounds. She Stoops to Conquer lacks them, and I don’t think Cleland’s style is as effective without some setting behind them. This is quite a lovely rendering.
Personal Notes – $35 netted me this lovely little gem, from my favorite Monterey area shop. I’m very happy with it. My wife helped me pick it out. :)
LEC Monthly Letter:
Updated 10/13/2012 – JF
January 27, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Oresteia by Aeschylus (1961)
The Oresteia by Aeschylus (1961)
Thirtieth Series, Book # 328 (1st of the series)
Artwork: Paintings by Michael Ayrton
Translated by E.D.A. Morshead, and introduced by Rex Warner
#403 out of 1500
Note: I’ve added in the Monthly Letter to the post, but I have not updated the post itself. That will come in time.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – This was designed by Adrian Wilson, and was bound by LEC mainstays the Russell-Rutter Company in a quarter crimson cowhide and a brown natural finish cloth for the spine label and sides. Thanks to kdweber for this info!
Spine – Mine’s a little faded.
Title Page – The Oresteia features the interesting illustrations of painter Michael Ayrton, who would also do a set of Euripedes’ plays for the Club. He has a very unique style that works well for the plays. The text is set in a special LEC font called Janson and American Uncial. The paper was Curtis antique, and the text was printed by A. Colish in Mt. Vernon, while Ayrton’s paintings were reproduced at the Photogravure and Color Company in New York. The book was translated by E.D.A. Morshead and introduced by Rex Warner. Again, thanks to kdweber for the info!
Signature Page – Here’s my copy’s signature page, which is #403. Ayrton provides his John Hancock, which is a rather nice one.
Page 53 – This is such a great capturing of terror. My favorite piece in the book.
Personal Notes – This was my third LEC, purchased at the same store in Monterey where I got my Man and Superman and House of the Dead, as well as many of my Heritage volumes. It’s a great book, but the translation takes the dry route, which bored me upon my attempt to read it. At least I enjoy Ayrton’s art!
I’m looking for comparisons to the Heritage reprint or any other insights, so if you have that info, please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! Thanks!