May 26, 2013 § 4 Comments
Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1962)
Sandglass Number IV-V:38
Artwork: Illustrated by Lucille Corcos.
Edited by Louis and Bryna Untermeyer, and introduced by the former. Includes an essay by Andrew Lang.
Reprint of LEC #340, 31st Series, V. 1 in four volumes in 1962 – 1963.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – The second visit to the fairy realms of the Brothers Grimm (and the first to appear under the Heritage Press banner) is our selection today. This two-volume set was originally four for the Limited Editions Club in 1962 and 1963, with one volume mailed out each month. As I understand it, the same happened for Heritage members. The first time the Grimm tales were printed was back in 1931, with the admirable Fritz Kredel handling the artistry and Rudolf Koch providing the design/typography. Hansel and Gretel joined a series of Evergreen Tales in 1952, starring Henry C. Pitz’s visual flourishes. George Macy apparently preferred the worlds of Hans Christian Andersen a little more; four titles revolving around Andersen were released in his lifetime, versus two for the Grimms (this was released about six years after Macy’s death in 1956).
Lucille Corcos rendered three LEC’s during her lifetime; Gogal’s Dead Souls was the first in 1944, with a surprisingly smaller limitation number of 1200 copies versus the usual 1500. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray came next in 1957, with this set by the Grimms serving as her final contribution. All of these saw Heritage releases. Her colorful watercolors and whimsical linework capture the fantastical imagery of the Brothers Grimm pretty well, I’d say.
Design-wise, the man responsible for its look was newcomer Andor Braun, who utilized a 12 point Janson font for the text. De Roos Semi-Bold and De Roos In-Line were adopted for the titles and inline letters. John Stone was the typist, or the one who put the text where it needed to be, for lack of a better term at the present. :p Connecticut Printers did the text printing work on Crocker-Burbank paper, while Corcos’ watercolors were recreated at Michael Pagliaro’s lithographic shop. Russell-Rutter shockingly did the binding to these books (sarcasm, folks).
Slipcase – I don’t know about you, but I do like it when I get a decorated slipcase with my books, and this one is quite nice. Django6924 informs me that this design was what actually covered the boards for the LEC.
Title Page (Volume I) – Ah, Louis Untermeyer (and his fifth wife Bryna)! It’s been quite a while since Untermeyer made an appearance on the blog; the last time was the Paul Bunyan he specially adapted for the clubs. Here he split the editorial duties with his wife, who had a knack for this sort of thing; she did some Children’s book treasuries of her own. He also supplies an introduction. What’s quite curious is the second essay, plucked from the papers of author/critic Andrew Lang long after his death in 1912. He too was a fairy taler, doing a series with colored differentiations in the titles. A bit more on him can be seen in the comments (see Robert’s post). So, solid choices all around. And a nice title page from Corcos to set the mood!
Examples of the In-text Illustrations by Corcos in Volume I (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I have a story about my acquisition of this book. It was 2010. I had just been laid off from my second bookselling gig, and was looking for work at a bookshop near my college town of Merced. I waltzed into Second Time Around for the third time, hoping that I would actually bump into the owner this time. Lo and behold, she was there, and so was this. I was impressed with how nice it looked, and asked how much it was. She haggled with me a bit and we settled on $30 when I had it. The interview was also fairly positive, although she was not hurting for help at that moment, so I was not hired (I started volunteering shortly afterwards to show how much I wanted the job, which probably helped). While I was engaged in this conversation a woman walked in to do some Christmas shopping. She overheard my plight and, out of the goodness of her heart, bought this set for me. I do not know her name, but it was incredibly generous of her to do that for someone she did not know, so I dedicate this post to her in thanks for her kindness. :)
Sandglass (right click and open in new tab for full size):
May 25, 2013 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1962)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1962)
Sandglass Number II:27
Artwork: Lithographs in color by Jean Charlot
Introduced by Granville Hicks
Reprint of LEC #331, 30th Series, V. 4 in 1962
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Enough with the non-book oriented posts; let’s get back to what this blog is all about, shall we? Today’s post is a great example of design; the lovely The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. Wilder made his first appearance here introducing Oedipus the King, but now we have an actual work of his to consider. Wilder’s best known perhaps for his play Our Town (which received a LEC in 1974 that Wilder signed along with its artist Robert J. Lee!), but in terms of his fiction, it’s hard to argue against The Bridge of San Luis Rey being his most renowned. Those two works would be all he would see in terms of LEC content.
Jean Charlot provided his touch for The Bridge of San Luis Rey, the second and last commission he would receive from the Club. His prior contribution was Prosper Merimee’s Carmen back in 1941. He has a pretty distinctive style that I think works well with the book’s content, and the Sandglass gets into his background pretty intensely if you’d like to know more.
Production notes: Designed by Peter Oldenburg. Font is Monotype Plantin 12-pt, with headers in Plantin 9-pt. Titles and initials are in Albertus. Printed by The Thistle Press on Ticonderoga Mills creme-white laid paper. Russell-Rutter as usual provided the binding. The lithographs were done in a four-color fresco format on zinc plates, and were pulled by George C. and Burr Miller in New York.
Title Page – A very bold title page awaits you here; this is one of my favorites. Granville Hicks wrote up some thoughts on the work for an introduction.
Examples of the In-text Illustrations by Charlot (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This copy was picked up at Second Time Around Used Books in Merced, well before I worked there for a year, probably in 2009 or 2010. I quite like it, and look forward to reading it sometime.
Sandglass(right click and open in new tab for full size):
Heritage Press: The Arabian Nights Entertainments – The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1962)
June 26, 2011 § 2 Comments
The Arabian Nights Entertainments – The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1962)
Sandglass Number 30R
Artwork: Illustrations by Valenti Angelo
Introduced, Annotated and Translated by Sir Richard F. Burton
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #59/5th Series, V. 12 in 1934.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – The Arabian Nights Entertainments, aka The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, were exquisitely rendered as a LEC in 1934, featuring 1001 separate illustrations from Valenti Angelo. This was his very first LEC project, and what a way to start! His simplistic yet graceful drawings give this book a wonderfully memorable cover. For more on Angelo, visit my post on Salome.
As for Sir Richard Burton, his translations of Arabic classics saw a fair amount of print from the George Macy Company. The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yazdi followed this in 1937, with Angelo returning to decorate it. The Arabian Nights Entertainments was redone in 1954 with the marvelous Arthur Szyk giving it his artistic touch. Presumably the two Arabian Nights are one and the same in terms of content, but I’m not quite sure. The Heritage Press re-released Angelo’s spin on The Arabian Nights in 1962, smashing six volumes into three. Szyk’s was also re-released, condensed from four volumes to two. Szyk’s is not all of the Arabian Nights Entertainments. Django6924 was kind enough to pass along this information:
It is in 2 volumes rather than 4 as the LEC, and the ornamentation on the binding is in silver, rather than gold.
This set is really all about Szyk, as it only contains 65 of the stories–the ones told by Scheherazade–without all the other tales that were attached to the framework (including most of the famous ones: Sindbad, Ali Baba, etc.).
I have not seen the LEC edition of this work, but I suspect the illustrations will have slightly more saturated colors than my Heritage edition. Incidentally, since Szyk died before publication, the LEC edition is not signed. Those are the principle differences.
According to my Sandglass, Macy had originally wanted Szyk to do the illustrations for the Arabian Nights, but Szyk was too busy with other work–especially propaganda for the war, and felt he couldn’t do it, so Angelo illustrated the complete tales. When Szyk had a heart attack in 1945 and told Macy he wanted to do the Arabian Nights, Macy decided to commission him to do the most popular tales, and include Taylor’s notes in addition to some of Burton’s. It was a race against time and Szyk died before the book was published. It was a hugely expensive undertaking because of the elaborate printing required for the illustrations and the Heritage reprint was essential to recoup the costs.
The Heritage reprint here reproduces the Angelo LEC page by page through lithography. Unfortunately, the Sandglass omits any further production details! I can ramble about the board design or the reasoning for the thin paper, but I’ll refrain and let the Sandglass do that for me.
Title Page – Burton’s “plain and literal” translation was a big deal for a long time, perhaps to this day. His annotations are as vital as the tales themselves, according to the Sandglass. Burton’s introduction is also included.
Page 2657 – Angelo’s art works quite well for the Arabian Nights, if I may say so. Both of the in-book illustrations are from the final volume.
Personal Notes – Originally this post came from a library checkout, but thanks to the 50 book haul I made, I snagged up this lovely set for $3 complete. Alas, they are not perfect. They have been opened often and the endpapers are splitting away from the book. Also, the spines feel like they have been sunned and seem flimsy. They have a cushy feeling when you touch them, which suggests that these books may not last for too long without some delicate care. Still, they’re lovely editions, and I’m happy to have them.
Updated 5/29/2012 – JF
January 24, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Journals of the Expedition of Lewis & Clark (1962)
The Journals of the Expedition of Lewis & Clark (1962, 2 volumes)
Sandglass Number 27:iv and 27:v (one for each volume)
Artwork: Watercolors and drawings by Carl Bodmer, George Bird King and other contemporary artists of the period
Introduced by John Bakeless, and edited by Nicholas Biddle
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #336/30th Series V. 9 in 1962
Click images for a larger view.
Front Bindings of Both Volumes – Both volumes utilize a recreation of one of the maps created by the team Lewis & Clark led out into the Western United States. The white boxes are library UPC codes, which I have removed, but I didn’t feel up to attempting a Photoshop to remove them completely. Django2694 chips in what he knows about this book’s history in the two clubs:
The Heritage Lewis and Clark is one of their triumphs, in my opinion. This is not an easy set to find in Fine Condition, and these books usually sell for more than the usually undervalued Heritage Press books of the same vintage. A quick search online shows that the majority of copies in the Good + to Near Fine condition are being offered from around $50 to well over $100.
There’s not much I can add to WildcatJF’s information from my Sandglass pamphlet (Numbers iv & v: 27, as the books were sent in separate months but with the one Sandglass to cover both so “you will have to go without, roll your own, or read this one over again” as the Sandglass author says). The designer was Eugene Ettenberg, who also designed the LEC Beowulf, Reynard the Fox and the two Melville classics, Billy Budd and Benito Cereno.
The illustrations, which are, as the Sandglass says, “super-extra-special,” are culled from the many that the Swiss artist Carl Bodmer did, eighty-one of which were reproduced as engravings from Bodmer’s watercolors in Prince Maximilian’s own book, Travels in the Interior of North America. Prince Maximilian’s work is famous in its own right, and I first read about his own fascinating journey many years ago in Bernard DeVoto’s classic history of the Mountain Men, Across the Wide Missouri. As the Sandglass points out, this tour was no dilettante’s pleasure trip–Maximilian was a trained naturalist and was determined to record as much of the unspoiled New World as he could before it was changed by the already-ongoing westward expansion–for which Lewis & Clark’s Journals were greatly responsible. He hired Bodmer to provide the “Kodak Moments.”
One of the many pleasures of the Heritage edition is the paper, which is wonderful to the touch–“a suede-finish paper made to our specifications by the Meade Paper Company.” The printing was done by The Connnecticut Printers in Hartford, and the illustrations printed by the Meriden Gravure Company (also in Connecticut). The map on the cover is a reproduction of Clark’s own drawing of the route and was printed by The Crafton Graphic Company of NY. The book was bound by the usual suspects, Frank Fortney and the Russell-Rutter Company.
Spines – Volume 1 is on the left, Volume 2 on the right.
Title Page – For this book, the LEC felt that gathering up some of the art done by artists who lived in Lewis and Clark’s time would be most appropriate, so they worked out arrangements to do so. Carl Bodmer was a big hit, it seems, as his work is the most frequently used in the book. His watercolors were made while he was “accompanying Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied on an epochal tour of North America in 1833-1844”, according to the back of Volume 2. “Several Bodmer pieces came from specimens kindly loaned by Harry Shaw Newman of the Old Print Shop, Inc, New York”, it continues on. George Bird King, the second most used artist, did his work around 1837, and “are from the Indian Journals of Lewis Henry Morgan, by arrangement of the publisher, The Univ. of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor,” again from the back of the second volume. The type is Monticello, and the books were designed to look like an explorer’s journal (which I have to say they achieved!). Monticello is based on a parent face by Archibald Binny, who lived in Philadelphia and composed the type in 1789, which became the most popular native typeface in Jefferson’s lifetime, and may explain why it’s named after his villa. Nicholas Biddle edited the journals, and John Bakeless gives an introduction.
Page vii – The first page of the Introduction had a nice illustration, so I felt compelled to share.
Pages 10 – 11 – An example of Bodmer’s work.
Pages 298 – 299 (Volume 2) – And an example of King’s.
Page 16 – 17 – The journal also includes scraps from the explorer’s own journals, which is a nice perk.
Map (end of Volume 1) – The Heritage Press reprinted the exact path of Lewis and Clark, which Clark himself created. It’s a nice four page fold-out, with the trail specifically marked in a thick red line. The original is in the Coe Collection of Western Americiana at Yale University’s library in New Haven.
Personal Notes – I’ve enjoyed looking at these books, but alas, they are not mine. These were also checked out at my local library in Mariposa.
January 6, 2011 § 3 Comments
Lysistrata by Aristophanes (1962)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Pablo Picasso
Translated for the LEC/Heritage Press by Gilbert Seldes, who also introduces the book.
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #57/5th Series V. 9 in 1934
Click images for a larger size.
Front Binding – Aristophanes is one of the few playwrights from the Ancient Greek era whose works made it to modern times, and in 1934 George Macy gave his most famous play some exquisite treatment. However, before digging into this book, let’s briefly cover the other plays the LEC issued featuring the works of the comedic genius. In 1937, while the iron was still warm from this book, The Frogs was issued featuring the artistic designs of John Austen. This is perhaps the most distinct work Austen performed out of his many commissions, but we’ll have to wait to see that one. In 1959 The Birds came to the membership, featuring Mariam Perry’s decorations.
All right, back to this edition. Designed by Macy himself, these boards are textured with a granite-like look with some of Pablo Picasso’s soldier sketches, which make for a striking book. Yes, you did read that right — for one book, the Limited Editions Club got the now-legendary Picasso to provide its illustrations, and I think he did a great job with the comedic Lysistrata. The LEC version goes for big bucks, since Picasso signed it; 150 of those 1500 books also got a complete set of signed sketches, which gives this book even more monetary worth. I don’t have the signed ones, but I’ve included two of those particular items that the book reprints below.
“It required a great screwing-up of courage on my part”, Macy admitted.”It also required much cash, much manipulation, much pulling of strings, and a great deal of heartache and headache in getting the work out of him after we had agreed to do it. He is a charming person to talk with, a horrifyingly difficult person to do business with. It is probable that only the fact that we suggested a book he liked caused him to agree to undertake the commission.”
“When I first got in touch with Picasso in Paris, he said he was willing to illustrate the book for a very stiff price. I agreed. I was in Paris again when Picasso had finished the plates, and I sought to take them from his apartment. But he insisted on treating the transaction on a no-trust basis: He made me hand him the actual cash with my left hand while he handed me the plates with his left hand.”
Django6924 elaborates more on the LEC edition:
Macy chose the type, Caslon, in 18 point size, and specified black for the the text with the drawing reproduced in sanguine.
In the Monthly Letter for the LEC edition, Number 61, June 1934, there is a paragraph on the paper–one of those elaborations which make the LEC/Heritage Club such a pleasure to collect (and which I wish the Folio Society would emulate)–which is worth quoting as it reveals the pleasure taken in the Art of book production:
“The type is printed on a paper imported from France. It is made on moulds at the Rives paper mills, and is called Valfrey. It is made completely of rags, and has a warm deep tone in its color. (DJANGO’S NOTE: In a different Monthly Letter, it is mentioned that the Rives company obtains most of its rags from discarded cotton underwear–a perhaps irrelevant point, but in light of the subject matter of this particular book, it seems drolly apropos.) Across the surface, the devilishly clever French have managed to place a pleasant glaze which is the despair of American makers of machine papers.”
The six etchings which Picasso did for the edition were printed by hand, by Charles Furth of New York–who also printed the Ruth Reeves etchings in the LEC Daphnis and Chloe. The binding was of heavy boards covered with a three color patterned paper with a design made by LeRoy Appleton from the Picasso drawings, and the book itself housed in a double, or chemise slipcase.
Whereas the Sandglass* spends a fair amount of time talking about Picasso’s achievements during his life–the “Guernica” which has just been returned to Spain by MOMA, following Picasso’s wishes with the end of the Franco regime, and Picasso’s famous UN Peace dove–the Monthly Letter spends half of its four pages selling the subscriber on how he should not be outraged by Modern Art in general, Picasso’s work in particular, and that the Lysistrata illustrations are not only great illustrations, but “will continue to bring you pleasure and joy long after you have tired of looking at the pretty-pretty, stiff and formal pictures in many of our own books.” (I wonder if he wasn’t thinking of John Austen’s illustrations when he made this criticism–a frequent and very popular LEC illustrator whose illustrations are perfectly described as “pretty-pretty, stiff and formal”?) Macy was quite aware that Picasso, though even then recognized as probably the pre-eminent living artist, was also widely hated by many conservative Americans, including a large percentage of LEC subscribers. He was right–in the section of the Monthly Letter called “Files on Parade,” where he prints comments received from Club members, he prints several diatribes by members who were outraged by Lysistrata–which most critics agree now is one of the half-dozen greatest achievements of the LEC.
I’d love to see the LEC Lysistrata one day. Thanks to both of you for your insights!
Spine – Trumpeting Picasso’s involvement was a wise choice! The slipcase is black.
Title Page – The LEC commissioned Gilbert Seldes to compose a new translation for them, which the Heritage Press reprints. Seldes also provides the introduction.
Page 43 – The first of Picasso’s separated sketches is when the women of Greece unite to discuss the war and how to resolve it.
Page 111 – After the women devise their plan to deprive their men of sexual pleasure, the war quickly grinds to a halt and peace is made, as this sketch shows. The next image is the text prior to this sketch, which shows more of Picasso’s art done in a simpler style.
Personal Notes – I picked this up at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, quite ecstatic about getting it, too. It lacked a Sandglass, and at this time I was in a pretty fervent “not complete, no buy!” frame of mind (which I still am, for the most part — at least when it comes to buying copies at $10+!), but it was Lysistrata! I love this play, and I love these books, and adding in Pablo Picasso’s interpretation of Aristophanes’ cast, and I was deadset on making a purchase. While I enjoyed the Picasso side of things, I found Seldes’ translation to be a little too dry. This is a bawdy, sexy piece of theater, and Seldes for the most part strips it out (luckily, Picasso did not shy away). Since I originally wrote this post, I sold it off. I liked the art but not the translation, and for now I’m fine with that. If the LEC magically were to fall into my lap, well, I wouldn’t turn it down…
*= Django had a Sandglass for the Norwalk printing, which is not as reliable as ones printed in the Macy Company hands. Its number is also different. I’ll be changing the info on this post in the near future, as I now have a New York Sandglass.
December 14, 2010 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw (1962)
LEC #334/30th Series V. 7 in 1962
Artwork: Paintings and sketches by Charles Mozley
Introduced by Lewis Casson, and features Shaw’s own Preface to the play. A supplementary booklet, also by Shaw, the “Revolutionist’s Handbook & Pocket Companion“, is included.
#403 out of 1500
Click images to see larger views.
Binding, slipcase and bonus booklet – Man and Superman is one of George Bernard Shaw’s more notable plays, and the Limited Editions Club rendered it in a most glorious fashion with this book. On top of the lavish tome of the play, this edition came with a copy of character John “Jack” Tanner’s Revolutionist’s Handbook & Pocket Companion, which had its own special slot in the slipcase to be stored. Unfortunately, my copy has seen its fair share of sun. The front and back covers are identical, and is graced with Charles Mozley’s excellent artwork.
Shaw’s publishing history with the George Macy Company began back in 1939 with the LEC exclusive Back to Methuselah, featuring John Farleigh’s artistic talent. Shaw was still alive then, making it one of the weird instances the LEC issued a work from a contemporary author. Farleigh has been featured on this blog since since this post originally appeared: the lovely Prometheus Bound/Unbound and the Heritage Histories of Shakespeare. For some reason, following Methuselah, the George Macy Company — under George Macy — did not issue a second Shaw production. It would fall onto Helen Macy, his widow, to return to the legendary playwright once more with Man and Superman. Mrs. Macy would release a third Shaw in her tenure, Two Plays for Puritians, which stars The Devil’s Disciple and Caesar and Cleopatra, colored with the bright illustrations of George Him. Cardevon Press would release the fourth and final Shaw title, a combination of Pygmalion and Candida, with Clarke Hutton doing the visual honors, in 1974.
This was Charles Mozley’s first LEC, and would go on to render The Man of Property by John Galsworthy, H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man and Alexander Pushkin’s The Captain’s Daughter and Other Stories for the LEC. Very talented fellow, although a bit pugnacious, from what I’ve heard.
Here’s the announcement letter with all the details on the book’s production:
Title Page – This is Ann Whitefield and John Tanner in the front, the two leads. Lewis Casson wrote the introduction. The book also includes Shaw’s original preface of the book, which was a letter written to his critic Arthur Bingham Walkley regarding the reasoning behind Man and Superman’s existence (a question Walkley proposed to Shaw well before Shaw’s execution of this play, which was “why haven’t you written a play about Don Juan?”), He pretty much tears Walkley apart with his superb wit.
Colophon – My copy is #403 out of 1500 (the same number as several of my books, which I bought at the same shop), and is signed and numbered by Charles Mozley. Well, I’m assuming he numbered it judging by the two sharing the same color of ink, but I may be wrong. This picture is a little light, which is my error.
Examples of the Illustrations by Mozley (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This was my very first Limited Editions Club book, purchased at Bookhaven in Monterey, CA. I just finished reading it two days before the first edit of this post, and it’s an fantastically written play. I think Mozley’s illustrations made the experience even more pronounced. I consider this to be one of my favorites, both in drama and in terms of my collection. I’d like to get the other three LEC’s of Shaw’s work, so those are on the top of my To-Get list.
Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Updated 8/6/2014 – JF