On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1963)
Sandglass Number XIV:27
Artwork: Engravings by Paul Landacre
Introduced by Charles Galton Darwin
Reprint of LEC #346, 31st Series, V. 7, in 1963.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Science books were not high on the priority list for the Limited Editions Club: fiction, biographies/autobiographies, histories, philosophy, poetry, drama and folklore were very dominant genres for the club, and only a scant number of science titles were published. Charles Darwin was the most popular author of the genre for the club, with three books to his name: Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (1956, with Robert Gibbings performing the artistic honors), On the Origin of Species (1963, starring Paul Landacre, who I will discuss below), and The Descent of Man (1971, featuring the ever-versatile Fritz Kredel). All of these are also Heritage offerings. We will be focusing on the middle choice of these today. I will note here that the latter is a lovely LEC edition I want to own, but it slipped from my grasp in Monterey. *sigh*
Anyway, Darwin’s scientific observations were supplemented by the LEC (and subsequent Heritage reprint) with Paul Landacre’s woodcuts throughout the text. Landacre performed artistic duties for three LEC titles: Ambrose Bierce’s Tales of Soldiers and Civilians in 1943 (Heritage available), On the Nature of Things by Titus Lucretius Carus in 1957 (Heritage available, too!), and this book, which was his final commission. This is a lovely one, indeed. Landacre was the right man for this book, methinks, as he did a splendid job rendering tons of animal, cellular and plant engravings for it. The LEC edition was issued unsigned as Landacre passed away in June 1963, likely before the book was issued (the Sandglass does not observe his passing, and even makes a joke about Landacre’s tendency to illustrate books with “On” as its first word and “reserves” him for future works of such a nature…this tells me that this is likely a first issuing of the HP).
Design Notes – Douglas A. Dunstan served as the book’s designer. We last saw his work for Cook’s Journals, and he once more does a spectacular job on making this a lovely looking book. Baskerville g is the font of choice, with a focus of “white space” done for effect. Connecticut Printers handled the printing job, applying the text to Crocker-Burbank paper. Frank Fortney and Russell Rutter, as usual, performed the bindery work. It’s a three-piece: tough leather on the spine stamped with gold leaf, and the boards were covered with Fabriano paper from Italy and embossed with one of Landacre’s images from the title page.
Title Page – Darwin’s grandson Charles Galton Darwin provided an introduction, but he too died before the issuing of the LEC (tragedy seems to be tied to this book!). The Sandglass below covers his life, as well as plenty on his grandfather!
Examples of the Illustrations by Landacre (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This is yet another book I received from my 50 book lot from the Oakhurst Library. It’s a gem, without question. I’m not sure how the LEC compares, but the Heritage is a high point in the 60s period of the club in my opinion.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):