Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen (1965)

Limited Editions Club

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964
Artwork: Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner

#144 of 1500. Heritage edition detailed below.

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Front Binding – Hello again, dear readers. It’s been almost a half year since we last had a book post pop up here at the blog, and over those six months my life has continued to change. I needed to get away for a bit to mature and rediscover myself, and I think I’m finally at a good point to pick up this project once again and discuss these lovely books. So I hope you can excuse me revising an old post as my return so I can get this back under my belt again. Thankfully it’s a nice edition from the Helen Macy period; Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen! This set features three of his biggest works: the biggies Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck leap to the forefront, although An Enemy of the People is also a classic. The Limited Editions Club previously published Peer Gynt in 1955 for the LEC and 1957 for the Heritage Press.

Artistically Fredrik Matheson was recruited to do woodcuts for this edition, and they are quite lovely. This was his only commission, but it’s a memorable one! The LEC features more colors in its prints than the Heritage; a common trend in Helen Macy’s period.

Design Notes – Matheson was responsible for the design along with Arnstein and Agnar Kirste, owners of the Kirstes Boktrykkeri (aka bookprintery, as the Sandglass defines it) of Oslo, Norway, where the book was printed and bound. The text is Garamond. Beyond this, I can’t get into any more specifics due to no LEC letter either in my book or from my fellow collectors. Once one turns up I’ll update this.



Title Page – The title page fails to mention the translators/editor of this set. An Enemy of the People was rendered into English by Eleanor Marx-Aveling, the daughter of Communist Manifesto author Karl Marx. William Archer, the editor of this book, collaborated on Hedda Gabler‘s translation with Edmond Gosse, and Archer’s wife Florence Elizabeth Archer did the honors for The Wild Duck. John Gassner, who is credited here, offers up an Introduction.

Colophon – Matheson signed this copy, and this is #144 out of 1500.

Examples of the Illustrations by Matheson – I’m skipping the Gallery to make the comparisons easier to see.

Page 2

Page 7 – I really like Matheson’s artwork. His larger prints are full color wood engravings (with each color being a different block, which blows the mind if you begin to think about the craft of such precision on multiple blocks), while the smaller ones are mere monochrome (but still special!).  This would be his sole work for the George Macy Company, but he certainly left his mark. The colors are more dynamic in the LEC in contrast to the Heritage; notice the reds and peach tones.

Page 59 – This one, meanwhile, had a lot of blues the Heritage lacks.

Personal Notes – I purchased this at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, CA when I was last there, alongside the Quarto-Millenary. I essentially got it from free. :) It’s nice to have this back; as I note below in the original post, I lost my Heritage copy to water damage, and now I have the more luxurious LEC to replace it.

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
Sandglass Number XV:29
Artwork – Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner
Reprint of LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964

Front Binding – Unfortunately, the first thing that probably leaps to the eye is the staining the bottom of the binding features — I’m not sure if it was coffee or some other tannish liquid, but considering I got this book for free, I did not complain too much. However, a second mishap splashed water over several of my incomplete tomes, and this received additional damage while I attempted to dry it off.

Design Notes – The Heritage was printed by Kellogg and Bulkeley in Hartford, Connecticut on paper from the Cumberland Mills of Maine, which are owned by the S.D. Warren Company of Boston. The Russell-Rutter Company performed bindery duties, and the boards have a pattern paper meant to resemble a curtain, appropriate for Ibsen, legend of theater.

Title Page – The same as the LEC minus the red.

Page 7 – As you can see, this is less colorful than the LEC, but still nice. The Sandglass gets deep into Matheson’s art career on Page 4.

Page 17

Page 61

Personal Notes – I was sad to see this one go. I got this as a gift from my anthropology instructor, who salvaged it from somewhere. Thankfully I now have the LEC!


Heritage Press (Connecticut) – The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1965)

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1965, Connecticut)
Sandglass Number XIII – R: 45
Artwork: Illustrated by Fletcher Martin
Includes a brief preface by Upton Sinclair
Reprint of LEC #373, 33rd Series, V. 11 in 1965.

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Front Binding – Today brings one of the more influential literary works of the 20th century: The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. Sinclair’s scathing novel decried the poor conditions of the working class employed in Chicago’s meat-packing factories. Curiously, however, the disgusting revelations of how atrocious the meat production process actually was — the poisoned and diseased animals, as well as the unfortunate men that made the fatal mistake of becoming a part of the product they were paid to make — was not Sinclair’s actual intention of the novel. As the Sandglass notes, Sinclair was actually trying to make a case for socialism and a critique against the terrible wages of the workers. Sinclair wryly notes that he “‘aimed at the public’s heart and hit it in the stomach'” — but the overhauling of the meat industry was a positive in the end, and Sinclair continued his pleas in his other novels, essays and writings. Sinclair only had one LEC issued, but he does have the notable distinction of being one of the only authors to sign a LEC, joining the ranks of James Joyce, Robert Frost, Edgar Lee Masters, Van Wyck Brooks, and Wendell Willkie during the Macy’s tenure. Cardevon Press and Sidney Shiff had their fair share of author-signed volumes, including Ray Bradbury (twice!), Thornton Wilder, Isaac Bashevis Singer (twice!), Malcolm Cowley, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, John Hersey (who also signed The Kingdom of this World), Robert Penn Warren (who also signed Hersey’s Hiroshima), Czeslaw Milosz, Arthur Miller, Gunter Grass, Octavio Paz, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Mitchell, Margaret Walker, Heinrich Harrer (twice!), Maya Angelou (twice!; she also signed Sunrise is Coming After While), Leopold Sedar Senghor, and John Ashbery. Shiff in particular was aggressive in publishing more modern works and recruiting their authors to sign his editions; most of this list is from his time as head of the LEC.

Whew! With that tangent over, let’s talk about this book’s illustrator, Fletcher Martin. Martin hasn’t been a stranger to the blog, with Tales from the Gold Rush appearing a few years ago. His career with Macy is detailed in that post. Martin is a good fit for The Jungle, if I may say so. His style seems to enhance the plights of the poor and downtrodden, of which Sinclair’s characters must certainly are. Here he uses both line drawings (33 in all) and several colored pen drawings.

Design-wise, John B. Goetz served as the designer of this book. I presume the LEC has the same designer. The main font is Monotype Scotch, with headings and page numbers set in Masterman. Printing was tackled by the Holyoke Lithographing Company on a paper supplied by the Warren Mill of Westbrook, Maine. The binding is quickly glossed over, with the Sandglass quipping only about its “assured longevity” and “effective simplicity”. The original Heritage reprint had a nice leather binding in contrast to this Connecticut reissue.




Spine – Mine is rather faded.


Title Page – Sinclair himself steps in to introduce his novel; this is uncommon. The Sandglass argues who better to discuss The Jungle than its creator?

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

Personal Notes – I got this from my big haul from the Oakhurst Library. I’d like to have the LEC, naturally, but I’d be happy to upgrade this one to at least the Macy-issued Heritage over this. But for now, I’m keeping it until I replace it!

Sandglass forthcoming!

Heritage Press: Billy Budd and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville (1965)

Billy Budd and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville (1965)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Paintings by Robert Shore
Introduced by Maxwell Geismar
Reprint of LEC #367/33rd Series V. 5 in 1965

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Front Binding – For this printing of Herman Melville’s legendary short stories of the sea, the Heritage Press utilized the two-cloth method of binding, in this case black and white, with the titles the reverse on the spine (see below).  Effective choice, but I don’t know who came up with it or any other publishing info due to a lack of Sandglass.

Melville would see four of his works produced by the Limited Editions Club – Typee to begin in 1935, with Miguel Covarrubias doing the artistic honors, followed by the 2-volume Moby Dick in 1943, featuring Boardman Robinson’s talent.  Helen Macy would pick up the Melville bug for two more books during her tenure, with Omoo arriving in 1961 with art from Reynolds Stone, and then this one, done in 1965.  Speaking from my experience, Melville is one of the trickier authors to track down Macy books for – I’ve only seen this and Moby Dick once, respectively.

Robert Shore started his LEC career when Melville concluded his – Helen and Jonathan Macy and Cardevon would require his services for another four LEC books, including Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in 1969, From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon by Jules Verne in 1970 (a lovely book), a collection of Conrad’s stories Youth, Typhoon and The End of the Tether in 1972, and his last, another Conrad, An Outcast from the Islands, in 1975.  All but the latter have Heritage reprints it would seem.  Shore’s style is pretty distinctive, and it’s one I do enjoy.

Slipcase – Bold red against the black and white.


Title Page – Rather barren, isn’t it?  Shore’s work was saved for the interior.  Maxwell Geismar offers his thoughts as an introduction.

Billy Budd Introduction – Both stories have a nice page introducing them like this example from Billy Budd.

Page 8 – Shore has a knack for seascapes – may be why he did so many for the LEC!  Most are two-page spreads, but there’s a couple of single page paintings, as well.

Page 32

Page 156

Personal Notes – I purchased this in Flagstaff, Arizona for $15 or so.  I failed to realize it lacked a Sandglass – probably because this was my second choice, but my friend bought the first after I showed it to her. XD  Ah well.  Still a nice book.

If you have a LEC of this book or a Sandglass for the Heritage New York printing, 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!

Heritage Press: The Poems of Robert Burns (1965)

Poems of  Robert Burns (1965)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Joan Hassall
Selected and introduced by DeLancey Ferguson
Part of the Heritage Press’ British Poet Master series (my designation)
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #368/33rd Series V. 6 in 1965

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – This is the third British (Isles) Poet Master we’ve seen from the Heritage Press on the blog thus far – Ireland’s W.B. Yates and England’s Shakespeare predated the Scottish legend Burns, and there’s more to go!  For this volume, the Club hired wood engraver Joan Hassall to decorate the book’s poems, and she’s a great choice, as we’ll soon see.  Here we again see the repeating board motif the other two featured.  I’d wager the same designer was responsible for this, but I’ll refrain from stating that until I know for sure.

Spine – The similar spine design for these books continues on.

Title Page – DeLancey Ferguson was this book’s editor, who also wrote an introduction.  Hassall only did this one book for the Company – a shame, as she did a most astounding job, if I may say so.

Page 1 (close-up of the engraving) – As you may gather from “The Twa Dogs”, Burns utilized Scottish pronunciation in his poetical works, making them a little tough to read if you don’t have that accent flowing in your mind.

Page 168 – A taste of the page layout.  Hassall did not provide any full-page illustrations – all are nicely mixed in with the lines of poetry.

Personal Notes – I like this series, yet have rarely seen any in great condition.  I’ll be on the lookout for them, though.  As for Burns, he’s an interesting poet, but I think if I do read him it’ll be done aloud, else my brain will likely not want to work at piecing out what he wrote.

Any help or insights into the creation of this book would be lovely.  Please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Heritage Press: The Bhagavad Gita – The Song Celestial (1965)

The Bhagavad Gita, or the Song Celestial (1965)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: Paintings by Y.G. Srimati
Translated from the Sanskrit by Sir Edwin Arnold into English Verse, Introduced by Shri Sri Prakasa
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #369/33th Series V. 7 in 1965

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – A pretty Indian pattern decorates the top and bottom of both boards and the spine on a bright yellow cloth.  I could use some help on designer credit!

Title Page – Sir Edwin Arnold performed translation duties, converting the Sanskrit original into English verse.  This edition reprints the Sanskrit text on the left, and the translation on the right.  Shri Sri Prakasa provides an introduction.  Y.G. Srimati did 15 paintings for this book, which fit in quite nicely.  She would also contribute to the LEC/Heritage Panchatantra that was issued in 1972.

Page 5 – Srimati’s style is perfect for this important Hindu text, and she gave notes on each of her paintings in the back of the book.  I’ll provide those for the three illustrations I’m highlighting.

Arjuna’s Grief

Confronted with the prospect of slaying his own kith and kin, his own preceptors and elders, and his own mates and companions, Arjuna is overcome by feelings of horror and revulsion.  As he slips down to the floor of the chariot, and the bow and arrow fall from his trembling hands, he cries out to Krishna that it is impossible for him to wage this war against his own folk. The storm clouds gathering in the sky are symbolic of the storm raging in Arjuna’s breast.  The cloud-hued Krishna looks on with kindly amusement.

Page 13

Krishna’s Counsel to Arjuna

The Lord in His supreme wisdom and understanding comforts Arjuna by illuminating his disturbed mind with words of advice, enjoining the path of action in accordance with the duty expected of him – hence the transcendental expression on Krishna’s face and the complete surrender in Arjuna’s attitude.  Intentionally the picture shows only the two protagonists of The Song Celestial, Nara (Arjuna) and Narayana (Vishnu, or Krishna), for in the sublimity of this concourse all else is of little account.  In the border may be noted the ॐ (OM) symbolising the Lord in the form of a sound, the white lotus symbolising the idea of learning, purity, creativity, and blossoming, and the rising sun which suggests the awakening of wisdom and the understanding of reality in the mind of Arjuna.

Page 37

The Yoga of Meditation

The yogi is one who with subdued mind practises concentration on the spirit.  He selects a secret, clean, secluded place on the banks of a sacred river, firmly fixes his wooden seat, neither too high or too low, spreads over it sacred grass, then a deer skin, and then a cloth, and, assuming the yogi pose, restrains his thoughts and senses to bring his mind to a point.  The metaphor of the yogi as a lamp in a place sheltered from the wind, so that it does not flicker, is depicted by the steady flame of the lamp in the niche of thje hermitage.  The yogi and the lamp also provide the border motif.

Personal Notes – I know very little about Hinduism and its classics, but I found this book to be an outstanding work.  Perhaps I’ll read it, if I can ever find it beyond my library. Religious texts are among the hardest Heritage Press books for me to uncover.

Any help or insights into the creation of this book would be lovely.  Please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!