Heritage Press – Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (1970, Connecticut)

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (1970, Connecticut)
Sandglass Number XI:39
Artwork: Illustrations by Grant Wood
Introduced by the author
Reprint of LEC #89, 8th Series, V. 7 in 1937.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – Sinclair Lewis has made an appearance on our blog before, but not as the author of a Limited Editions Club work! Main Street was the sole offering of Lewis offered by the Club, and it would take over 35 years for the Heritage Press to reprint its contents. Lewis was also involved in Macy’s third publishing arm The Reader’s Club as one of its judges, selecting and writing introductions for the Club’s brief run in the 1940’s. Main Street is probably his best known novel, so it was an apt choice way back when to select it!

The name Grant Wood may not immediately ring any bells. It’s a fairly common sounding name. However, this Grant Wood is exceptionally well known. You may recognize this painting:

This artistic classic, American Gothic, is by Grant Wood, the very painter recruited to illustrate Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street for the Limited Editions Club back in 1937. It’s a marvelous pairing of author and artist, that it most certainly is. Wood would not rejoin the LEC for any further commissions, but he did do a splendid job on this one! Django6294 chipped in this tidbit on the Wood/Macy relationship:

Incidentally, Jerry, that he didn’t do more than one commission for Macy wasn’t due to lack of enthusiasm on either side: Macy was effusive in praise of the illustrations and Wood had received a very generous price for this work, winning an LEC Prize for Illustration which came with a commission to illustrate one of the Club’s books (other winners were Thomas Benton and Reginald Marsh). But Wood was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer soon after the book was published, and died within 3 years, just short of his 50th birthday.

The LEC was designed by William A. Kittredge of the Lakeside Press in Chicago. The Lakeside Press is best remembered for its exceptional Moby Dick, illustrated by Rockwell Kent. They did their own fair share of classic printing themselves. I had a Walden from them briefly that I traded in for the LEC Twenty Years After. It was a really nice book, but I don’t have any room to start collecting EVERY well-made book made earlier this century. :p Anyway! It was Kittredge who decided to print the text and artwork on tan colored paper over the usual white, and that carried over to the Heritage printing. Caslon is the font of choice, and font fans will want to pour over the Sandglass, as it goes into its history in detail. For the Heritage edition, Tapley-Rutter served as its binder, and it was reprinted by the Connecticut Printers. The cover, resembling denim, is enhanced by pryoxylin to give it extra strength. The LEC original was chosen as one of the 200 books of its decade selected for Outstanding Design by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, one of seven total from the LEC! So you’ve got a treat waiting for you if you find either edition!


Title Page – Here’s a taste of the tan paper. Lewis introduced his own work.

Page 42 – Wood is a fine choice, doing some exceptional portrait work for the main characters. Stunning stuff.

Page 82

Personal Notes – I got this with my 70+ book haul from the Oakhurst Library, and I’m tickled to have it. I’ve not seen hide nor hair of this book anywhere else, so I’m delighted to have it in my library.

I suppose I should explain this book haul a little better, because I’ve said 50 book haul before. This was a two-part acquiring. The first half was when I went to the library itself to see what my friend John had in store for me, which exceeded my wildest dreams. Someone donated 70+ books, and all of them were Heritage Press books. It was mindblowing to realize that I had the chance of doubling my library! As I went through them all, I plucked key books that I knew I would have difficulty finding elsewhere, and I believe Main Street was among those. I gathered up about 20 books or so. John told me to take those (for free!), and he would talk to the higher-ups about the rest of the lot. I was stunned to walk away with a plethora of Heritage books for free, but I didn’t argue! A month later John called me to say that the manager of the library sales told him to sell the remainder of the books (50, magically) for $50 as a lot if I wanted them. I DID, so I managed to scrounge up the cash and made my way to John’s residence, where he was storing the books. It was a somewhat dangerous drive to his house, as the weather took a nosedive into hailing and occasional snow. His road is a dirt road of the bouncy, undergrated sort. I managed to get there safely and pick up the rest of the lot, handed him the fifty dollars and, with mild regret to not spend any time with him, hurried back home. So, that’s the story of my massive Heritage haul, and why I say 50 books sometimes. It truly was more like 70 or 80. And I STILL WANT MORE. What a curse. XD


Heritage Press – The Odyssey by Homer (1970, Connecticut)

The Odyssey by Homer (1970, Connecticut)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Classical Designs by John Flaxman
Translated by Alexander Pope
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC did their own Odyssey in 1930, designed by Jan van Krimpen, and later Sidney Shiff produced his LEC Odyssey in 1981 featuring woodcuts by Barry Moser.

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – This will be a relatively short post, since it’s A) a library copy and B) a Connecticut-era reprint, and it’s a companion to the Heritage Iliad.  It features the same design philosophy, the same translator (Alexander Pope) and the same artist (John Flaxman).  So I don’t think I can really comment much more than I did with the Iliad.  This is a nice shade of blue in contrast to the Iliad red.


Title Page – Flaxman’s work is still nice!

Page 6 – I’ll be more than happy to compare these to the New York printing when I can, but I can say that the quality isn’t shabby at all.

Page 14

Personal Notes – Checked out from the library…although I wouldn’t mind owning them.

If you have 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 – Russian Folk Tales (1970)

This post is the first I’ve done from the Connecticut period of the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press.  After the death of George Macy in 1956, his wife Helen operated the two presses until 1968, when George’s son Jonathan took the reins for two years.  The company was then sold to the Boise Cascade Corporation, who then sold it to Ziff-Davis, who then sold it to Cardavon Press.  The Heritage Press and its Club were later sold separately to the Danbury Mint, who happens to own the Easton Press.  Easton continues to reprint Heritage Press works under their own banner.  The Limited Editions Club, meanwhile, was sold to Sidney Shiff in 1978, who by the late 1980’s had transitioned the Club into a Livres d’Artiste-style of publishing house, severely limiting the amount of books available and getting some of today’s premiere fine artists to illustrate the books, sending their monetary values through the roof.  Shiff passed away in 2010, and his widow Jeanne currently is running the company.  There you go – a very brief history of the George Macy Company post-George Macy.  A more thorough history can be found at Bill Majure’s site here.  At any rate, under these various guises the Heritage Press in the 1970’s began to reprint several of the earlier Heritage Press books in new bindings for their newer customers, but more often than not the reprint quality was not up to the excellence George Macy and his family had set during their tenure.  It is a rare occurrence indeed for a Connecticut-era HP book to exceed (or even match) the earlier New York runs.  It’s that reason that most collectors skip over the Connecticut books whenever possible.  However, the Limited Editions Club, despite changing hands several times during the ’70’s, managed to continue putting out some solid books, and the Heritage reprints of those tend to be more favorable.  This particular book, a collection of Russian Folk Tales, falls under that banner.  As part of my duty here at the blog, I will put up Connecticut editions of prior Heritage Press books as I am able to check them out – I do not wish to expend my personal funds into amassing doubles or inferior copies.  I will buy Connecticut-era books that were made in that period, though, as there is no other substitute.  That being said, let’s begin our Russian Folk Tales post proper.

Russian Folk Tales (1970)
Sandglass Number X:37
Artwork: Watercolors by Teje Etchemendy
Introduced, Selected and Edited by Albert B. Lord
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #432/38th Series, V. 10 in 1970

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – This lovely collection of Russian Folk Tales (hence the name) has been designed by Adrian Wilson.  Stationed in California, Wilson also spent his time digging up fascinating books from the past – the Sandglass mentions his uncovering one of Germany’s earliest printed book’s layouts for The Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493, and the manuscript copy of St. Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, dating back to 1467, in Italy.  Makes sense that he was the author of The Design of Books.  The Sandglass is quite remiss in detailing out the making of the binding, merely stating that “in the festive design of the binding you will observe that the snowflakes…have reappeared – but vertically, this time, as Nature intended!”  Still, despite the lack of information, I find this to be a great book worthy of the Heritage Press name.


Title Page – Albert B. Lord was Harvard’s Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature when this book was published, and seems to be a most excellent choice for this book’s direction.  The Sandglass goes on about him in detail if you’d like to know more about him (see page 3).  He also provides the introduction for the book.  Teje Etchemendy is responsible for this book being published – her pluckiness to send the George Macy Company samples of her work and asking to illustrate such a book prompted the Clubs to get Dr. Lord and Adrian Wilson on board to support her.  Her watercolors are spectacular, as you will see shortly.  She provided twelve full-color paintings and twenty-five line drawings to pad the text, and I think she was a splendid match.  This alas was her only work for the George Macy Company that I’m aware of, but it’s a highlight of the later period of the Club’s life.  Let’s wrap up this section with a brief overview of the publishing history – Wilson chose Palatino, designed by the German Hermann Zapf, to represent the main body of the book’s text.  He used Sapphire Festival for the page numbers and the title – this was also designed by Mr. Zapf.  Printing and composition of the text took place at The Connecticut Printers in Bloomfield, CT, and was printed on creme-white wove stock supplied by the Mohawk Mill in Cohoes, NY to the Press’ specifications.  The Sandglass does not specify who bound the book.

Page 16 – An example of Etchemendy’s line work.  Good stuff, but her watercolors are even better.

Page 29 – Gorgeous.  Her use of color is breathtaking, and it has a great Russian feel, too.  I love this book’s art.

Page 44 – I adore this painting.  It’s so perfect.

Personal Notes – I acquired this from my volunteering at my now-current bookselling appointment in my old (and soon to be current, next spring!) college town.  Again, I’m a little dumbstruck with how many Heritage books I’ve picked up from helping used bookstores out.  Won’t complain, though!  I haven’t read this yet, but I am thrilled about having it.  I wonder how the LEC compares….

Just as a sidenote – I refer to Etchemendy sending The George Macy Company prints to get this book going – it’s a bold assumption that I feel is correct, as it usually took the Club a year or two to properly plan out a book, and it would have been in Helen or Jonathan Macy’s hands at that point.  I don’t think the Cardavon Press, who ended up printing the book, had a whole lot to do with it beyond executing the plans set into motion earlier.  Could be wrong, though…I really have no clue either way.


Heritage Press: The Poems of W.B. Yeats (1970)

The Poems of W.B. Yeats (1970)
Unknown Volume Number (I lack a Sandglass for this one – help would be appreciated!)
Artwork: Drawings by Robin Jacques
Selected, Edited, and with an Introduction by William York Tindall

Part of the LEC/Heritage Press British Poet Masters series (my own designation)
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC # 425 /38th Series V. 3 in 1970

Click images to see larger versions.

Front Binding – Graced with a trio of drawings of two swans surrounded by roses on both sides. This is a former library copy, which you will notice library stamps and numbering on the later pictures. I sold it off a while ago and hope to reacquire a nicer copy. I did not have a Sandglass for this, so the book’s designer is unknown to me.  If you have that info, please let me know.

W.B. Yeats is one of Ireland’s premiere poets (if not the premiere poet), and the Limited Editions Club gave him his due in two editions, this and a collection of Irish Folk Tales he edited and introduced, which was printed in 1973.

Spine – An atrocious white-out blotch on the spine showcases it was a library book at one time.

Title Page – Jacques’ illustrations are pretty incredible. He only did two books for the LEC, this and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, which preceded this by eight years. He was a fairly prominent book illustrator in the ’60’s and ’70’s. I’ve seen his work in a few other books in the bookshops I’ve worked at. Anyway, this particular copy originally belonged to a family named the Sampsons, who donated it among many others to the Livingston, California Library after the owner’s death. Well, that’s what I gather from the library stamp. I’ve had The Poems of Shakespeare and The Poems of Robert Browning in my collection, as well as spotting a few others in my library check-outs.

Page 24

Page 95

The lighting was not in my favor the day I took these, but I no longer have the book.  I’ll update these when I reacquire it.

Personal Notes – This, The Poems of Shakespeare and The Poems of Robert Browning all ended up landing at a college anthropology club book sale while I was a member. I paid $1 each for them (and got two for free, The Song of Roland and Henrik Ibsen’s Three Plays), so it was a fairly good haul, despite the library markings. I gave the Browning book to a dear friend of mine who gave me a different Browning Heritage Press book, The Ring and the Book. I would love to have a copy that is not an ex-library copy. I find this book to be quite enchanting, and Jacques’ art is quite insane and awesome. I sold it off to aid in my purchasing of The Shaving of Shagpat.

Django6924 chips in this information on the LEC version of the book:

The LEC edition was the third volume in the 38th Series, which ran from January 1970 to April 1971. The edition was designed by John Dreyfus and printed at The Thistle Press. The full page B&W drawings by Jacques were hand-colored in the studios of Walter Fischer (and are lovely), and the book is bound in quarter green morocco leather and green linen boards. A black oval embossed portrait (in what appears to be leather) of Yeats on the front cover is the only decoration on the binding. (I must say, I wish instead of the portrait they had embossed the drawing of the wild swans at Coole that the Heritage book used–frankly Yeats would not have approved the likeness of him.)

I am seeking some info for this book – namely, the designer of it and the Sandglass volume number.  If you have that info, let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Updated 5/28/2012 – JF