Limited Editions Club: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1969)

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1969)
LEC #418/37th Series V. 8 in 1969
Artwork: Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker
Introduction by John Bayley
LEC #1063 of 1500. Heritage Press reprint available.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – After the salacious Robinson Crusoe post last month that had mountains of text about the feud between Macy and Edwin Grabhorn (that pulled in Valenti Angelo for good measure), our book this month will seem a much calmer, straightforward affair, haha. That being said, it is definitely among the gems of the brief Jonathan Macy period of the Club in my view: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy with the woodcut majesties of Agnes Miller Parker. As I’ve noted before in our previous posts on Hardy, Parker served as the illustrator for all five of his novels produced by the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press, and this would be both the last Hardy novel and Parker’s final commission when it was issued in 1969. I cover both of their careers in the linked post discussing Far from the Madding Crowd.

Jude followed suit with Far from… by including a Japanese rice paper print issued to subscribers of one of Parker’s woodcuts, this time as a two-color print; alas, I did not have the good fortune of repeating my success as I did with Far from… in getting this with my copy, but it came otherwise complete. Curiously, this rice paper print was excluded from the Hardy novel in between these two, The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Design Notes – John Dreyfus was the designer for Jude, continuing on from Far from… and Casterbridge. Dreyfus looked back for some of the design motifs established by A.G. Hoffman’s Heritage exclusive The Return of the Native for Jude, including the font choice of Caledonia, the spine style, and, of course, the continued appearance of Parker’s woodcuts, considered essential by the Monthly Letter for the Hardy novels. It could be why the series ended here, as Parker herself never saw another commission come from Cardevon Press or Sid Shiff before her death in 1980. I do have the announcement for this book, which I’ll share now:

Spine

Slipcase

Title Page – A classy title page reveals John Bayley’s involvement as the book’s introduction author.

Colophon – This is #1063 of 1500, and was signed by Parker.

Examples of Parker’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – After picking up Far from the Madding Crowd, I knew I wanted to collect all of the Parker illustrated Hardy novels (and…well, ANYTHING she’s done for the Club, haha), so this pickup from Powell’s definitely helped me get a bit closer! This is my second Parker signed edition and I still have quite a few to go to get to having them all…so I must have patience!

Video Series #5 – Notable Women Illustrators for the George Macy Company

For the fifth video for the George Macy Imagery Video Series, I share some books illustrated by women for Women’s History Month. Covered in this episode are The Ballad of Reading Gaol (Heritage) illustrated by Zhenya Gay, South Wind (LEC) illustrated by Carlotta Petrina, Jude the Obscure (LEC) illustrated by Agnes Miller Parker, and The Adventures of Hajji Baba in Ispahan (LEC) illustrated by Honore Guilbeau!

There’s a lot of books referred in this video, so here is a medley of links:

The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde/Zhenya Gay
The Aeneid by Virgil/Carlotta Petrina
George Macy Imagery Video Series #1 – The Aeneid
South Wind by Norman Douglas/Carlotta Petrina (Conn.)
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy/Agnes Miller Parker
Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray/Agnes Miller Parker
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser/John Austen/Agnes Miller Parker
The Shaving of Shagpat by George Meredith/Honore Guilbeau

Trivia: The 10 Most Frequent Artists in the LEC

Hey, remember the trivia category? Well, I’m bringing it back. This time, let’s examine who George Macy and the subsequent owners of the Limited Editions Club commissioned the most over the Club’s long tenure!

10) Sylvain Sauvage (7)
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Sauvage illustrated several French classics for the LEC, including Cyrano de Bergerac, The History of Zadig (pictured), and two works of Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard and At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque. He also handled As You Like It in the LEC Shakespeare.

9) Rene ben Sussan (8)
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ben Sussan had two commissions of Honore de Balzac, rendering the worlds of Old Goriot   and Eugenie Grandet as part of his eight titles for the LEC. He also had a hand in English drama, providing art for Jonson’s Volpone, the Fox and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Pictured is The Chronicle of the Cid.

8) John Austen (8)
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Several British works were illustrated by Austen: Vanity Fair (pictured), The Comedy of Errors, The Faerie Queene, The Pickwick Club, and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. He also branched out a little with Aristophanes’ The Birds.

7) Agnes Miller Parker (8)
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The sole woman on our list, Parker’s exquisite woodcuts brought life to all of Thomas Hardy’s novels printed by the Club, as well as The Faerie Queene (pictured), Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard, Richard the Second, and The Poems of Shakespeare.

6) T.M. Cleland (8)
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A talented designer as well as artist, Cleland’s artistic gifts were displayed a little less frequently, but often enough to earn a place on our list. Some of his works include The Decameron, The History of Tom Jones, The Way of the World, She Stoops to Conquer and The Life and Times of Tristan Shandy, Gentleman. Pictured is Monsieur Beauclaire.

5) Valenti Angelo (12)
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The simplistic yet stylistic grace of Angelo graced a dozen books of the LEC, and several of them are masterworks of literature: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The House of the Seven Gables, The Books of a Thousand Nights and a Night, Songs of the Portuguese,  and several religious texts, like The Koran, The Book of Proverbs and The Book of Psalms. Pictured is The Song of Roland.

4) Lynd Ward (13)
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Ward’s thirteen contributions mark him as one of the most prominent illustrators for Macy, and he didn’t even work on the LEC Shakespeare like the majority of the others on this list! Ward’s commissions ranged from non-fiction works such as Rights of Man and On Conciliation with America to fantastical works such as Beowulf and Idylls of the King to contemporary works like The Innocent Voyage (pictured) and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

3) Fritz Eichenberg (15)
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The gifted Eichenberg worked the longest stretch of any of our artists; his first commission was 1939’s Richard the Third for the LEC Shakespeare to 1986’s The Diary of a Country Priest. One of the few to work under late Club owner Sid Shiff, Eichenberg’s output left the LEC a lasting legacy that is difficult to ignore. Best known for his work on the Russian legends of literature, including Eugene Onegin, Crime and Punishment (pictured), Fathers and Sons, and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth.

2) Edward A. Wilson (17)

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Wilson was productive, to say the least; he even had his own Heritage volume detailing his artwork! Among the many classics he brought visual splendor to are Westward Ho!, Treasure Island, The Tempest (pictured), Robinson Crusoe, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

1) Fritz Kredel (20)
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And finally we come to Fritz Kredel, the king of illustrating for the LEC with a massive twenty volumes! Many collections of fairy tales were conjured by Kredel, including both Andersen (pictured) and the Brothers Grimm. Two Shakespeares, two Trollopes, two Twains, Thackeray, Darwin, Austen, Plato and Heine were among the literary giants Kredel decorated for Macy, and his talent was certainly up to such a diverse palette of books.

Next time, we’ll explore the most frequent Heritage Press artists in terms of their exclusives. We’ll see how many of these artisans cross over!

Of Interest – The Illustrators of the LEC Shakespeare

While I’ve yet to cover most of the exquisite LEC Shakespeares, I’ve had a devil of a time trying to find a complete list of the illustrators for the 39 volume set. Well, I’m happy to present to you that very coveted list, in a typed form, so that it’ll be available to LEC collectors looking for books from their favorite illustrators. All of the books were designed by Bruce Rogers.

All’s Well that Ends Well – Drawings by Richard Floethe, printed in color by A. Colish

Antony and Cleopatra – Wood engravings by Enric-Cristobal Ricart, pulled by R.& R. Clark and hand-colored by Jean Saude

As You Like It – Watercolors by Sylvain Sauvage, hand-colored by Mourlot Freres

The Comedy of Errors – Wood engravings by John Austen, pulled and printed in 5 colors by R.& R. Clark

Coriolanus – Tempura paintings by C. Pal Molnar, lithographed in 15 colors by Mourlot Freres

Cymbeline – Lithographs by Yngve Berg, pulled by the Curwen Press

Hamlet – Dry-brush drawings by Edy Legrand, printed in collotype/black/gray by Georges Duval

Henry the Fourth Part I – Color lithographs by Barnett Freedman, pulled by the Curwen Press

Henry the Fourth Part II – Watercolors by Edward Bawden, hand-colored by Jean Saude and printed in collotype by Georges Duval

Henry the Fifth – Pencil drawings by Vera Willoughby, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

Henry the Sixth Part I – Lithographs by Graham Sutherland, pulled by the Curwen Press

Henry the Sixth Part II – Lithographs by Carlotta Petrina, pulled by George C. Miller

Henry the Sixth Part III – Colored line drawings by Jean Charlot, printed in 3 colors by A. Colish

Henry the Eighth – Wood engravings by Eric Gill, pulled by A. Colish

Julius Caesar – Wood engravings by Frans Masereel, pulled by A. Colish

King John – Line drawings in three colors plus gold by Valenti Angelo, printed by A. Colish

King Lear – Brush drawings by Boardman Robinson, printed in collotype in black/2 grays by Georges Duval

Love’s Labour Lost – Crayon and wash drawings by Mariette Lydis, printed in collotype in black/gray by Georges Duval

Macbeth – Color drawings by Gordon Craig, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

Measure for Measure – Color lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag, pulled by Mourlot Freres

The Merchant of Venice – Watercolors by Rene ben Sussan, printed by both Mourlot Freres and Georges Duval, hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume

The Merry Wives of Windsor – Color drawings by Gordon Ross, printed in collotype in black and sanguine by Georges Duval, then hand-colored (does not state by whom…Ross, maybe?)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Watercolors by Arthur Rackham, lithographed in 4 colors by Mourlot Freres, hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume

Much Ado About Nothing – Watercolors by Fritz Kredel, printed in collotype by Georges Duval and hand-colored by Jean Saude

Othello – Wood engravings by Robert Gibbings, pulled by A. Colish

Pericles, Prince of Tyre – Wood engravings by Stanislas Ostoja-Chrostowski, pulled by A. Colish

Richard the Second – Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker, pulled by A. Colish

Richard the Third – Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg, pulled by George C. Miller

Romeo and Juliet – Color line drawings by Ervine Metzl, printed in 2 colors by A. Colish

The Taming of the Shrew – Line drawings by W.A. Dwiggins, printed in sanguine by A. Colish

The Tempest -Watercolors by Edward A. Wilson, printed by both Georges Duval (collotype) and Mourlot Freres (2 colors), hand-colored by Maurice Beaufume

Timon of Athens – Wood engravings by George Buday, pulled by A. Colish

Titus Andronicus – Watercolors by Nikolai Fyodorovitch Lapshin, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

Troilus and Cressida – Wood engravings by Demetrius Galanis, pulled in black/terra cotta by Dehon et Cie

Twelfth Night, or What You Will – Watercolors by Francesco Carnevali, lithographed by Mourlot Freres

The Two Gentlemen of Verona – Watercolors by Pierre Brissaud, printed in collotype (key gray) by Georges Duval and hand-colored (not stated, Brissaud, perhaps?)

The Winter’s Tale – Drawings by Albert Rutherson, hand-colored by Jean Saude and printed in key-black by the Curwen Press

Note that this set is completely unsigned, so that bit of novelty is lost. However, a set of Shakespeare’s poetry followed the release of the plays. They were deliberately matched to the binding style of the rest, and this one is signed by Rogers. Hope this list aids you somehow or another!

Heritage Press: Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray (1951)

Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray (1951)
Sandglass Number VII:16
Artwork: Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker
Introduced by Hugh Walpole
Reprint of LEC #106/9th Series V. 12 in 1938

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – After a bit of a hiatus, your curator is back with some more posts.  Today’s is a real gem, a reprint of the 1938 LEC Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Sir Thomas Gray.  This would be the sole work represented of the poet by the George Macy Company or its successors, but it did launch the relationship between Macy and the incomparable Agnes Miller Parker, who does some of her finest work in this book.  I am a huge fan of Parker’s.  I bought the LEC Far from the Madding Crowdmainly because it included a print of hers.  For the design particulars, the Sandglass is surprisingly silent about that.  I don’t know who designed it, nor who bound it, nor who printed it.  So, I’ll just pass along what I can.  The binding here is taken from one of Miss Parker’s wood engravings, embossed and stamped in silver over blue buckram imported from England.  The font is Goudy Hand-tooled…and that’s about all I can say.  A little peculiar, this one!

Gray composed the poem for a treasured aunt of his, revising a prior work that he was unsatisfied with and finishing the memorial in 1749.  He spent much of that revision at his aunt’s grave at Stoke Poges, and Miss Parker spent her time sketching her wood engravings at that very same graveyard.  So this is a book that was completely inspired by Stoke Poges, you could say!  Having read this work, it’s a lovely poem accompanied by lovely art, bound lovingly.

If you’d like to know more about Miss Parker’s career with the Macy’s, I’ve touched upon that with the post on Far from the Madding Crowd.

Slipcase

Title Page – Hugh Walpole provides an introduction; his great-great-great-great uncle Horace Walpole (The Castle of Otranto) was a friend of Gray’s back in the 18th century.  It has a distinctive look with the blue crisscrossed lines, which it maintains throughout the text.

Stanza 1 – Parker has done some lovely work in here, and I’ll just let it speak for itself.  Amazing artist, that she was.

Stanza 2

Stanza 3

Personal Notes – I got this for $10 – 12 or so in Monterey at my favorite shop.  I haven’t seen the LEC, although I wouldn’t mind owning it, I must admit!  Definitely among my favorites in terms of design and artwork.

Sandglass