Limited Editions Club: Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (1930)

Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (1930)
LEC #10/1st Series V.10  in 1930
Artwork: Woodcuts by Allen Lewis
Translated and Introduced by Edmund Gosse
LEC #1026 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

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Front Binding – Let’s return to the First Series with perhaps its most obscure selection: Undine by German author Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. de la Motte Fouqué is not a widely known author outside of his native country, and even then his literary legacy has distilled to this particular work of fiction, a fairy tale romance written at the height of his popularity and powers. This would be the sole production of de la Motte Fouqué the LEC or Heritage Press would produce.

Its illustrator would not suffer the same fate, thankfully; woodcutter extraordinaire Allen Lewis made a memorable debut here with Undine with dynamic blocks rendered in teal, brown and black inks, leaving an incredible impression on me personally. I adore woodcuts in these books more than anything else, and Lewis set a very high bar that thankfully many others would aspire (and achieve) to reach in the years to come. Lewis would return in 1940 to render the LEC’s first issue of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.

Design Notes – Lewis pulled double duty and also served as the designer. Per the QM (with Macy’s thoughts):

I do understand Macy’s criticism, as the random art elements that border each page don’t blend together in a cohesive way due to said randomness; however, I don’t think that alone dooms this book in any major fashion as the bold colors of the inks overpower any reservations about the framing.



Title Page – What a sight to start a book with! I adore this title page. Edmund Gosse served as translator and provides a short introduction to the work.

Colophon – This is #1026 of 1500, and was signed by Lewis. A rare instance of a double page colophon!

Examples of Lewis’ woodcuts (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – When I first laid eyes on pictures of this book, I knew I had to have it. The teal and brown inks for the woodcuts makes Undine stand out, and the stunning binding only enticed me more. I finally got a hold of a copy this year when I ordered the majority of the 1st series I didn’t already have (just #1 to grab!), and it’s climbed into my absolute favorites of the LEC. It’s a gorgeous edition that really hits everything I personally relish about collecting these books.