Curios: The Most Popular Authors in the LEC/Heritage canon

March 27, 2015 § 2 Comments

I’m beginning a new tradition here at the Imagery; once in a while, I’d like to present some interesting bit of research or trivia to you. Today, I’ll share the top authors who were published most by the two major arms of the Macy Companies and their successors. I will separate the two presses at first, and then merge the results to see who wins the coveted (imaginary) “Most Popular” status!

Limited Editions Club:

1) William Shakespeare, with 41 individual releases! I’m counting each book in the LEC Shakespeare as its own entity.
2) Mark Twain, with 12 individual releases.
3) Charles Dickens, with 9 individual releases.
3) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 individual releases.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 8 individual releases.
5) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 individual releases.
5) Joseph Conrad, with 8 individual releases.
8) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 individual releases.
8) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 6 individual releases.
10) Gustave Flaubert, with 5 individual releases.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 5 individual releases.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 5 individual releases.
10) Anatole France, with 5 individual releases.
10) Victor Hugo, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jane Austen, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jules Verne, with 5 individual releases.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 5 individual releases.
10) Sir Walter Scott, with 5 individual releases.

Heritage Press:

This is not as simple to document, as there remains an incomplete bibliography of the Heritage Press output. But, relying on the research I’ve done here, I’ll do my best. I’ll only be doing a Top 5 due to the less frequent original publications of this Press.

1) Charles Dickens, with 14 individual releases!
2) William Shakespeare, with 5 individual releases.
3) Mark Twain, with 3 individual releases.
4) Anatole France, with 2 individual releases.
5) Henry James, with 2 individual releases.
5) Washington Irving, with 2 individual releases.
5) Charles Lamb, with 2 individual releases.
5) Homer, with 2 individual releases.
5) Nathaniel Hawthorne, with 2 individual releases.

OVERALL:

1) William Shakespeare, with 46 books to his name in the canon!
2) Charles Dickens, with 23 books.
3) Mark Twain, with 15 books.
4) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 books.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 9 books (I’m including the Heritage Crime and Punishment as a separate release).
6) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 books.
6) Joseph Conrad, with 8 books.
6) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 8 books.
9) Anatole France, with 7 books.
10) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 books.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 6 books.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 6 books.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 6 books.

This list is subject to change, as there may be a Heritage exclusive somewhere I may have missed.

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Of Interest: The History of the Heritage “Great French Romances” series

May 15, 2014 Comments Off on Of Interest: The History of the Heritage “Great French Romances” series

My good friend Django6924 has written up a splendid little history on one of George Macy’s many attempts to create something unique with the Heritage Press: the “Great French Romances” series. I originally had this in my Gods Are A-Thrist post, but it really should be its own thing.This is mostly unedited (beyond one transition snip, the addition of the authors/artists of the original series, a appendix of the final series in chronological order, a few typo fixes, and my italicizing the book titles) from his original posts. So, without further adieu, I’ll let him take over (the original posting can be found here). Major thanks to Django for letting me host this excellent summary!

In 1938, Francis Meynell of the Nonesuch Press in England, of which George Macy became Managing Director in 1936, joined with a committee of French writers, who were chaired by Andre Maurois, to produce a series, “The Ten Great French Romances,” for Nonesuch. These would have a distinctive typographic plan and binding, designed by Meynell, and would illustrated by the “best French book illustrators,” as chosen by the committee. The books were, in order of planned publication:

Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde
Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Demetrios Galanis
Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost D’Exiles/Andre Dignimont
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David
A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan
The Gods are A-thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé

The typographic moulds were made in England, then sent to France for printing at the Inprimerie Protat Freres in Macon (home, incidentally, of an excellent burgundy), as the French had superior quality rag paper. The illustrations were first printed at Georges Duval in Paris by the collotype process, then hand-colored through the pochoir process by the studio of Beaufumé, also in Paris. It is not said where the characteristic binding of fleurs-de-lys patterned linen boards and buckram spine binding was done, but it was in France as well.

Between planning of the series, and the completion of the first two volumes, World War Two had begun. This not only complicated the production, but made it necessary to change plans. Since by this time it was obvious that more of the books would be sold through Heritage in the US, it was decided that all printing should henceforth take place in the US (again, remember that by this time George Macy was really running Nonesuch), though Meynell would continue to design the books in England. A quote from the Sandglass accompanying Dangerous Acquaintances and Candide gives an interesting insight into those nerve-wracking days:

“Transportation to England is difficult enough, transportation to America is far more difficult. Shipped in merchant vessels under convoy, the books have taken weeks to cross the ocean, weeks during which we at the Nonesuch Fellowship have often thought that they must surely be at the bottom of the ocean.”

The above was written in April 1940. In the same Sandglass, the outline for the series of Ten Great French Romances was given. Some interesting statements were:

“The binding of The Charterhouse of Parma will be green (mine is, in fact olive-green), the binding for The Gods are A-thirst will be yellow (mine and every copy I’ve seen is a more appropriate red), and each succeeding volume will be in a unique color.” (The ones I have seem to indicate that the “10 different colors” scheme was abandoned–also, Balzac’s Eugenie Grandet was published later with a green buckram spine and the green patterned fleurs-de-lys boards in the design established by Meynell).

“…Galanis has already finished his illustrations for The Charterhouse of Parma, Dignimont has finished his illustrations for Manon Lescaut, Hermine David has finished her illustrations for The Princess of Cleves, Mahn has finished his illustrations for Germinal, Legrand has finished his illustrations for A Woman’s Life, Brissaud is nearing completion of his illustrations for Madame Bovary, and Oberlé is nearing completion for his illustrations for The Gods are A-thirst.” (Not mentioned was the status of the remaining illustrations, those for Old Goriot by René ben Sussan.)

As a famous Frenchman once said, “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men, gang aft agley.” A letter To The Members OF THE HERITAGE CLUB dated April 10 announces that it will be “necessary for us to send both Dangerous Acquaintances and Candide to you in the same package”, in May, rather than in April and May successively. This was necessary because the head of the atelier doing the hand-coloring, M. Beaufumé, was suddenly called into the army and that it was then up to his wife and daughters to finish his work as well as their own.

The next book of the series, distributed in July, 1942 was entirely printed and bound in the US, The Gods Are A-thirst, for which Jean Oberlé did the illustrations and took them to London just ahead of the Occupation of Paris. The hand-coloring was done by Macy’s favorite pochoirist in the US at that time, Charlize Brakely.

The next book, A Woman’s Life, sent to subscribers in September, 1942, was again was done entirely in the US and again enlisted the services of Ms. Brakely. The illustrations were done by Edy Legrand, a Macy favorite who would later do the 2nd LEC Don Quixote, but who in 1942 had fled Paris for Fez in French Morocco. (Interestingly, the LEC would issue A Woman’s Life in 1952 with the same typographic plan, this time using the studio of Walter Fischer to do the pochoir hand coloring, one of the few times when an LEC in essence reissued the same book originally published by the Heritage Press using the same illustrations.)

In November of the same year, Heritage issued Germinal with b&w illustrations by Berthold Mahn, reproduced by photogravure. Frank Fortney at Russell-Rutter bound them in the fleurs-de-lys/buckram binding which matched the first two (and I assume the 3rd and 4th books, but although my copy of The Gods are A-thirst follows this design [albeit in red rather than the planned yellow], as does my Heritage copy of A Woman’s Life, I’m not sure my copies are the first Heritage editions). Things are getting a little strange by this time as the Sandglass for Germinal lists the Ten Great French Romances again, and lo, Manon Lescaut has dropped off the list and has been replaced by Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin! No explanation for this is given, but the obvious one is — the Heritage Press had already issued Manon Lescaut with a pigskin leather spine and marbled paper boards back in 1935 with illustrations by Brissaud (and with an original lithograph signed by Brissaud in the 1500 copies that were first offered to members of the LEC as a “collector’s item” when the Heritage Press was launched). And what of Dignimont’s “finished” illustrations for Manon as announced back in 1940? Never used anywhere, apparently, and perhaps destroyed during the war. One would love to see them, especially in light of the illustrations I saw once which Dignimont made for Pierre Louys’ Petites Scenes Amoureuses–which border on the pornographic, but in a most beautiful and Frenchified way. (Dignimont later did The Wanderer and The Moonstone for the LEC and Heritage Press.)

In January of 1943, Madame de Lafayette’s wonderful The Princess of Cleves is issued. Meynell planned the design and printed his specimen pages at the Fanfare Press before war broke out. The book features many beautiful illustrations by Hermine David, who after completing the illustrations in Paris just before the Occupation, “disappeared into a convent,” according to an earlier Sandglass. (She didn’t take orders, this was more of a retreat to a Benedictine abbey in Dourgne, near the southern French city of Toulouse, to where she returned many times until her death in 1970, seeking inspiration while doing her illustrations which became increasingly ones with religious subject matter.) The Princess of Cleves was letterpress-printed in New York at the printing house of Leo Hart, and once more the delicate hand-coloring was done at Charlize Brakely’s studio. The series binding of buckram and fleurs-de-lys was utilized. My copy is a light brown, and as far as I know this was the only printing of this particular work by Heritage or Nonesuch (and no LEC edition) until the Norwalk, CT incarnation of the Heritage Press issued it in 1970–not utilizing the series binding.

It is not until February, 1944 that the next Great Romance appears and it is, in fact, Theophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin. (Parenthetically, I have to say I can’t understand its omission from the original list as it is a much more compelling novel than Manon Lescaut.) By now the original plan announced in 1938 is really having difficulties–mostly due to the war. Mademoiselle de Maupin is not designed by Francis Meynell (who was probably spending a fair amount of time in 1942-1943 dodging into air raid shelters) but by American George Salter (who was born a German and whose design for the cover of Berlin Alexanderplatz in 1929 was a revelation in its time). The illustrations–and racy ones they are!–were by Andre Dugo, a French expatriate living in New York. The binding utilized the same pattern as the previous books, this time blue buckram and cream and blue fleurs-de-lys boards.

In September, 1949, Old Goriot, is finally published with René ben Sussan’s illustrations. The title page has The Heritage Press, New York & The Nonesuch Press, London, though the obverse side simply says “Printed in the United States of America.” There is no date of publication–an anomaly in the series. The Sandglass says M. ben Sussan “had a bad time, an altogether bad time” during the war, spending his time dodging the Nazis. His remarkable illustrations were reproduced from his B&W brush drawings via gravure, then the colors were applied, not by pochoir, but by hand cut rubber plates, one for each color. The rubber plates were done by Herbert Rau. Are they as good as hand-colored using stencils? I don’t know, but they are truly wonderful and match any of the hand-colored ones in the series. The series binding is used (only “Nonesuch” appears on the red buckram spine–not “Heritage”).

It isn’t until February, 1951 that Madame Bovary appears. I foolishly gave away my Heritage/Nonesuch edition when I acquired the LEC version which came out in April, 1950, so the information which follows comes from the LEC Monthly Letter. As you remember, Pierre Brissaud had elected to do Bovary and was “nearing completion” when the series was announced in 1940. The Monthly Letter continues:

“But by the time M. Brissaud finished his illustrations, the Nazis had marched into Paris and the Nonesuch Press had lost contact, with M. Brissaud on the one hand, and with us on the other. It was to us, at the headquarters of the Limited Editions Club in New York, that the Brissaud illustrations for Madame Bovary found their way; and it was we who, immediately after the war was over, found ourselves in Paris with those illustrations under our arm and the mission to have those illustrations reproduced in Paris, not for the Limited Editions Club, but for the Nonesuch Press.”

The Monthly Letter then goes on to say that discovering that the atelier of Théo Schmied had reopened in Paris, and M. Schmied had indicated his interest in printing the Brissaud illustrations through multiple wood engravings, that it was decided Bovary with the Brissaud illustrations reproduced through multiple wood engravings in color would be issued first as an LEC book, and it was. This was despite the fact that Madame Bovary had been previously issued by the LEC in 1938, with illustrations by Gunther Boehmer (I’ve never seen a copy of this edition). The Monthly Letter then adds a reassuring note:

“Now once this edition…is distributed to members of this Club, it will be followed by an unlimited edition (in which the illustrations will be reproduced in monochrome) to be included in that series called The Ten Great French Romances, for distribution by the Nonesuch Press in London, and for the Nonesuch Press, by the Heritage Club in New York.”

Meynell’s typographic plan was used for the LEC editon, and of course, for the unlimited edition, which, if memory serves me, had “Heritage” on the bright green buckram spine, with green fleurs-de-lys patterned boards, which indicates it was a later printing as the 1950 edition had “Nonesuch” on the spine, which was lavender. As I remember, my Heritage edition had the illustrations reproduced in color–not monochrome.

Stendahl’s The Charterhouse of Parma brought the series to a close in 1955. The series binding features “Heritage” on the olive-green buckram spine, and the title page doesn’t mention Nonesuch. The designer of the typographic plan isn’t specified in the Sandglass, though it looks very much like Meynell’s other designs. The illustrations are not by Galanis, but by Rafaello Busoni, who had won an international competition sponsored by the LEC in 1945 and on the basis of that had already illustrated Stendahl’s other novel The Red and the Black for the LEC. What happened to Galanis’ illustrations, which were already finished back in 1940? I haven’t found any evidence in my readings, but remembering that Galanis had been commissioned by the LEC before to illustrate Oedipus the King, and that those illustrations had come a cropper during the Occupation, it’s possible an identical fate befell the Stendahl illusrations. (If you are unfamiliar with the Galanis/Sophocles story, here is a link to WildcatJF’s excellent summary.

The Busoni illustrations are two-color lithographs and are actual lithographic prints. The type pages were composed by Leo Hart and printed by the Riverside Press. The binding was done by Frank Fortney.

The Herculean labor of completing this series must have been a relief to Macy, and probably a source of pride. These books are really wonderful and the best of them fully the equivalent of some of today’s limited fine press books.

The final list, then, is as follows:

Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage (1939, Heritage exclusive)
Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde (1940, Heritage exclusive)
The Gods are A-Thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé (1942, Heritage exclusive)
A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand (1942 Heritage printing, 1952 LEC edition available)
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn (1942, Heritage exclusive)
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David (1943, Heritage exclusive)
Mademoiselle de Maupin by Theodore Gautier/Andre Dugo (1943, LEC edition available)
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan (1948, LEC edition available)
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud (1950, LEC edition available)
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Rafaello Busoni (1955, LEC edition available)

UPDATE!

It’s recently been brought up that the Heritage Press issued a second Honore de Balzac work under the same design auspices of this series despite originally not being included on the list. Django6924 once again is the source of the below info:

Unlike the other books in the series, Eugenie Grandet was not on the original pre-WWII slate of Ten Great French Romances (the Balzac representative being Old Goriot under Meynell’s master plan). Now this plan changed early on, but Eugenie was never one of the group, and the HP edition is, in this case, a reprint of the LEC (also designed by Meynell). I suppose that in the post-George Macy period, it was felt that putting the HP reprint in the same series binding would encourage those who had some or all of the others to want to extend the collection, as you mentioned.

The HP Eugenie is a fine addition to the series, although it doesn’t feature any hand-colored illustrations like the original group; to the best of my memory, the colors applied via hand-cut rubber plates were excellent. I prefer the fleur-de-lys binding of the HP to the LEC’s khaki-colored buckram with black-leather labels made to resemble some sort of medieval-esque binding hinges. The true superiority of the LEC is in the paper, a thick, rich paper that must be 100% rag; I say “must be” because the Monthly Letter doesn’t mention a word about the paper.

Thanks once again!

Heritage Press – The Gods are A-Thrist by Anatole France (1942)

July 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

The Gods are A-Thrist by Anatole France (1942)
Sandglass Number VI:21
Artwork: Illustrations by Jean Oberlé
Introduced by André Maurois, translated by Alfred Allinson
Heritage Press exclusive; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration.

Click images for larger views.

a-thrist-binding

Front Binding – Sooner or later I was bound to run into this series; today’s a good a day as any! This book is a part of a greater series on the Great French writers, done in collaboration with the Nonesuch Press (for lavish details on the Nonesuch side of things, I point you to Nick Long’s splendid post on their edition of this very book at his blog). As I have mentioned in The Shaving of Shagpat, the Nonesuch Press was run by Sir Francis Meredith Meynell, who designed this particular edition (according to Long, George Macy designed eight of the ten books, and this one was one of the exceptions). Since this is the first time we’ve seen a book in this line, let me do my best to properly detail out each one below:

A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand (1942 Heritage printing, 1952 LEC edition available)
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan (1948, LEC edition available)
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud (1950, LEC edition available)
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn (1942, Heritage exclusive)
Mademoiselle de Maupin by Theodore Gautier/Andre Dugo (1943, LEC edition available)
The Gods are A-Thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé (1942, Heritage exclusive)
Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage (1939, Heritage exclusive)
Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde (1940, Heritage exclusive)
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David (1943, Heritage exclusive)
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Rafaello Busoni (1955, LEC edition available)

There is a splendid story behind this series, which I’ve recently separated out into its own post here.

As stated above, the books all share a similar motif for the boards like above; a Fleur-de-lis pattern on both sides, with a gold-stamped spine highlighting the title in a rather fancy font.

Anatole France once again makes an appearance here; we’re running out of books to spotlight! I’ve covered the two editions of Penguin Island and the Heritage Revolt of the Angels already, and, for those who stumble upon this on the main page of the blog, will see that I just shared a heap of illustrations and info from the Dodd, Mead & Co. illustrated editions of those two works right below this one (or for those just glancing at this one post, here’s the link!). All that’s left is for me to track down the LEC copies of At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque and The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard , as well as a LEC or Heritage copy of his shorter novel Crainquebille…not to mention the Sauvage Penguin Island from the Heritage Press! I adore this man’s work, that I most certainly do, and he’s very high, if not the highest, on my “need to own all of the works done by Macy of this author” list. Luckily, his relative obscurity in today’s literary circles will make that not too horrid an expenditure.

Jean Oberlé makes his sole appearance in the George Macy Company canon here. I’m a little torn by the work, personally; it’s colored well and Oberlé has a knack for bringing out the humorous aspects in his illustrations, but the overall look and layout doesn’t excite me. Such is life, I suppose; I can’t be wooed by everyone!

Production details: the font is Cochin, with headings in Sylvan (hmm, almost a nod to Sylvain Sauvage!). The title on the title page and ornamental letters are all done by hand. Riverside Press printed the text, while the Photogravure and Color Comoany of New York produced the illustrations. The Arrow Press colored the art via pochoir, which the Sandglass gleefully explains on Page 4. No bindery info this time!

a-thrist-slipcase

Slipcase

a-thrist-title

Title Page – André Maurois, well-known biographer and writer, steps in to introduce this story. Alfred Allinson was one of France’s official translators, and Macy snatched up his localization to use for his edition. Now, an interesting development occurred with the various issuing of this book via Heritage and Nonesuch. Nick points this out, utilizing my photo to contrast against his Nonesuch copy (which I hope he doesn’t mind my using of it, much like he was concerned about his use of my picture!):

gods-hpvsns

The interpretation of Oberlé’s artwork is radically different in the two works! The Nonesuch was hand-colored, as Nick points out, compared to the rubber-stamped prints done for the Heritage printing. Fascinating stuff, and it makes me wonder if other books shared between the two printing houses did the same sort of treatment. Kudos again, Nick!

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

Personal Notes – I bought this from Old Capitol Books in Monterey the first time I visited the rechristened Bookhaven. It’s not the first printing, but I’m happy to have another France tome in my collection. It’s in really good shape.

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

Updated 7/17/2013 by JF

Of Interest: Anatole France’s The Revolt of the Angels and Penguin Island, as published by Dodd, Mead & Co.

July 10, 2013 Comments Off on Of Interest: Anatole France’s The Revolt of the Angels and Penguin Island, as published by Dodd, Mead & Co.

Welcome to the very first non-Macy book post here at the George Macy Imagery. Today’s post will focus on the lovely editions of The Revolt of the Angels and Penguin Island Dodd, Mead and Company put out in the early 1900’s. I’ve ordered a slew of other titles in the line from my local library system for examination, as I do adore these two volumes immensely. What really makes them remarkable is the artwork done by Frank C. Papé; best known perhaps for his work on James Branch Cabell’s works like Jurgen. He didn’t handle all of Dodd, Mead’s France collection, but he probably should of, given how amazing these two are. I’m abandoning the usual format for these special posts, but I’ll inform you on what I do know in the paragraphs.

francedodd-pi-binding

Front Binding – Let’s start with Penguin Island. This edition was published in 1926 by William Clowes and Sons, Limited, located in London. A.W. Evans is the translator; the very same as the LEC/HP Cameron and HP Sauvage editions. This series was edited by Frederic Chapman and James Lewis May, featured 31 volumes, and were issued in Great Britain by The Bodley Head. That’s all the production details I can share. The bindings are striking; I’ve seen a couple of the volumes are red cloth over black, but I’ll update this when I get a hold of the library copies of the other works. This one ended up in my hands courtesy of Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey for $15. It’s in fairly good shape considering that it’s close to 90 years old!

francedodd-pi-title

Title Page – Here’s Papé’s whimsical artwork on full display. He was a master, no question, and his work is perfectly suited for both this book and Revolt.

Examples from Penguin Island (right click to enlarge):

francedodd-rota-binding

Front Binding – Revolt features the translation work of Mrs. Wilfrid Jackson, just like Macy’s LEC/HP edition. This one was issued in 1928, printed by Richard Clay and Sons, Limited, in Bungay, Suffolk. Bernard Miall joined the editorial board by this point. My wife bought me this book for Christmas in 2012, and it’s awesome. I adore both of these works by France, and this one is just…wow. Seriously. The cover has a little bit of discoloration to the gold leaf on the big wing of the sphinx, but otherwise it’s in very good shape.

francedodd-rota-title

Title Page – More good stuff from Papé.

Examples from Revolt of the Angels (right click to enlarge):

francedodd-spines

Spines for Both Books

All and all, wonderful printings of a too-little-read author nowadays. If you like France’s work, consider adding these lovely books to your collection. If you haven’t read France, these are both fantastic stories!

Heritage Press – Penguin Island by Anatole France (1938/1947)

July 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

Penguin Island by Anatole France (1938)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations in water-colors by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated by A.W. Evans
Heritage Press Exclusive

Click images for a larger view.

Binding and Spine – Anatole France received quite a smattering of attention from the George Macy Company, way more than he receives today (a shame!). Penguin Island was the one work of France’s that Macy produced twice. I discuss France’s LEC and Heritage editions in my earlier Revolt of the Angels post.

Thanks to Django6924, I am able to share with you the original Heritage exclusive that predates the later LEC release. In 1938 Macy recruited Sylvain Sauvage [no stranger to the books of France, as he did two LEC’s of his before this one, At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque (1933) and The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1937)] to produce this lovely edition of what is probably France’s best known work. Sauvage has popped up here before for his amazing work on Zadig, and I’m happy to have him make a second appearance. I covered his career in the aforementioned post, so we’ll just jump into this book’s specifics. Early Heritage books tended to have production details, and this one is such a book, so I’ll plop that down for some minimal design details:

Since I initially wrote this post, fellow George Macy Devotee featherwate submitted to me information from Michael Bussacco’s book on the Heritage Press, which I will paste below:

I don’t have a Sandglass with my copy of the HP Penguin Island, but here are some of the technical details taken from Bussacco’s Sandglass Companion:

Type: Granjon was chosen for being both dignified and unobtrusive – (Sandglass: “dignity is required in the setting of a satiric novel”) – and its size is 14 pt. The paper, made by the Worthy Paper Company, resembles the paper used for the HP Romeo and Juliet and is guaranteed to last for at least two centuries!
Illustrations: Ten full-page water-colour pictures, reproduced to the exact size of Sauvage’s original paintings by Ralph M. Duenewald of New York, who was also responsible for printing Sauvage’s illustrations for the LEC Cyrano and Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. BTW, “The navigation of Saint Mael” is on page 34, and “Then she went away…” on page 60.
One of the most interesting features of the book is its binding. First the bad news: it’s not leather. In the words of the Sandglass, the sheets are encased in “heavy boards over which the binder has worked a material from the factories of E.I Du Pont de Nemours Company. It is a material of which the surface is treated with pyroxolin. It will last longer than most book cloths, far longer than most cheap leathers, not quite so long as expensive leathers that are used in the binding of a hundred dollar books.
The material is dyed black. Its surface is treated with leather graining. This is just rank imitation. We would much prefer to use the original goatskin which this graining imitates!”. (Would have been too expensive.)
Not mentioned in the Sandglass is the origin of pyroxolin (or more properly, I think, pyroxylin, though there was a New Zealand racehorse called Pyroxolin in the 1890s). It has been around since 1868, when Albany printer and inventor John Wesley Hyatt gave the name to a blend of nitrocellulose and the plasticiser camphor (sap from the laurel tree) which produced a durable, colourful, and mouldable thermoplastic. It is still used today by specialist bookbinders and conservators. Riley, Dunn & Wilson, for example, make solander boxes with a covering of pyroxolin[sic]-impregnated light-fast, moisture- and vermin-resistant library buckram. As a non-scientist I find it slightly worrying that pyroxylin appears to be essentially the same thing as gun-cotton and the notoriously inflammable nitrate base used for early film stock. Not much point in having a 200 year guarantee for the paper if the binding is liable to sudden spontaneous combustion! Another reason to keep one’s books out of direct sunlight…

So, the book is bound in a material similar to gun cotton? That’s fascinating…and scary! Definitely keep it out of the sun or away from any other heat source! Anyway, the book’s front binding has a lovely embossing:

That’s all I can give you for now, but I’ll refresh this post when I find out more.

Title Page – A.W. Evans was the translator for Penguin Island, and there is no introduction whatsoever. Sauvage’s art is a great fit from what I can tell.

Chapter IV – As I do not own this, I do not know the specific page numbers. I’ll update this once I know. This is incredible art, that it is.

Example Illustration – More mastery. I think I need this.

Extra special thanks to Django6924 for the images and featherwate for the info from Bussacco!

Penguin Island by Anatole France (1947)
Sandglass Number 15K
Artwork: Drawings by Malcolm Cameron
Translated by A.W. Evans, Introduced by Carl Van Doren
Reprint of LEC #181, 17th Series, V. 7 in 1947.

Front Binding – For the second Heritage issuing of France’s seminal work, the Club reissued the later LEC Penguin Island. This was one of the winning entries for the LEC’s “Third Competition in Book Illustration”, which the Sandglass gets into the minor details of on Page 2 (Macy says he doesn’t want to bore people with it yet again, and then explains it all anyway :p ). Malcolm Cameron’s drawings won over the judges and netted him one of the five first prizes, and thus the LEC had its own Penguin Island to crow about. Cameron would do one other book for the George Macy Company, Jack and the Beanstalk, which was released in a set of Evergreen Tales in 1952. Cameron was actually an architect by trade, dabbling with his artwork as a side project. Upon winning, he gave up his old career (the Sandglass wondered if his netting the prize had anything to do with it) and committed to being an illustrator full time. Blog commenter Tom Lessup dug up some personal info on Cameron:

Malcom Cameron, printmaker, illustrator and architect
Born in Redlands, CA on Sept. 2, 1902, Attended the California Institute of Technology and Cornell University. He apprenticed in an architectural office in NYC in 1927-28 and then moved to Los Angeles. In 1945 he settled in Bonsall, CA and lived there until moving to Shaw Island, WA in 1962. He died there in March 8, 1975. Illustrated books such as “Penguin Island” by Anatole France and “Notre Dame de Paris” by Victor Hugo.
Exhibitions: Oakland Art Gallery, 1939; GGIE*, 1940. In: Library of Congress.
Source: Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940″
*Golden Gate International Exposition
Sometimes confused with Australian painter/printmaker of the same name, born 1934

Massive thanks for elaborating on Mr. Cameron’s career for us, Mr. Lessup. :)

Some production details, then. France’s text and Cameron’s drawings were reproduced through electroplates and photographs, respectively. The Photogravure and Color Company handled Cameron’s side of the equation. Joseph Blumenthal was the designer of this edition, who also had personally designed the font chosen for the work, Emerson. It is called that due to Blumenthal’s choice to use it to print Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essay on Nature. Designer buffs will want to peruse this Sandglass, as it goes into Mr. Blumenthal’s career in very extensive depth. The Stratford Press handled the printing of the text. The bindery is suspiciously absent.

Slipcase

Title Page – A.W. Evans’ translation made the leap from the Sauvage edition. Carl Van Doren supplies this printing with an Introduction. A lovely title page, this one. I like it more than the Sauvage edition.

Book 1: The Beginnings

Page 30 – Cameron’s linework is exquisite. France is doubly lucky to have two fine illustrators render his work so delightfully for one publishing house.

Personal Notes – I got this at Bookbuyers in Monterey as part of a trade-in, and I’m really happy to have it. I adored Revolt of the Angels, and I hope I will enjoy this as well. I’d like to own Sauvage’s edition as well, which would give me three versions of this work (I also have an early Dodd, Mead edition with Frank C. Pape’s artwork, and that is also exquisite!).

Sandglass:

Heritage Press: The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France (1953)

March 8, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France (1953)

The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France (1953)
Sandglass Number I:19
Artwork: Etchings by Pierre Watrin
Introduced by Desmond MacCarthy, and translated by Mrs. Wilfrid Jackson
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #239/22nd Series V. 7 in 1953

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Anatole France, the satirical French author who you see all too little reprinting of these days, is the subject of today’s post. This book, The Revolt of the Angels, was the last one printed by the Limited Editions Club, following At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque (1933), The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1937), Penguin Island (1947), and Crainquebille (1949). The first two were illustrated by Sylvain Sauvage (who would also do a special Penguin Islandfor the Heritage Press, among several others), while Malcolm Cameron and Bernard Lamotte supplied illustrations for the last two, respectively. The Heritage Press also did another of his works, The Gods are a-Thrist. Django6924 has this to add about France’s popularity within the Macy Companies:

It is interesting that the Macy companies gave so much attention to Anatole France, who, though a Nobel Prize winner, was certainly not in the upper echelon. Five of his novels found representation in the LEC and one additional Heritage Press only edition of The Gods are a-thirst. This puts him ahead of Thomas Hardy, one of the better represented English novelists (Conrad eventually pulled ahead of France, but a majority of his works were printed after Macy’s tenure–during the time George Macy was in charge, only Dickens was better represented among novelists.)

This particular book has a bit of interesting history to it, as the Club was wanting to publish a fine edition, naturally, but were not receiving sample illustrations that they felt matched the book’s spirit. In fact, they go on record saying that they were “disappointed with these sample drawings”. While in Paris, France’s (the author, not the country) original publisher, Calmann-Levy, was about to unleash their own collector’s edition of Revolt, with etchings done by Sauvage protege Pierre Watrin. Watrin’s work fit the Club’s imagining of their book so perfectly that they gained reprinting rights for the art, and had them reproduced via gravures thanks to the Photogravure and Color Company in New York (for this particular edition, at least). Saul and Lillian Marks of California designed the book, as well as setting the type, a font called Bembo. Django has this to add about the Marks:

The Revolt of the Angels was another production from Saul and Lillian Mark’s Plantin Press in Los Angeles, and the Macys shared HuxleyTheCat’s opinion about their designing and producing skills. In the Monthly Letter on another of the several books from Plantin, Macy wrote that the presswork “was the finest since John Henry Nash went to his reward.” This was the ultimate in praise, as Macy felt that for quality, Nash was unmatched by any printer alive.

HuxleytheCat is a fellow user on LibraryThing, FYI. But here we are still on the binding and I’m prattling on and on. Let’s talk about this! The boards are covered in a “silky material of a midnight-blue color” according to the Sandglass, with a sword adorned with angel wings stamped into the front boards in silver leaf. This blue is a lovely color, but the ink that stained it is incredibly sensitive to fading in the sun, as I’ve seen at least five different copies all afflicted with a grayed, dull spine. Shame, too, as it’s otherwise a nice book.

Title Page – Mrs. Wilfrid Jackson, who spent much of her time translating the works of France it would seem from a quick Googling, seems the right person for the job translating this work. Desmond MacCarthy serves up an Introduction. The book was printed by the Ferris Printing Company in New York, on paper specially made for the Heritage Press by the International Paper Company, which were then bound by Frank Fortney, also of New York.

Page 23 – I think that the LEC was wise to gain the rights to reprinting Watrin’s work, as he has a distinct style that seems to work well. This was his only work for the LEC, which was, as mentioned above, not unique to it. Blog commenter and fellow Macy Devotee featherwate had plenty to say about Watrin’s career following this book:

What the Sandglass doesn’t reveal is that during the seven years that elapsed between Watrin’s etchings appearing in the Calmann-Levy limited edition of the Revolt (1946) and their re-appearance in the LEC/HP editions of 1953, the artist himself seems to have largely abandoned serious book illustration to become an animation artist (and later director). He worked on one of the most famous of French cartoon features, Le Roi et L’Oiseau [English title: The King and the Mocking Bird], which began production in 1948 and was finally completed in – wait for it! – 1980; the delay was caused by studio bankruptcy and arguments over rights. The best-known of his other films is The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976), which he co-directed with Asterix’s creators Goscinny and Uderzo.

It was an interesting change of career for someone who was a star pupil of Sylvain Sauvage and according to the Sandglass had in only eight years established a high reputation as an illustrator and theatre designer. I have to say that most of the few illustrations of his I have found reproduced on the internet are pretty mundane compared to his etchings for Revolt: bread-and-butter pictures in children’s books and strip-cartoon histories of various French provinces (and let’s not overlook Space Mission Health Hygéa 7, a bizarre-sounding medical guide for teenagers[?] issued by the French government).

At http://www.flickr.com/photos/62235807@N02/ I’ve posted a still from Le Roi; the film is in colour but this b&w portrait hanging on a wall seems to have the same graphic wit as Watrin’s etchings for Revolt. I like to think of it as his work.

And I’m sure that’s more than you ever wanted to know about the life and work of Pierre Watrin!

Perhaps more than I wanted to know, but am happy to now know! Thanks!

Page 30 – There’s some in-text art as well.

Page 83

Personal Notes – This is one of the most common Heritage Press books I’ve seen, as least where I live.  My old bookshop gig had one, the last shop I worked at had one, I bought this documented one at a local library sale…it’s sort of bizarre how often I see this. I also spot it in the Bay Area a lot. Compared to France’s other books (which are rarer for me to spot), Revolt seems to follow me around. :p I bought the copy I have now at Second Time Around in Merced (the last shop I worked at), which had a slipcase and was generally a nicer condition. Since the initial writing of this post I have acquired the later Heritage printing of Penguin Island, and would like to get the others. I read this and absolutely loved it, so I want to get all of his books! :)

I also happen to have a delightful Penguin Island printing by Dodd, Mead in the late 1920’s that is illustrated wonderfully by Frank C. Pape. He did a series of France’s work for that publisher following France’s Nobel Prize win. Unfortunately, Pape never collaborated with the George Macy Company, but you can take a look at the Dodd, Mead Revolt here, if you’d like to compare.

Another interesting thing that happened with this book for me is the inclusion of a second Sandglass, for the Heritage Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, a book I have never laid eyes on (and not for lack of trying!). It is some relief to know that if I ever do stumble upon one I won’t need it to have a Sandglass inside it as a determining factor (although I’d probably buy it on the spot considering how scarce it is). Curiously, the second copy I bought had a Sandglass for Washington Irving’s History of New York if I remember correctly. So, look inside copies of Revolt for unexpected Sandglasses!

Sandglass:


Updated 7/29/2012 JF

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