Limited Editions Club: The Life of King Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)

May 28, 2016 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Life of King Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)

The Life of King Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)
LEC #118/11th Series in 1939-1940
Artwork: Lithographs in color by Barnett Freedman. Edited and amended by Herbert Farjeon.
Part of the LEC Shakespeare series.
LEC #507 of 1950. LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.


Front Binding – This post brings my blog its first glimpse into the fabled LEC Shakespeare; a 37 volume opus of book publishing that stands as some of the finest in the canon of the Limited Editions Club. I’ve covered the series loosely before, posting a list of the series and its illustrators some time ago. However, I didn’t expect to stumble upon the a part of the set any time soon; most of my book haunts prior to my move lacked any of the LEC Shakespeare, and I’ve only come across one other book before this one in my travels, and I didn’t have the money to purchase it then. And yet here we are, with a “complete” edition of Henry the Fourth, Part I.

The goal of the LEC Shakespeare was to celebrate the greatest author in the English language with a deluxe printing of all of the Bard’s plays and poems, designed by the masterful Bruce Rogers, printed by the leading experts in publishing, and featuring some of the finest artistic talents in book illustration decorating each volume in its own unique way. George Macy wanted this series to be the 20th century’s definitive publication of Shakespeare, and based on this admittedly limited exposure to the series, the goal was met. This edition of Henry IV Part I is a culmination of amazing design, artwork, and printing synergy.

Rogers’ is perhaps the LEC’s greatest designer, and this set is among his finest. The binding is a lovely recreation of Elizabethan era fabric and motifs. The font choice and layout is ideal for a book of this size. And the execution of these design plans were delightfully executed by printing house and bindery A. Colish.

However, the real standout of this book is the stunning reproduction of Barnett Freedman’s lithographs. Freedman hasn’t been my favorite artist in the Club’s canon, as noted in my earlier discussion of his work in Anna Karenina. Here, though? My goodness, the reprinting of his color lithographs is stunning. His auto-lithographs were pulled by the Curwen Press, and Freedman ignored the top and bottom margins, making his oblong prints stylistically stand out not only in craft but in composition. The colors were stone-specific, as is the case with the lithographic process, so once again marvel at the expertise of both artist and printer to make these separate components unite so successfully. The quality of these prints is literally beyond anything else I’ve seen of Freedman’s, and arguably above several other LEC volumes. It’s divine. The colors are crisp, luscious and deep; the artistry of Freedman’s linework nigh-perfect. And that may be the greatest strength of this set — the attention to printing detail is exceptional.

Before moving on, let us recap Shakespeare’s publication history with the Clubs here. Amazingly, I haven’t done that yet! William Shakespeare had 41 unique publications in the LEC, if I were to include the 37 plays in this series as individual works (again, the complete LEC Shakespeare is here). The other LECs include:
Hamlet, illustrated by Eric Gill, 1933.
Poems and Sonnets, 2 volumes, designed by Bruce Rogers, 1941 (these are designed to match the 1939-1940 plays).
The Life of Henry V. Illustrated by Fritz Kredel, modeled after the Olivier film, 1951.
Poems, illustrated by Agnes Miller Parker, 1967. (I have a Heritage copy on the blog)

The Heritage Press had five exclusive Shakespeare publications as well.

Romeo and Juliet, illustrated by Sylvain Sauvage, 1935. This is one of the “First Six” Heritage Press books, and some copies are a deluxe edition signed by Sauvage.
Sonnets, illustrated by Valenti Angelo, 1941.
The Complete Histories, Tragedies and Comedies of Shakespeare, illustrated by John Farleigh, Agnes Miller Parker and Edward Ardizzone (respectively), 1958.

If you want to know more about this particular set, you can’t go wrong with the extensive report of fellow enthusiast Chris at Books and Vines.


Title Page – I don’t really know if my camera can do these illustrations justice. They really are gorgeous, but I don’t think I have the optimal lighting setup to convey this correctly. The text is taken from the First Folio and some Quarto insertions, and Herbert Farjeon served as editor.


Colophon – For the LEC Shakespeare, Macy upped the limitation count to 1950 from the usual 1500. This volume came from the 507th set.

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

Personal Notes – This came from the Bookstore in Chico, CA. Only 38 more to go…but I’m happy to have this one. It is a little worn on the outside, but the inside is exquisite.

Shakespeare Commentary

Updated 10/2/2017 by JF


Heritage Press – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1952)

October 14, 2012 § 3 Comments

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1952)*
Sandglass Number VII:36
Artwork: Lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Translated by Constance Garnett, translation revision by Bernard Guilbert Guerney, and the three omitted chapters translated, edited and revised by Gustavus Spett. Introduction by Lionel Trilling.
Reprint of LEC #213, 20th Series, V. 5 in 1951. Originally 2 volumes.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – A remarkable post is what I present to you today, as we welcome a Russian master and a beloved illustrator into the echelon of our blog. Leo Tolstoy (as the book prints his name here…I’ve seen it many ways!) has written two of the biggest literary classics of all time, including War and Peace and our selected book for this post, Anna Karenina. War and Peace has two different Macy imprints interpreting it in their own unique ways. The LEC War was issued in 1938 in a six-volume set, with Barnett Freedman (the same artist responsible for this edition) rendering its world with his talents. The Heritage War is a fascinating experiment. It combines the drawings of Fritz Eichenberg (who is no stranger to Russian literature illustration as our blog will show) with the paintings of Vassily Verestchagin, with each doing one volume of the two volume set. Verestchagin passed away in 1904, so it’s one of those cases where Macy wanted to celebrate the art of the past with the Heritage Press, a trend he also performed for The Iliad and The Pilgrim’s Progress, for example. We’ll continue on that trail when we get to War and Peace in the near future. As for Anna, it was printed twice by the LEC. In 1933, wood engraver Nikolas Piskariov put his spin on the book, and it also utilized Garnett’s translation (I do not know if it had all of the editors and revisions this one does). Freedman’s take, reprinted here, was done in 1951 as a two volume set. Here’s Tolstoy’s entire LEC output:

Anna Karenina (1931) with wood engravings by Nikolas Piskariov
War and Peace (1938) with lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Anna Karenina (1951)
with lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Resurrection (1963) with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (1972) with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg

I have Resurrection and the exclusive War and Peace Heritage editions, so you can expect those down the road.

Let’s talk about Barnett Freedman for a bit. He is well liked in the Devotees, although I will admit that his style is not usually my cup of tea. I do like his work for this, though. He did the two aforementioned works of Tolstoy for the LEC, along with George Barrow’s Lavengro in 1936 and Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I in 1939. He also was responsible for the two Heritage Bronte publications, Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Lastly, he had a hand in the Heritage Dickens line, rendering Oliver Twist. A short but sweet ride. The Bronte works are similar in style to this, and they’re not really my thing (I have the Random House Eichenberg editions which are LOVELY). I suppose I have been spoiled. :p Anyway, those curious about the career of Freedman and how Macy discovered him will definitely want to examine the included Sandglass below closely. It lavishes so much of its space to Freedman that Tolstoy almost seems an afterthought. :p

Production details! The LEC’s text was set by the Cambridge University Press, which the Heritage reproduces. Brooke Crutchley oversaw the LEC edition’s production, following the typographic plans of John Dreyfus. I cannot tell if Cambridge actually printed out the Heritage reprint’s pages from the Sandglass. The Curwen Press of London however did redo Freedman’s lithographic prints. Russell-Rutter and William Fortney once again did the bindery honors. The font is Ehrhardt, with the larger letter-shapes being of the Fleischmann type.

Back Boards – A delightful rarity to have art on both sides! The Bronte books share this feature as well.



Title Page – A lot of hands were involved in this book. Constance Garnett’s translation was chosen as the best choice for this work, but two further assistants were added to further refine her work. The first is Gustavus Spett. He is a Russian expert and translated three chapters Garnett did not originally. The second is Bernard Guilbert Guerney, who edited and revised Garnett’s work. Although he is not mentioned here, Lionel Trilling supplies an introduction.

Front Endpapers – This is a massively illustrated work, that it is. I figured I’d give you more bang for your buck and include the endpapers over interior illustrations. Each color was its own stone in the lithographic process, so just imagine how much foresight and planning had to go into each illustration!

Back Endpapers

Personal Notes – This came with my huge library acquisition. I’m glad to have it, as I’ve been curious about the contents of the novel for some time.

* = The Sandglass specifically mentioned Freedman’s death in 1958, so this is clearly not the original publication date for my copy. I will respectfully keep the date as is due to the book stating it as such, but I wanted to let you know that this is not a 1952 printing.


Of Interest – The Illustrators of the LEC Shakespeare

April 29, 2012 Comments Off on 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!

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