Of Interest: An Attempt to Completely Document the Limited Editions Club and Heritage Press

October 7, 2018 § 2 Comments

I meant to bring this to the blog earlier, so I apologize for the delay. George Macy Devotee SteveJohnson has taken it upon themselves to create a spreadsheet covering all of the LEC and Heritage Press publications, working from resources such as the Devotees forum, Bill Majure’s work, the official bibliographies, Michael Bussacio’s work on the Heritage Press, my blog, and others. It’s an astounding project and one I wish to support, so I am pleased to be able to give it a little more of a spotlight that it deserves. It’s a work in progress so expect it to update periodically.

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Limited Editions Club: King John by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)

October 7, 2018 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: King John by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)

King John by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)
LEC #118/11th Series in 1939-1940
Artwork: Drawings by Valenti Angelo. Edited and amended by Herbert Farjeon.
Part of the LEC Shakespeare series.
LEC #245 of 1950. LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Hello friends, we’re back with a small series of posts continuing our look at the LEC Shakespeare. As I noted in my Henry the IV Part I post, this is a 37 volume achievement of publishing within the annals of the Limited Editions Club. I’ve also made a list of the series and its illustrators. If you want more background on the entire set, I recommend looking at both of those earlier posts; for today I’m going to focus in on this particular play, King John.

King John falls into the genre of histories, although it lacks the broad appeal of Shakespeare’s Henry the IV, Henry V and Richard III in terms of popularity and production in the modern day. It was hugely popular in the Victorian era, however. This is based on the life of John Lackland, the king of England from 1199 to 1216. It is written entirely in verse, a very uncommon trait in Shakespeare’s canon (Richard II is the only other).

Our illustrator this time is Valenti Angelo, whose artistic style works beautifully with the play itself. Much like Salome, Angelo hand illuminated each of his drawings with gold accents, and it really makes each example pop with an energy and vigor befitting the text.

Design Notes – Bruce Rogers designed the LEC Shakespeare. A. Colish printed the text and illustrations, which Angelo subsequently added in illuminations in gold.

Title Page – As with the entire set, Herbert Farjeon handled editing duties for the set.

Colophon – For the LEC Shakespeare, Macy upped the limitation count to 1950 from the usual 1500. This is from the 245th set.

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

Personal Notes – This was one of five LEC Shakespeare volumes sent to me by a fan of the blog. This was an incredibly kind gesture and one I greatly appreciated. I am very happy to add more of this beautiful publication series to my collection, and look forward to sharing the rest with you soon!

Limited Editions Club – The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner (1961)

July 7, 2018 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner (1961)

The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner (1961)
LEC #329/29th Series V. 7 in 1961
Artwork: Lithographs by Paul Hogarth
Introduced by Isak Dinesen

#921 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – Hello friends, we’re back with another LEC offering, this time The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner. This was Schreiner’s sole LEC production, but the book does have a fascinating story behind it. But before we dig into that, let’s touch on Schreiner’s past a bit. She worked as a governess for two separate families in Cradock in the then-known Basutoland (now Lesotho), having been born and raised in the region. In her thirties she departed for England, and despite her relative lack of formal education had enough independent reading to formulate the manuscript for the novel before you now. However, in Victorian England a woman did not have the easiest time of publishing her own works, but Olive was tenacious and kept circulating her manuscript to various publishers. It eventually fell into the hands of George Meredith (of Shaving of Shagpat fame), who enjoyed her novel and pushed for his publisher Chapman and Hall to publish it. In 1883, the book was issued as a two-volume set under the name of Ralph Iron (see what I mean?). Eventually the work was attached to Schreiner, who had returned to Basutoland in 1891, married Samuel Cronwright (who affixed her last name to his), and continued to write, although none of her other literary efforts reached the acclaim of her first.

Another first is illustrator Paul Hogarth, an artist who had seen prior publications of Jane Eyre and The Pickwick Papers issued in foreign countries, and this was one of his earliest American contributions to book illustration. Unlike its author Hogarth would return to the LEC for three more commissions for Cardevon and Sid Shiff’s tenures with the Club: Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon in 1977, Robert Grave’s Poems in 1980, and Sassoon’s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer in 1981.

So let’s get into the meat of this book’s history. You may recall a little while back I produced a post on the “Booklover’s Journey of the World“. I’ll refrain from diving back into that well, but the short of it is that this book was originally planned to be a part of that series when George Macy was still alive and well, and would be entirely produced in Basutoland per the perimeters of the project. As that post documents, this was alas not a long-lived notion, as World War II dashed the enterprise before it could really take off. The newsletter is refreshingly candid about the doomed idea, showing how designer and then-Basutoland publisher Hans Schmoller reached out to Macy to produce a book at his press, and how Macy pitched Story to him, only for the War to intervene and for the suggestion to go unmoved. As the war ended and Schmoller relocated to England, Macy reconnected in the hopes of moving forward with the book once more, but Schmoller was not the head of a press and by the time he was head of the production team at Penguin Books in 1949 and in a role he could act on such a request, Macy’s health was in decline and it took another 12 years for the edition Macy had so yearned to create to become reality under his wife Helen’s eye.

Design Notes – Schmoller may have had to wait several years to execute this book, but he adhered to the original plan as much as he conceivably could. While the book’s text and black and white illustrations were ultimately printed by the Westerham Press in Kent instead of at Schmoller’s former Basutoland press Morija Printing Works, the binding maintained Macy’s intent of utilizing the bark-cloth tree’s namesake bark as the binding material. To the Club’s knowledge this is the first time the material was used to decorate the outside of a book, which was originally stitched together by Basuto women artisans well-versed in utilizing it for clothing and other means. Russell-Rutter per usual was the bindery. The spine’s red cloth and gold leaf design was created by Schmoller. Back to the innards: Dante was the font chosen for the text, with the Hollingworth Ltd.’s Turkey Mill producing the gray-rag paper. The Curwen Press reproduced Hogarth’s color lithographs.

Spine

Slipcase

Title Page – Noted author Isak Dinesen, pen name of Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke, provides an introduction.

Colophon – This is #921 of 1500, and signed by Hogarth.

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

Personal Notes – My good friend Django6924 sold this to me as part of his recent cull. Very happy to have this in my collection!

LEC Monthly Letter

Limited Editions Club: The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni (1951)

May 12, 2018 § 7 Comments

The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni (1951)
LEC #217/20th Series V. 9 in 1951
Artwork: Engravings by Francisco Gonin redone by Bruno Bramanti
Revised translation and Introduction by Ronald H. Boothroyd

#92 of 1500.

Click to see larger views.

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Front Binding – Hello friends! It’s been a few months, but I have acquired a couple new LEC editions that I am eager to catalog! The first is The Betrothed, known in Italy as I Promessi Sposi. Dubbed one of Italy’s most important novels, the work was the sole work of its author Alessandro Manzoni to see a Limited Editions Club issue, but it sounds fairly interesting based on the little research I performed. The text is taken from the 1844 translation spruced up by Ronald H. Boothroyd for this publication.

Much like the text, the artistic direction also takes from the past; in this case, Francesco Gonin’s wood engravings issued in 1840 for the original Italian release commissioned by Manzoni. To modernize those for this book’s release, Bruno Bramanti was recruited to recreate them via his own set of wood engravings. Bramanti would reunite with Hans Mardersteig for their next two LEC commissions The Georgics and The Gallic Wars, but would provide his own unique cuts for those volumes.

Design Notes – Giovanni “Hans” Mardersteig at the Officina Bodoni in Verona, Italy served as designer, with the Officina acting as the printer and bindery. Mardersteig handled several books for the LEC, although this is the first one we’ve seen on the blog from the Limited Editions Club proper; although we have covered a few Heritage reprints. The esteemed printing house has been tied with George Macy since the second series with The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1931, followed by The Divine Comedy in 1933, Imaginary Conversations in 1936, The Life of Benvenuto Cellini in 1937, this volume in 1951, The Georgics in 1952, The Gallic Wars in 1954, The Last Days of Pompeii in 1956, Metamorphosis in 1958, Quo Vadis? in 1959, Toilers of the Sea in 1960, The Trial and Death of Socrates in 1962, The Lives of the Twelve Casears in 1963, The Sonnets of Petrarch in 1965, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters in 1966, The History of Early Rome in 1970, and The Renaissance in 1976. You’ll notice a large gap in years between Cellini and today’s topic; as a printer based in Italy, you can likely suspect that the country’s role in World War II had a significant impact on their operations, especially with American-based companies. But back to our book at hand: the font chosen was Garamond, which was printed on Fabriano paper along with Bramanti’s engravings. A half-natural Italian linen was used to bind the boards, and the spine features a gray-linen block stamped in gold. The book has hand-painted paper sides.

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Dustjacket – A curious addition to any Limited Editions volume; the only other edition I personally have with a paper sleeve is Vanity Fair. According to the Quarto, this was a tradition for the Officina Bodoni publications. What’s neat is that it also has the limitation number painted on the spine as well (see below).

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Spine – Unfortunately this book suffered some foxing while it was in storage, but I intend to try to curb it in the future. Thankfully it does have the paper sleeve to help hide the damage.

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Slipcase/Dustjacket Spine

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Title Page – As noted above, Boothroyd updated the 1844 translation, but also served as the book’s Introduction writer.

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Colophon – This is copy 92 of 1500 and signed by Bramanti and Mardersteig.

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

 

Personal Notes – My dear friend and resource Robert (Django6924) had decided to unload several duplicate volumes he had amassed over the years, and I jumped at this one and the next post we shall see. I would have loved to have received more from him, but alas, financially that wasn’t feasible. But I am very happy to have these two books in my collection; thank you!

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)

January 14, 2018 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)

Limited Editions Club:

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
LEC #292/27th Series V. 1 in 1958
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduced by Angela Thirkell

#403 of 1500.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – Happy 2018 everyone! I am not entirely sure how frequent this blog will see updates without any new books to spotlight beyond this one at present, but I will continue to post new titles that come into my hands as they enter my library — I promise you that!

Our first post in 2018 is not the first for either author nor artist; in fact, we’ve spotlighted them both TOGETHER way back when with the Heritage reprint of The Warden, which predated this book by three years. You can take a look at the Heritage edition I previously reviewed below. Anthony Trollope would only see these two works printed by the Limited Editions Club, with both decorated by Fritz Kredel’s graceful hand. As for Fritz, he hasn’t been spotlighted since 2013’s post on The Decameron, so it’s nice to welcome him back, especially since he was the most utilized of all illustrators by George Macy and his family over the LEC tenure. This is a very representative example of his output; expertly done and apropos of the story within. For his entire LEC/Heritage bibloiography, see here.

Design Notes – Designer Richard Ellis was recruited to continue the tradition he established with The Warden (a theme for this book, as we will see shortly). Ellis is no stranger to the blog at this point; I even reposted a complete LEC/Heritage bibliography just for him from Devotee featherwate! We last saw his work with the Heritage exclusive The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The font chosen was Bell (much like The Warden), which was printed by Clarke & Way on Curtis paper. The letter makes a note about the paper being infused with titanium to minimize showthrough. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter binded the project, with a black levant-grain leather with Kredel supplying a decoration stamped in gold leaf alongside the title and publisher. The boards have a patterned paper, and it seems to be radically different batches used midway through as I’ve seen two copies of this LEC and they did not share the same paper! Kredel’s artwork was reproduced via gravures by the Photogravure and Color Company and subsequently colored by Walter Fischer’s studio. Each of the forty drawings had four separate stencils created for each to maximize closeness to Kredel’s originals. These stencils were then carefully used to color each illustration by hand to match up. More can be seen in the Letter below!

Spine

Slipcase

Title Page – Angela Thirkell, who also provided a preface for The Warden, steps back in to provide the same treatment for this book. Trollope’s two books essentially had the exact same crew backing them, which is sort of unique for the Club. The big selling point of the LEC upgrade is the upgrade to Kredel’s colors, which the Heritage reprint does not come close in replicating:

As was frequent in Heritage reprints of this era, the color choice was radically simplified.

Colophon – This is copy 403 of 1500 and signed by Kredel. My first LEC from him!

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

 

 

Personal Notes – I picked this up for store credit as Old Capitol Books in Monterey when I was down there for Christmas…this is like the 15th LEC of theirs I’ve bought I’m pretty sure. I’ll have to check one of these days…

LEC Newsletter (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Heritage Press:

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork – Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduced by Angela Thirkell
Reprint of LEC #292/27th Series V. 1 in 1958

Click the images for larger views.

Front Binding – A nicely designed pattern for the boards on this book, with a brown spine. Shame it’s been sunned somehow, but it is a library book, after all.

Title Page

Page 18 – Lovely, lovely work. The woman’s face to the right of the carriage is amazing; I’ll need to check and see how it looks in the LEC.

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Personal Notes – Back when I was reviewing library books, I picked this up to document from the Mariposa library. It’s seen its fair share of readers, I can say that much.

Heritage Press – The Story of Reynard the Fox by J.W. von Goethe (1954)

August 13, 2017 § 2 Comments

The Story of Reynard the Fox by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1954))
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Introduced by Edward Lazare, translated by Thomas James Arnold
Reprint of LEC #242, 23rd Series, V. 10

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Hello dear readers! Today’s post features an illustrator I hold most dear; the masterful Fritz Eichenberg, who has made quite an impression on this blog with his exquisite woodcuts and other art scattered throughout the Limited Editions Club, the Heritage Press and a few non-Macy publications. His Macy bibliography is covered in The Brothers Karamazov. But here we get to see a slightly different side to Eichenberg as the majority of his engravings feature animals over humans (although humankind is represented here in the book), giving it much more of a fantastical edge. This is an epic poem from the legendary Germanic author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, although it is not the first appearance of the character Reynard the Fox — according to the introduction the fox has been around at least since the medieval period, with some variants of the tale appearing in Ghent (1148), German (1180), France (1175-1250), and Flemish (early 13th century). English has its earliest version appearing in the thirteenth century as well, alongside an Italian version. In short, Reynard has been around a long time, although it is a particularly excellent spin on this iconic tale that George Macy chose to publish.

Goethe makes his debut on our blog at last, as noted one of the German masters of literature and quite a well-rounded contributor to Germanic academia: among his many talents (including literature) were expertise in art, philosophy, science, diplomacy, architecture and botany. However, we will focus on his skill with the written word, of which George Macy printed two examples of (and his wife Helen a third). The play Faust was the first, issued as a LEC in 1932 starring Rene Clarke’s talents. A Heritage exclusive of the same work was issued later on with Eugene Delacroix’s artwork, possibly in 1959 (I don’t have a copy in front of me to confirm my quick research on ABEBooks; I will update this once I do). I believe it uses the same text as the LEC. Next came this epic poem in 1954 for both clubs, followed by what may be his greatest novel Wilheim Meister’s Apprenticeship in 1959, featuring William Sharp as artist. Not printed by Macy or his other clubs would be the contender for Goethe’s greatest novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, which helped propagate the worldwide literary movement of Romanticism.

Design Notes – The original LEC was designed by Eugene M. Ettenberg, who likely carried his designer title over to the Heritage edition as well. The font is Janson. I don’t have a Sandglass unfortunately so I can’t get too much more into the details than those observations in the Quarto.

Spine

Slipcase

Title Page – I really like this decoration Eichenberg crafted up for this page. Edward Lazare stepped in to provide a new introduction to this work, which was translated by Thomas James Arnold.

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

 

Personal Notes – This was another title Liz sent me last year. I plan to upgrade to a LEC down the road, but will hold on to this title until that day comes.

Heritage Press – Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore (1943)

August 5, 2017 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore (1943)

Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore (1943)
Sandglass Number 10F
Artwork: Illustrated by John Austen
Introduced by John T. Winterich
Heritage Press exclusive

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Today brings another Heritage exclusive to the blog, R.D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone. A Victorian novel written among many other greats of the era, the book is perhaps considered a minor classic in contrast to its more famous contemporaries like Great Expectations and Silas Marner, but it remains a romance icon regardless. The Limited Editions Club however passed over printing an edition of their own, but we do have this Heritage exclusive to consider. Blackmore did not get a second publication.

The book’s illustrator is a different story, as John Austen was called upon for his third Heritage exclusive, following David Copperfield and The Vicar of Wakefield. We’ve seen a fair amount of Austen’s work thus far on this blog, as we have discussed Vanity Fair, The Faerie Queene and the aforementioned Vicar, where I go into his publication history. This is very much in Austen’s usual standards of illustration, with hauntingly beautiful full-page color prints and several line drawings decorating the chapters, and as such may or may not please your eyes, depending on your feelings of Austen’s style. I for one feel this novel fits Austen’s artistic proclivities.

Design Notes – The designer is unstated, so it’s conceivable George Macy handled it, as is often the case when such commentary is lacking in a Sandglass. I’ll update this when I find out for sure. The color prints were reproduced by the Photogravure and Color Company of New York, while text setting and printing was done by Rochester’s The Printing House of Leo Hart. The font is Scotch.  Paper was supplied by The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company, while Russell-Rutter did their usual binding services.

Spine – The front and back covers are pretty barren save the green cloth, but the spine has this delightfully intricate design.

Slipcase

Title Page – Interestingly we get a rather large reproduction of the Heritage logo in the center of this title page (minus the HP). While uncredited here, John T. Winterich stepped in to discuss the book’s origins and history within a short Introduction.

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

Personal Notes – I acquired this at Bookbuyers in Monterey last time I was there. The condition was exquisite! Bright and vibrant, unlike other copies I had seen before. Happy to have this in my collection.

Sandglass

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