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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Heritage Press – Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1966)

June 2, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1966)

Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1966)
Sandglass Number III:31*
Artwork: Illustrations by Charles Raymond
Introduced by John T. Winterich
Reprint of LEC #380, 34th Series, V. 6, in 1966.

Click images for larger views.

hthp-binding

Front Binding – This telltale binding ought to reveal that we’re covering yet another Heritage Dickens! This time, it’s the lesser-regarded (but, in my opinion, most excellent) novel Hard Times. Prior Dickens works covered here so far have been The Pickwick Papers and Five Christmas StoriesThe latter includes Dickens’ complete LEC/Heritage bibliography. Hard Times is a wonderful work that examines poverty, class and greed in a British industrial city, and I greatly enjoyed my reading of it this past semester. In particular, I adore Cecelia “Sissy” Jupe and her defiance of everything expected of a Victorian woman, but the remainder of the novel is quite good, too.

A new artist joins the fold with this book: Charles Raymond. This was his first commission, and he went on to tackle Rudyard Kipling’s Tales of East and West for the Cardevon Press-owned LEC in 1973. To be frank, Raymond’s artwork here is rather lackluster. It renders Dickens’ bold characterizations with a lifelessness I have not seen for some time. It may be the choice of coloring, but I am ultimately unimpressed. Shame, too, as I did think about acquiring the book since I enjoyed it so much! Maybe the LEC is a bit better.

GMD member featherwate passed along some key details from the Sandglass about Raymond and the design info, so I’ll paste that below (with my thanks!):

When Charles Raymond prepared to illustrate our book, he was surprised to find that Hard Times had rarely been issued in an illustrated edition. Therefore, we are all the more pleased that our edition contains his fifteen wash drawings in color — fourteen full-page and a double spread. In addition you will find that each of the thirty-seven chapters opens with a Raymond line drawing. The Charles Raymond we are talking about is a forty-two-year-old English artist to whom colors have an especial meaning, for his addiction is botanical painting and fabric design. No wonder that when he reread Hard Times it appeared to him in terms of the spectrum. Here is his explanation: ‘I became aware of the colours of aging — browns, greens, and brown-greens — and decided that these should be my colours. I felt strongly that the nearer I came to monochromatic interpretation the better would be the final result.’ These smoky wash drawings, which convincingly evoke the special atmosphere of Coketown, have been reproduced with wonderful fidelity by The Connecticut Printers of Bloomfield, Connecticut.

Charles Raymond has produced paintings for a series of volumes on the old garden roses with Sacheverell Sitwell; the Queen Mother headed the impressive list of subscribers. He illustrated The Complete Library of the Garden for The Reader’s Digest Association, Limited, and he has recently been completing the same firm’s guide to Great Britain. Raymond has done a set of rose paintings for Conde Nast and he regularly illustrates for New Society, the weekly survey of the social sciences. ‘I am deeply interested in female and child fashion,’ Charles Raymond has informed us, ‘more so since the coming of the boutique. These latter interests are stimulated by my beautiful young German wife and our three children, two daughters and a son, ages two, four, and five years.’ (The Raymond family lives in Wye, Kent.)

“One reason for the sheer readability of our volumes of Dickens’s works is that the type is Baskerville, a smooth-flowing, clear face which Joe Blumenthal specified back there in 1937 and which your Hard Times proudly displays in the eleven-point size, with two points of leading. The illustrations and the text of this Heritage Club offering were printed by The Connecticut Printers of Bloomfield, Connecticut, on a specially made wove paper, tough and pure in content, manufactured by the Monadnock Paper Company of Bennington, New Hampshire. The gray linen cover, stamped with the decorations originally drawn for us by Clarence Pearson Hornung, is one of the few uniform cover designs in the Heritage roster; the two shelfback sketches of characters from Hard Times were provided by Charles Raymond. This binding was performed by the Russell-Rutter Company of New York.

hthp-spine

Spine

hthp-title

Title Page – Despite the lack of a proper announcement on the title page, George Macy Company’s John T. Winterich does give a brief introduction to this book.

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

Personal Notes – I intended on using Raymond’s illustrations for a post on my other blog discussing Hard Times (if you are curious, it’s here), so I checked this out from the library. After seeing them, I declined. I’d like to see the LEC to see if the coloration of the art is different, but as of right now I’m not interested in owning this, despite loving the book.

As a final curio about Mr. Raymond, featherwate also notified me that Mr. Raymond and his wife were the models for Alex Comfort’s seminal The Joy of Sex‘s illustrations, which Raymond also drew. In fact, knowing that now, I can see the resemblance between that book and this one’s art. The more you know!

Updated 6/6/2014 JF

Heritage Press – Five Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens (1939)

December 24, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Five Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens (1939)

Five Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens (1939)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrated by Reginald Birch
Introduced by John Winterich
Heritage Press Exclusive: Some of these stories were individual LEC titles (I’ll explain below).

Click images for larger views.

xmas-binding

Front Binding – Welcome to our second Heritage Dickens post, and a rather fitting one at that! This compiles A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man into one book. The Limited Editions Club released their own versions of The Chimes (1931 with Arthur Rackham doing the artistic honors), The Cricket on the Hearth (1933, featuring Hugh Thomson), and A Christmas Carol (1934, starring Gordon Ross). Obviously George Macy was a fan of the Christmas works of Dickens!

I failed to fully document the bibliography of Dickens last time, so I will do it now. The Limited Editions Club issued these works of the British master:

The Chimes (1931 with Arthur Rackham)
The Pickwick Papers (1933 with John Austen)
The Cricket on the Hearth (1933 with Hugh Thomson)
A Christmas Carol (1934 with Gordon Ross)
Great Expectations (1937 with Gordon Ross)
Dombey and Son (1957 with Henry C. Pitz)
Hard Times (1966 with Charles Raymond)
Short Stories (1971 with Edward Ardizzone)
American Notes (1975 with Raymond F. Houlihan)

The Heritage Press issued their own, mostly unique set of Dickens over their tenure, too. It exceeds the LEC output, including more of his popular works:

Barnaby Rudge – James Daugherty
Bleak House – Robert Ball
David Copperfield – John Austen
Five Christmas Novels – Reginald Birch
Great Expectations – Edward Ardizzone
Little Dorrit – Mimi Korach
Martin Chuzzlewit – Wray Manning
The Mystery of Edwin Drood – Everett Shinn
Nicholas Nickleby – Steven Spurrier
Oliver Twist – Barnett Freedman
The Old Curiosity Shop – William Sharp
Our Mutual Friend – Lynd Ward
The Pickwick Papers – Gordon Ross
A Tale of Two Cities – Rene ben Sussan
Dombey & Son – Henry C. Pitz (reprint of the LEC in 1957)
Hard Times – Charles Raymond (reprint of the LEC in 1966)

Whew! That’s a lot of books!

Reginald Birch has a bit of a tragic story to tell. He was a renowned illustrator in the late 1800’s, producing the artistic parts of many of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s stories like Little Lord Fauntleroy, as well as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men. He hit a low point in his career that saw him enter poverty in the 20th century when his style fell out of favor. However, he experiences a surge of revived interest following his commission for Louis Untermeyer’s The Little Pirates in 1933. Perhaps Untermeyer was influential in his landing Birch’s sole job for the George Macy Company; Dickens’ five Christmas tales. He passed away in 1943, two years after his eyesight deteriorated and he could no longer do what he loved.

xmas-spine

Spine

xmas-title

Title Page – I will admit that Birch’s style, while appropriate, doesn’t do much for me. It seems sort of…well, barren of the dynamic energy so many of these books elude. May just be me, though. He did some color plates on top of smaller black and while pieces, which I’ll provide an example each of below. John Winterich provides a “How this Book Came to Be” preamble that usually goes along with the early Heritage titles.

Examples of the In-text Illustrations by Birch (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – This isn’t mine; Dickens so far hasn’t resonated with me enough to start collecting his works willy-nilly. :p I wouldn’t mind the LEC A Christmas Carol, as it is the sole tome of his I’ve read I’ve enjoyed thus far. Anyway! This is from my local library system, deliberately ordered to make this post! Merry Christmas to you, my good friends, and we’ll see you next year!

Heritage Press: The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1938)

December 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1938)
Sandglass Number XII: 26
Artwork: Paintings and drawings by Gordon Ross
Introduction by John T. Winterich

Part of the Heritage Dickens series (distinction of the Heritage Press); the LEC did their own 2-volume Pickwick Papers in 1933 with John Austen’s illustrations.

Front Binding – All of the Dickens books initially put out by the Heritage Press have this binding detail, although some have different linen colors to help distinguish them. The spine is where the major difference from the other books lurks, as you’ll see below. All were designed by Clarence Hornung.  Another neat thing about this line of books is that the Heritage Press made all of them the same size. All are 6 x 9 inches, and they seem to all have come with red slipcases (the two Dickens I own feature them, as have others I’ve seen in stores). This book was bound by Frank D. Fortney with Interlaken British grey linen (as the Sandglass describes the color). The front and back are identical.

Dickens was hugely popular with both the LEC and Heritage Press, as both put out several (if not all) of his books.  The first LEC was, curiously, The Chimes. Not his most well-known work, but hey, whatever works! The Chimes came out in 1933 with Arthur Rackham’s visual talent. After an initial frenzy of five books in the 1930’s, he would be given a considerable reprieve until 1957, and the LEC would follow with three more in the ’60’s and ’70’s for a grand total of nine. The Heritage Press didn’t take any sort of hiatus, though, starting off with an exclusive David Copperfield (with John Austen doing the art), and then began this lovely series that were mostly original and unique to their Club. You can check out the Heritage Exclusives list for the entire list.

If you don’t mind, I’ll take a very brief diversion to talk about the first six Heritage Press books. When the Heritage Press got started, they kicked off with a special set that LEC members were offered first.  These were done up a little fancier and featured a signature of the artist somewhere within. 1500 copies were made of these, much like the LEC limitation. Macy had suggested to his LEC clientele that perhaps the Eighth Series of LEC’s could be delayed for these special Heritage books to not cause financial duress to the membership. Naturally, there was a slight outrage, so Macy went ahead and put them both out at the same time. This enabled LEC members to cancel their Heritage order if they so wanted. The six books in question includes the David Copperfield I mentioned, plus A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman (Edward A. Wilson), Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Sylvain Sauvage), The Song of Songs (Valenti Angelo), The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone (W.A. Dwiggins), and Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost (Pierre Brissaud). This info is from the LEC Newsletter for Tristram Shandy, the eleventh book of the seventh series in 1935. From what Django6924 at Librarything recalls, David Copperfield was first, meaning that Dickens launched the Heritage Press (to bring this back around)!

Gordon Ross, the illustrator for the Heritage Pickwick, was a fairly busy artist for the George Macy Company, with at minimum two exclusive Heritage books (this and Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon) and four LEC’s, including two other Dickens works. These were A Christmas Carol (1934) and Great Expectations (1937). Obviously he was well suited to the characters of Mr. Dickens! I have a Heritage The Coverly Letters (the LEC came out in 1945), one of the other two LEC’s he was involved in, with the other being The Jaunts and Jollies of Mr. John Jorrocks (1932). We’ll see Mr. Ross again sometime soon.

Spine – Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Snodgrass adorn the spine, taken from Gordon Ross’ paintings.

Title Page – Ross did eight paintings in this book, alongside drawings to introduce each chapter. You’ll get to see three of those paintings and an example of the chapter openers here. The text is Baskerville, designed by John Baskerville. Printed by Case, Lockwood & Brainard of Hartford, CT with paper specially made for this book provided by Crocker-Burkack Comany of Fitchburg, MA.

Page 21

Page 77

Page 17

Personal Notes – I picked this up along with six other books in the first great Heritage Press haul I made, which took place at an Oakhurst library book sale. I acquired Nostromo, A Tale of Two Cities, Rights of Man, Toilers of the Sea and the two volumes of Les Miserables at the same sale. A considerable accomplishment! All for $2 a book and all of them complete, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, I did snag 50 books for $50 in 2012, which dwarfs this considerably, but for a long time it was the best acquisition I had.

I’ve not read this one quite yet. I’ve dabbled with Dickens with A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol, but I’ve yet to get through an entire work of his. I’m not through with him, though! The Sandglass does a considerable job of hyping this up as one of his best.

Sandglass


The LEC version of The Pickwick Papers features illustrator John Austen, but I’m not sure of any other differences these two variants may have beyond the design and artwork.  Any enlightenment would appreciated!  If you have that info, let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Updated 5/28/2012 – JF

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