Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1966)
LEC #380, 34th Series, V. 6
Sandglass Number III:31*
Artwork: Illustrations by Charles Raymond
Introduced by John T. Winterich
#105 of 1500
Click images for larger views.
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 Stories. The 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. I wrote one of my better essays on the book here if you want to read it (but note it is spoiler heavy!).
While I am giving the Heritage top billing since it is a part of the Heritage Dickens, this is one of the few where the Limited Editions Club reprinted one of these for their members, so let’s go ahead and share the binding for that edition:
A solid effort from the latter days of the George Macy Company — I particularly like the “CD” on the front.
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, but you can’t win them all.
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.
Design notes for the LEC are not as detailed at the present time: I can tell you The Spiral Press handled the publication duties under the eye of Joseph Blumenthal, who designed the edition for both clubs. The LEC I received lacked a letter and currently there doesn’t appear to be a copy in the Devotee database, so I will have to return to explain additional details down the road.
LEC Slipcase – I quite like the design choice for the slipcase here, extending the label onto the front and back a bit with the classy “CD” design from the binding.
Heritage 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.
LEC Title Page – Winterich is properly credited here, and the overall design of the title page is quite different. The sketch is gone, as is the border, but a distinguished line break and “for these times” is emphasized in a deep gray ink, which I like.
Colophon – Raymond signed this copy, which is #105 of 1500.
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 when I originally wrote this back in 2014 (yeesh), so I checked this out from the library. After seeing them, I declined. In 2019, I received the LEC as a donation from a kind benefactor who is passing along copies of their duplicates to me to cover on the blog, of which I am thankful. I do love this book’s text, even if Raymond’s style isn’t really to my taste.
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. The more you know!
Updated 11/23/2019 JF