Limited Editions Club: The Evergreen Tales series (1948-1952)

The Evergreen Tales series (1948-1952)
Edited by Jean Hersholt, with different illustrators for each volume
Five different sets of three books were issued between 1948-1952; more individual details below.
All are LEC exclusives.

Hello dear readers! Today brings a very unique post to the blog: a comprehensive look into one of George Macy’s many projects under the LEC banner, the “Evergreen Tales” subseries. At present I own sets 1, 2, 3 and 4, and will update this post accordingly when I acquire set 5. This is falling outside of my usual format for my posting given that I will be covering this as an enterprise versus a post per three book set.

Before beginning each set proper, I thought it would do some good to look into the entirety of said enterprise first. This is going to be very generalized as unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information on the creation of this series available to me at the time of writing. As of this moment there isn’t a copy of any of the five sets’ Monthly Letters accessible, a Google search for the sets only gives me options to purchase them, and the Quarto doesn’t get into specifics on its creation from my perusal of it. So, some basics: at some point Macy decided that he wanted to reprint individual tales of children’s literature from several sources in a separate collection. Having done some work in this field with the early editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Book #20) and Andersen’s Fairy Tales (#138 and #195), alongside some publications of Pinocchio (Book #88), the Alice in Wonderland titles (Books #36 and #65), Aesop’s Fables (#47), and Twain’s Tom Sawyer (#114), and some others, Macy was well equipped to tackle this concept. He recruited Jean Hersholt, who had served as the translator and editor for both the aforementioned Andersen’s, to serve in an editorial role on this project. Hersholt is a bit of a fascinating person — I’ll let the Wikipedia page cover much of his biography as this is already going to be a massive post. For our purposes, I’ll note he was an actor, radio personality and avid Andersen fan, with his massive collection of titles being donated to the Library of Congress upon his death in 1956. His work on the original Andersen volumes were praised at the time as being definitive; it’s little wonder Macy called him back to assist with this endeavor. Hersholt provided brief introductions to each tale on top of his editorial and occasional translation duties.

The other major selling point was the recruitment of some of the premiere book illustrators of the era to get their chance to shine alongside these fairy tales. Some of them were already titans in the Macy oeuvre: Fritz Kredel, Arthur Szyk, Edy Legrand, Sylvain Sauvage, and Fritz Eichenberg had several prior editions by the Club at this point. Some illustrators like Henry C. Pitz, Rafaello Busoni, Malcolm Cameron, and Edward Ardizzone either got their start here or were relative newcomers to the LEC canon. Robert Lawson and Everett Gee Jackson were brought back after an extended hiatus from a LEC publication, while William Moyers, Edward Shenton, Ervine Metzl and Hans Bendix began and ended their Macy careers with these editions.

It is important to note that these did have a higher limitation number than usual — 2500, in fact. Finding a complete set with the same limitation number is difficult nowadays! Most were signed by Hersholt, and a few did get the illustrators to sign. An exhausting fact is that the Evergreen Tales had Hersholt sign 2500 copies (plus additional ones for special individuals) for 15 individual books: that’s 37,500 signatures in four years! Note that my “Ali Baba” is not signed by Hersholt, which I touch on below. My third set has Jackson and Ardizzone’s signatures in their respective books, although I know of some of the other sets being signed by their illustrators (my first and fourth sets are not), as you’ll see below. Another thing of curiosity is Hersholt’s dedication to the families these sets went to. In my fourth set the signature includes a dedication note to the “Cutler” children. Other limitation numbers feature this dedication as documented here on Librarything — note that the photos are from the first, second, third and fifth sets, most within the normal 1500 copy limitation. The second “Ugly Duckling” example falls outside of the 1500, though, and is inscribed while mine is not.

Thanks to Django6924, tag83 and astronauteric for the above images. It seems the colophon was a chaotic element with these sets, and one truly will not know if they will purchase a set with illustrator signatures or an additional inscription from Hersholt! Before moving away from this topic, I want to spiral back that I discovered that the fifth set of #1993 ended up with another Devotee, and he noticed the fifth set was still in the original glassine wrappers sent out to protect the books. My fourth set was received the same way. Seems the Cutlers weren’t all that interested in these books by the time the last two were issued in 1952. Shame I don’t know where the second set ended up.

Another question I have on these is how they were shipped to subscribers. For instance, the 18th series considers each Evergreen Tale book to be its own unique release for the twelve books issued that year. However, the 19th series did not do that for the second or third set, with the Evergreen sets counting as their own release alongside ten others. The fourth and fifth sets do the same. So perhaps this first set was issued separately? Or there was a two month gap with the understanding that you’d get three books all at once for the first set? Hopefully I’ll find that out someday.

The other thing to note is that even in the Quarto the designer details are sketchy. I can say five are definitively assigned to Macy himself (“Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” in Volume 1, all of Volume 2, and “The Ugly Duckling” in Volume 3), with one, “The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” in Volume 3 designed by Ernest Ingham. The other nine are quiet on the matter. Given the consistency with these volumes, it’s likely that Macy handled several others within this set, but I cannot state that as a certainty.

I’m not sure if five sets were the intended cutoff point for the series, but given both Macy and Hersholt’s deaths in 1956, I’m sure that future plans for more Evergreen sets were possibly in the cards but folded as the two faced their medical issues. Helen Macy never returned to the concept over her tenure, and thus 15 classic pieces of children’s tales were enshrined under this banner.

Okay, so now that we’ve gone over some of the murky background of the development of the Evergreen Tales, let us begin our look into the books themselves. My Volumes 1, 3 and 4 all came from the same limitation number, #1993 of 2500. My set #2 came from a different number, #1888. I’m going to keep my words to the point for these to keep this post from being too exhausting.

Volume 1: Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, The Three Bears, The Story of Joseph and his Brothers
Illustrated by
Fritz Kredel, William Moyers, Arthur Szyk
LEC #193/18th Series V. 8 in 1948
#1993 of 2500

Click images to see larger views.

Spines – Let’s begin our journey into the Evergreen Tales with the very first set. This is, out of the three I have, probably the most stunning on the binding front, courtesy of the excellent Arthur Szyk having one of his pieces bound into the cover of his take on “Joseph and his Brothers”. The other two are quite playful as well, as you’ll see below:

Front Bindings (in the order they are listed on the slipcase label)

Along with Szyk, Fritz Kredel and William Moyers were the other artists on this set. We recently covered Szyk’s gorgeous art with the LEC edition of The Book of Ruth (which also includes his bibliography). Kredel, meanwhile, was last seen in Barchester TowersLEC update in 2018. Both would continue to see commissions following this. Szyk ended a fabulous run of LEC and Heritage Press commissions over three years with this, and would have his art for The Arabian Nights Entertainments posthumously published in 1954. Kredel would have several more extending into the 1960s; for his entire LEC/Heritage bibloiography, see here. Moyers, meanwhile, only illustrated this book for the LEC.

The Quarto provides the following production details:

As the front binding gallery suggested, I’m going to combine the three books into a gallery for each of my usual post breakdowns just to save on space a little bit.


Title Pages – “Aladdin” was translated by Hersholt. “The Three Bears” is pulled directly from English poet Robert Southey, who created the iconic tale. “Joseph and his Brothers” comes from the King James version of the Bible. All note a 1949 publication year, but given the gap between November to January for these titles, it’s hard to say when exactly these came out.

Colophon – These are #1993 of 2500, and Hersholt signed the colophon for all three.

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

Volume 2: Saint George and his Dragon, Beauty and the Beast, Dick Whittington and his Cat
Illustrated by
Edward Shenton, Edy Legrand, Robert Lawson
LEC #202/19th Series V. 6 in 1949
#1888 of 2500

Click images to see larger views.


Spines – Compared to the other three sets that came from the Cutler family, my second set is a little more faded and appear to have been read more often (there’s also a strong smoky smell in these ones, so I’ll need to apply some baking soda treatment to these to absorb it out). I feel that this set is a bit of a bridge between Set #1 and #3 in terms of the quality of the bindings. “Dick Whittington” and “Beauty” remind me more of the third, while “Saint George” harkens back to the more lush aesthetics of the first.

Front Bindings (in the order they are listed on the slipcase label)

This set brings together two well established LEC illustrators along with a fresh artist who only contributed to this set of Evergreen Tales. Edy Legrand (“Beauty”, last seen here with 2020’s post on Travels in Arabia Deserta) and Robert Lawson (“Whittington”) had both had a LEC under their belt by the time this commission arrived; Legrand had the grandiose LEC Shakespeare Hamlet, while Lawson designed and illustrated The Crock of Gold in 1942. Legrand would continue on with several more commissions through the 1960s (see The Nibelungenlied for his complete Macy bibliography), while Lawson would end his run here. The other artist was Edward Shenton, whose watercolors enrich “Saint George”.

The Quarto provides the following production details:




Title Pages – “Beauty” was originally written by Madame Le Prince de Beaumont and translated by P.H. Muir, “Whittington” was retold by its illustator Robert Lawson, while “Saint George” was retold by William H.G. Kingston. This is the only set without a more extensive literary touch from Hersholt, as he either retold or translated one of the books in the other four Evergreen Tales releases.

Colophon – These are #1888 of 2500, and Hersholt signed the colophon for Whittington along with artist Robert Lawson. For my set, the other two were unsigned.

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

Volume 3: Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves, The Ugly Duckling, The Sleeping Beauty of the Wood
Illustrated by
Edward Ardizzone, Sylvain Sauvage, Everett Gee Jackson
LEC #203/19th Series V. 7 in 1949
#1993 of 2500

Click images to see larger views.

Spines – Set three features three very well known tales from vastly different sources. We have Charles Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty”, Andersen’s “Ugly Duckling”, and the Arabic “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”

Front Bindings (in the order they are listed on the slipcase label)

The bindings reflect these differences as well — I do find that these are a bit of a step back from the first set, but I do like the classy “Sleeping Beauty” one the most of these.

Sylvain Sauvage is my personal highlight here — this is the third posthumous publication the LEC issued after his death in 1948, and if memory serves this is the last I’ll be able to cover here. The last time Sauvage was discussed here was The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard last month! Zadig covers his bibliography for the two Clubs. Edward Ardizzone makes his LEC debut with “Ali Baba”, as well as his GMI debut as well, haha. As of today I don’t have anything else of his in my collection, but when I do, I’ll cover his bibliography. Lastly, we come to Everett Gee Jackson, whose prior LEC contribution was for the American folktale The Wonderful Adventures of Paul Bunyan in 1945, and his style works well for “The Ugly Duckling”. We’ve featured his other commissions before, the most recent being The Popoh Vuh in 2017. I’ll let his publication history from an earlier post on Paul Bunyan talk about the rest of his career with Macy.

The Quarto provides the following production details:

Note that “Ali Baba” was designed by Ernest Ingham and printed in London; this is a key I’ll get to shortly.


Title Pages – “Ali Baba” was translated from the original Arabic into French by J.C. Mardrus, and subsequently translated into English by E. Powys Mathers. Hersholt translated Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” from Danish to English (probably pulling from his earlier LEC Andersen), while P.H. Muir translated Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty” from French into English.

Colophon – These are #1993 of 2500, and Hersholt signed the colophon for all but “Ali Baba”. I wonder if this was because it was handled by a different designer and published in London versus the US as the others? Ardizzone did sign that book, however. Jackson joined Hersholt on “Ugly Duckling”. Unfortunately, Sauvage had passed away well before the time this set was issued. This shows how early these were in the production cycle — Sauvage died in 1948, and these were not issued until late 1949, but it’s a healthy amount of illustrations!

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

Volume 4: King Midas & the Golden Touch, Pandora’s Box, The Emperor’s New Clothes
Illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg
Rafaello Busoni, Ervine Metzl
LEC #222/21st Series V. 2 in 1952

Click images to see larger views.

Spines – There is a lot less color diversity in this set than the other two I own, but that’s okay when the bindings are considerably nicer than the last set:

Front Bindings (in the order they are listed on the slipcase label)

“King Midas” in particular is my favorite in this set and second overall; it’s so classy! “Pandora” has a textured binding in contrast to the others feeling slick to the touch, and “Emperor” is perhaps the most avant-garde in the entire Series, with a distinct rebellious orientation that defies layout conventions.

Fritz Eichenberg was called in for “King Midas”, which he does with splendor. He abandons his usual woodcutting techniques for colored lithographs, which works very well for the tale. Of course, I’ve covered Eichenberg plenty on the blog before as he is one of my favorite all-time illustrators; he was last seen in the Heritage reprint of Reynard the Fox back in 2017, with a look at his career in The Brothers Karamazov post. Rafaello Busoni got his second LEC commission here following The Red and the Black in 1947, which is conveniently the last time I covered him as well way back in 2011 (I need to update that post with Busoni’s bibliography!). Ervine Metzl only contributed his artistry to “Emperor” to the LEC.

The Quarto provides the following production details:


Title Pages – “King Midas” and “Pandora’s Box” both come from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, called there “The Golden Touch” and “The Paradise of Children”. “Emperor”, meanwhile, is another Andersen tale translated by Hersholt.

Colophon – These are #1993 of 2500, and Hersholt signed the colophon for all three to the Cutler children. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the Cutlers, but I can at least suspect that these three sets with the same limitation all went to that family.

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

Volume 5: Bluebeard, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk
Illustrated by
Hans Bendix, Henry C. Pitz, Malcolm Cameron
LEC #228/21st Series V. 8 in 1952


Personal Notes – I bought the first set from Powell’s Books online when they had a sale, and I wanted to give this a test as they had the third and fourth sets available as well but didn’t apply to the sale. When I received the set, I was incredibly pleased by the condition and I took the risk in the hopes all of them would be so nice! And hey, I was right! These have always been on a wish list for me since I saw the second set at Carpe Diem years ago, and while I couldn’t afford that set then I knew I wanted to have them all eventually. As of today, I’m 60% there! Haha. It’s super cool that these three are all from the same limitation, too!

In 2021 I acquired the second set from a library non-profit with an Amazon storefront for a remarkably good deal. While it’s a bit sunned and has a smoky smell, the interiors are in excellent condition, so I’m happy to be one step closer to having all of these lovely sets!

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1933/1950)

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1933)
LEC #48, 4th Series, V. 12
Artwork: Illustrations by Enric-Cristobal Ricart
Translated and introduced by John Ormsby
LEC did a second edition of this work in 1950; see below for this edition.
#1384 of 1500

Click images for larger views.


The Spanish classic to end all of their classics, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote, is today’s subject once again now that I have ALL of the variants. The original post focused on the second LEC and its Heritage reprint, but I want to add in the 1933 exclusive for comparative purposes.

The Limited Editions Club seemingly liked this work more than others, as this is the first time the Club dipped into that well with this 1933 LEC exclusive that featured the illustration talents of Enric-Cristobal Ricart, and was distributed in two volumes. As you’ll see below, Edy Legrand stepped into the artist role in 1950 for a second treatment. Cervantes is best known for this mighty novel, one of the earliest and most famous in all of literature. Don Quixote’s misadventures are legendary and even coined the term “quixotic”, an adjective meaning “exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical.” Which is pretty much what the good Don is tragically all about. The LEC did not touch his other work, but two incredible productions of his iconic fiction is certainly a testament to its quality.

This edition is all about Spain, which is fitting given its author’s Spanish roots. It was designed, printed and illustrated in Spain on Spanish paper; only the binding was handled in the United States. The art for this edition was by wood engraver Enric-Cristobal Ricart, a well regarded artist in his home country. Ricart would make one more stop in the annals of the George Macy Company with his contribution to the LEC Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra a few years later. He is also known as Enric Cristòfol Ricart, which seems the more popular search term online. He passed away in 1960.

Design Notes: From the Quarto-Millenary:

quixote 33






As noted, John Ormsby serves as the translator and also introduces this edition.


Colophon – This is #1384 of 1500 with Ricart’s signature.

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

Personal Notes – Not too long after acquiring the later LEC, I was offered the opportunity to purchase the original edition from a Devotee, NYCFAddict (who I got quite the haul from last year!). This is a really nice copy; many of the sheets to protect the pages from the illustrations bleeding are still inside!

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1950)
LEC #209, 20th Series, V. 1
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Translated by John Ormsby, Introduced by Irwin Edman
Heritage Press reprinted this in 1951; see below for this edition.
#893 of 1500

Click images for larger views.

In 1945, long time George Macy Company alum Edy Legrand (see The Nibelungenlied for his complete Macy bibliography) expressed his interest in illustrating a second Don Quixote to Macy. Macy relates in the Sandglass for the Heritage edition that Legrand, although a Frenchman of birth, had adopted Spain as his second nationality, and wished to challenge himself at the proposition of rendering the greatest Spanish literary work. After reviewing some early sketches, Macy agreed, and Legrand went to work, creating 200 individual illustrations as a first draft; his final submission was 48 full page pen/dry brush drawings, submitted five years later. This would be the last time Cervantes would be printed by the LEC or Heritage Press.

Legrand’s drawings feature color in the LEC edition; as you’ll see below, the Heritage went grayscale with their reproductions.

Design Notes: From the Quarto-Millenary:

A curio: Macy says that this edition of Quixote features the “self-same text” from the 1933 publication, which is true — translator John Ormsby served as the translator for both, although Ormsby introduced the original printing, which he does not perform here (a preface is included to his translation here). However, Harry Block did reinvent the typography and formatting, so it is not a mirror image of the earlier 1933 book…not to mention the switch from Ricart to Legrand on the illustration front.

Cervantes’ native Spain was apparently not an option for this edition (the 1933 edition was at Oliva de Vilanova in Barcelona), which is a bit of a shame, but Macy felt Mexico was a solid enough alternative.  The Heritage had the prints sent to the Meriden Gravure Company.



As noted, Ormsby returned as the translator for the text, but a new introduction was written by Irwin Edman for this edition. Legrand’s striking portrait of its protagonist greets the reader upon opening. Ormsby did his translation in 1885, but the Club felt his was the most scholarly choice for their readers. There’s quite a bit of talk about Samuel Putnam in the Sandglass, whose translation of Quixote was just released (and its publishers urged Macy to consider it for his second LEC edition!), but the ultimate decision was to pass on it due to an earlier transaction with Putnam. In 1928, Macy acquired a three volume work of Rabelais that Putnam translated, and found that the work did not hold up a decade later. Thus, the decision to continue with Ormsby.

Colophon – This is #893 of 1500. Legrand’s signature is notably absent here — there was a run of books where he was unable to provide his signature. This may have been due to his choice to live in Morocco for an extended period during the 1940s and 50s, likely to escape the chaos of Europe in the midst of war. Twenty Years After may be the first LEC he did actually sign, which was issued in 1958.

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

Personal Notes – I’d spent YEARS looking for a good copy of Quixote. The Heritage below I picked up about five years ago, but the LEC recently came into my possession courtesy of my book benefactor sharing it with me to document here and give a good home. I’m very happy to have this one in my collection!

Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1951)
Sandglass Number VI:16
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Translated by John Ormsby, Introduced by Irwin Edman
Reprint of LEC #209, 20th Series, V. 1, in 1951 in 2 volumes.


Front Binding – Now for the Heritage edition, which is very nicely presented as well.

The year is unstated here, but GMD member featherwate passed along this info about its publication:

Jerry, it was the selection for November 1951, coming between The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche illustrated by Edmund Dulac and Gray’s Elegy (Agnes Miller Parker). In fact, illustrator-wise this was one heckuva series (Series 16 June 1951 to May 1952). As well as Dulac and AMP it included among others Fritz Eichenberg (Crime & Punishment), Hugo Steiner-Prag (Tales of Hoffman), Valenti Angelo (Sonnets from the Portuguese) and Edward A. Wilson (Jekyll and Hyde) – quite an array!

As for George Macy saying he read the Rabelais 25 years before, I guess he was just rounding up to a neat figure. As he does in the Quixote Sandglass where he refers to it as a book of “nearly eight hundred pages”. I think it’s actually 682! Never mind the length – it’s the quality that matters!

Of course, the nearly eight hundred pages likely refers to the LEC page count; the reduction to a single volume likely trimmed a fair amount of extra pages.

Design Notes – As noted above, this was originally set and printed at the Imprenta Nuevo Mundo for the LEC issuing, and the Heritage copyright page states that it was done there for its printing. Legrand’s artwork was reproduced by Paris’ Georges Duval, who then sent the prints to the Meriden Gravure Company for the Heritage run. The binding is also an international affair — bright yellow cloth from England, marbled papers for the boards from France. The bindery is absent here, alas, but the LEC was done by the standards at Russell-Rutter; it’s safe to suppose they had their hands in this edition, too.


Slipcase – The paper for this slipcase is from Italy.


Title Page – Pretty close to the LEC edition!

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

Personal Notes – Before this copy came into my life, I’d not had the greatest luck acquiring this book. The two copies I saw before this one were in horrendous condition and curiously overpriced. Luckily, I came across this one around 2013 in Dublin, CA at Half Price Books, which was complete and in very good condition save a prior owner’s nom de plume on the front endpaper. The price was right at about $10, too, so I snagged it. Of course, with the LEC now in my possession, I will be passing this along.

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

Updated 7/17/2021 ~ JF

Limited Editions Club: Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles M. Doughty (1953)

Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles M. Doughty (1953)
LEC #231/21st Series V. 11 in 1953
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Introduced by T.E. Lawrence, edited by Edward Garnett
LEC #801 of 1500. Heritage Press reissued.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Hello! This month brings not tales of terror but instead the memoirs of Charles Doughty and his time in the Arabic countries, Travels in Arabia Deserta. Doughty was an Englishman who was seemingly down on his luck and decided to travel to Damascus to try his hands at adventuring. The resulting journey, taking place over several years in the 1870s and put to pen in 1888, initially was issued to little fanfare. However, noted author and adventurer T.E. Lawrence discovered the book after it had been edited by Edward Garnett in 1908, bringing it the fame it never saw upon its first publication. Lawrence’s praise gave Doughty’s travel biography a new life, shining a light on his time with the Bedouin people and his positive impact on the people of the region. This is the sole work of Doughty the LEC would produce, and the Heritage Press did reissue this one.

In 1953, George Macy brought the Lawrence approved and Garnett edited edition to LEC subscribers under his own design, featuring the artistic chops of Edy Legrand, who himself was on a pilgrimage to the Arabian Peninsula and produced sketches of sights he observed, creating an epic travelogue of two different individuals through their own preferred tools of the trade — Doughty in word and Legrand in art. Check out The Nibelungenlied for his complete Macy bibliography.

This binding is distinct in that it “folds” over like a journal, and spotlight a beautiful series of Legrand illustrations and decor that pop. Jeanyee Wong returns to handle the calligraphic designs appearing here and the decadent map on the title page, following her work in All Men are Brothers. To my knowledge, it was not issued with a slipcase.

Design Notes – Macy, as noted above, served as the designer:


Back Cover

Title Page – I really adore the map motif Wong produced for the title page! As I observed above, T.E. Lawrence provides an introduction (I am not sure if this is entirely new for the LEC or reused from the 1920 reprint Lawrence pushed to publication), and Garnett’s abridgement and prefatory note were used over the original Doughty produced in 1888.

Colophon – This is #801 of 1500, and was issued unsigned. Legrand was out and about for a stretch in the 1950s, and did not sign several of the LECs he was involved with during this time frame.

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

Personal Notes – I ordered this book from Moe’s Books as I’ve always found this to be a fascinating binding (having seen a copy before when I was unable to procure it), and I love Legrand’s work, so adding another of his to my collection was a no-brainer.

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)


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!

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!