May 28, 2016 § 2 Comments
Hey, remember the trivia category? Well, I’m bringing it back. This time, let’s examine who George Macy and the subsequent owners of the Limited Editions Club commissioned the most over the Club’s long tenure!
10) Sylvain Sauvage (7)
Sauvage illustrated several French classics for the LEC, including Cyrano de Bergerac, The History of Zadig (pictured), and two works of Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard and At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque. He also handled As You Like It in the LEC Shakespeare.
9) Rene ben Sussan (8)
ben Sussan had two commissions of Honore de Balzac, rendering the worlds of Old Goriot and Eugenie Grandet as part of his eight titles for the LEC. He also had a hand in English drama, providing art for Jonson’s Volpone, the Fox and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Pictured is The Chronicle of the Cid.
8) John Austen (8)
Several British works were illustrated by Austen: Vanity Fair (pictured), The Comedy of Errors, The Faerie Queene, The Pickwick Club, and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. He also branched out a little with Aristophanes’ The Birds.
7) Agnes Miller Parker (8)
The sole woman on our list, Parker’s exquisite woodcuts brought life to all of Thomas Hardy’s novels printed by the Club, as well as The Faerie Queene (pictured), Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard, Richard the Second, and The Poems of Shakespeare.
6) T.M. Cleland (8)
A talented designer as well as artist, Cleland’s artistic gifts were displayed a little less frequently, but often enough to earn a place on our list. Some of his works include The Decameron, The History of Tom Jones, The Way of the World, She Stoops to Conquer and The Life and Times of Tristan Shandy, Gentleman. Pictured is Monsieur Beauclaire.
5) Valenti Angelo (12)
The simplistic yet stylistic grace of Angelo graced a dozen books of the LEC, and several of them are masterworks of literature: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The House of the Seven Gables, The Books of a Thousand Nights and a Night, Songs of the Portuguese, and several religious texts, like The Koran, The Book of Proverbs and The Book of Psalms. Pictured is The Song of Roland.
4) Lynd Ward (13)
Ward’s thirteen contributions mark him as one of the most prominent illustrators for Macy, and he didn’t even work on the LEC Shakespeare like the majority of the others on this list! Ward’s commissions ranged from non-fiction works such as Rights of Man and On Conciliation with America to fantastical works such as Beowulf and Idylls of the King to contemporary works like The Innocent Voyage (pictured) and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
3) Fritz Eichenberg (15)
The gifted Eichenberg worked the longest stretch of any of our artists; his first commission was 1939’s Richard the Third for the LEC Shakespeare to 1986’s The Diary of a Country Priest. One of the few to work under late Club owner Sid Shiff, Eichenberg’s output left the LEC a lasting legacy that is difficult to ignore. Best known for his work on the Russian legends of literature, including Eugene Onegin, Crime and Punishment (pictured), Fathers and Sons, and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth.
2) Edward A. Wilson (17)
Wilson was productive, to say the least; he even had his own Heritage volume detailing his artwork! Among the many classics he brought visual splendor to are Westward Ho! (pictured), Treasure Island, The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
1) Fritz Kredel (20)
And finally we come to Fritz Kredel, the king of illustrating for the LEC with a massive twenty volumes! Many collections of fairy tales were conjured by Kredel, including both Andersen (pictured) and the Brothers Grimm. Two Shakespeares, two Trollopes, two Twains, Thackeray, Darwin, Austen, Plato and Heine were among the literary giants Kredel decorated for Macy, and his talent was certainly up to such a diverse palette of books.
Next time, we’ll explore the most frequent Heritage Press artists in terms of their exclusives. We’ll see how many of these artisans cross over!
June 25, 2015 Comments Off on Hertiage Press – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)
Sandglass Number 7 GRS
Artwork: Drawings by Fritz Eichenberg and Paintings by Vassily Verestchagin
Introduced, Translated and with Notes by Louise and Alymer Maude
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own edition of War and Peace in 1938. This edition borrows the revised translation done by the Maudes.
Click images for larger views.
Front Bindings – Hello again, everyone! It’s nice to be back. And this is my first post in my new home. Funny how this doesn’t feel any different, and yet…this is the first time I’ve not lived in my home town. So many other parts of my life are so radically different from before, but it’s comforting to know that writing here is a little nostalgic in its own strange way…Anyway, you’re not here necessarily to read about my life changes. Let’s get to brass tacks and discuss a monstrous two volume set that stars two illustrators: the Heritage War and Peace.
War and Peace is arguably the great Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus; the George Macy Company agreed with this sentiment, publishing two versions of the classic, one for each publishing house (which was also done with Anna Karenina, but gave that particular book two LEC editions instead). The LEC received a six volume set in 1938, decorated by the esteemed Barnett Freedman (who also did the art for Anna Karenina). The Heritage Press, meanwhile, received this two volume set later in 1943, starring another prominent illustrator of Russian texts, Fritz Eichenberg. Eichenberg wasn’t alone on this edition, however; Macy licensed the paintings of Russian painter Vassily Verestchagin, who was at the time unpublished in the United States, to decorate the battle-filled second half of the book. Eichenberg is primarily reserved for the first volume. Before you get super excited, though, Eichenberg left his woodcutting tools out of the equation for this commission, and instead went with a simpler inked line approach for his artistry. It’s certainly adequate, but may not be as well-received as his exquisite woodcuts and lithographs that grace other Macy volumes. Tolstoy and Eichenberg would meet twice more (with his patented woodblocks) in the future for the LEC, with Resurrection and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth seeing his flourish in 1963 and 1974, respectively.
Design details are most abridged in this set; one page of the Sandglass is spent on the cast of the book, forcing Macy to gloss over most of the publication details. Perhaps World War II (which was in full swing at this point) caused the book to be printed in-house entirely? The boards are covered in a “silky maroon linen”, with gold leaf (mine appears silver) for Eichenberg’s design and for the spine’s text. Eichenberg contributed forty drawings, and Verestchagin’s paintings were taken from the Napoleonic campaigns collection at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. And…that’s all I can give you. However, Django6924 had plenty to say about the book’s release date, as well as an interesting story about Freedman (I had originally mentioned that Freedman died in 1958, and had supposed that this release followed his death):
Jerry, your Sandglass is the same as mine and dates from the initial HP release in 1943. When War and Peace was re-issued in 1951, it was in a single volume and the Sandglass didn’t have any details on the production either.
In your article you mention that since Freedman died in 1958, that this edition dates from then. It is one of those little details that make the collecting of HP editions a fascinating game of detective work! In fact, this statement proves how strange things were for Macy during the war, and how much confusion existed in those days before satellite communications. In fact, Macy, and many others, I’m sure, believed that Freedman had died serving as a War Artist–having been sent to France in April 1940 to record the work of the BEF–either during the near-disaster of Dunkirk, or being lost when the Bismarck sank HMS Hood, with with virtually the entire ship’s company.
Freedman was nearly lost at Dunkirk when he left the complement of War Artists to retrieve the one painting he had completed before the Germans forced the evacuation. As told in the wonderful book The Sketchbook War: Saving the Nation’s Artists in World War II (which features the exploits of several LEC illustrators), Freedman had “a last defiant meal on French soil before leaving the burning city–three bottles of champagne and a tin of bully beef” before getting on an ammunition boat which brought him to England. After this, he was posted, not on HMS Hood as Macy thought, but on HMS Repulse, which was one of the ships that sank the Bismarck. This is undoubtedly the origin on the comment “late, great painter” in the 1943 War and Peace Sandglass and the comment in the 1951 War and Peace Sandglass that Freedman was a survivor of the sinking of the Hood (in fact there were only two survivors) and a survivor of Dunkirk.
Isn’t that fascinating? Once again, World War II wrecks havoc on Macy’s plans, much like it did with Oedipus the King, This is the Hour, and Le Fleurs de Mal, among others. At least this one had a happy ending, and Freedman lived through his trials as a war painter (to ultimately come back and do Anna Karenina!). Funny how this post has been a bit of a circle, and how War and Peace seems to be an actual theme to the events of Macy’s artists, too!
Title Page – The text is taken from the LEC edition of War and Peace, which featured a modified translation by noted Tolstoy scholars Louise and Aylmer Maude. The latter also provides an introduction and many notes to the text. Macy made plenty of his own notes of how this is an exclusive to his printing houses, so he must have had some pride in acquiring it.
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg and Verestchagin (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This is a set I’ve wanted for some time, and it came in the bunch of Heritage titles I acquired from the Oakhurst Library. Still need to read it, though.
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):
March 27, 2015 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1951/1941)
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1951)
LEC #212/20th Series V. 4 in 1951
Artwork: Wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett. Preface by John T. Winterich.
LEC #734 of 1500; Upgrade of the Heritage exclusive Fathers and Sons, issued in 1941 (see below)
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Hello, everyone! The hiatus is indeed over. I think I just needed something to kickstart my interest in posting about books, and apparently acquiring a few new titles does that!
Today is the second and final work of Ivan Turgenev’s output for the Limited Editions Club, Fathers and Sons. In case you missed the first post on the Cardevon Press published The Torrents of Spring, click this link. This is also the third time we’ve covered a LEC that came from a Heritage Press exclusive! The two earlier instances we’ve documented include Crime and Punishment and The Diary of Moll Flanders. The former shares a connection with this book in its illustrator; yes, that ever-so-frequent artist of many of the Macy Russian novels — and personal favorite — Fritz Eichenberg. The German-born Eichenberg seemed to have a knack for conjuring up the right mood for the works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin and now Turgenev; the only Russian masters he missed were Gogol and Chekhov. I’ve documented Eichenberg’s extensive career for Macy and the subsequent LEC handlers here.
So, with Turgenev and Eichenberg thoroughly covered, let’s get into the production details. The Heritage original came out in 1941 (the first illustrated edition of the work, even!), and the LEC decided to try their own spin on the classic as well in 1951 (curious how both Crime and Punishment and Fathers and Sons took exactly ten years for Macy to come to the decision to upgrade the Heritage to a LEC; I’ll have to check on Moll Flanders). The illustrations for this edition were taken directly from Eichenberg’s woodblocks, which he had fortunately retained during the decade following the original publication (the Heritage original used electroplating to reproduce the artwork and text for cost management purposes). The Heritage was composed and printed by A. Colish on Worthy Paper Company paper, and bound by the ever-reliable Russell-Rutter. The LEC edition, on the other hand, was handed over to the Spiral Press and Joseph Blumenthal for its execution. The letter notes that The Lyrics of Francois Villon (1931), Sister Carrie (1938), The Pilgrim’s Progress (1940), and Spoon River Anthology (1941) were previously done by the Press, but World War II made Blumenthal to shut down the printing shop in order to join the fight, and only after its conclusion and subsequent resetting of shop could he once more print books. Blumenthal designed the LEC edition with the Scotch font, which was printed on Curtis Paper Company paper (“Curtis Rag”, to be specific). Eichenberg contributed the chapter flourishes, printed in a gray ink. The illustrations were printed on Japanese “wood-block” paper, a light paper that works quite well to make Eichenberg’s scenes pop on the page. The Spiral Press also handled this business. The bindery is absent, but the text suggests to me that Blumenthal handled that, too. Eichenberg supplied a new illustration to be brass-stamped onto the black buckram front board; the back is lacking the art, but keeps the cloth. The spine is a natural buckram, with a leather block featuring the title done in gold leaf, which Eichenberg also supplied.
Title Page – Constance Garnett’s translations are once more summoned for this particular work; it’s a rare instance when she is not the translator of a Russian text. Heritage Press/LEC board member John T. Winterich takes over Preface duties.
Colophon – Eichenberg signs this edition, and this is #734 of 1500 copies.
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I took a bit of a gamble on this work, as I ordered it online from ABEBooks. It looked fantastic from the store-supplied photos, and the price of $25 (with shipping) for a complete edition was too good to pass up. Luckily, the book is as advertised, and I’m giddy at having my third Eichenberg LEC.
LEC Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Now let’s take a look at the Heritage original…
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1941)
Sandglass Number 4E
Artwork: Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett. Preface by John T. Winterich.
Originally a Heritage Press exclusive; upgraded in 1951 to a LEC.
Front Binding – Django6924 contributes the following info and photographs of his Heritage copy:
…the 1941 edition of Turgenev’s Fathers & Sons, which came about, according to Sandglass 4E, because of the astounding popularity of the earlier HP original Crime & Punishment, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. The HP subscribers apparently clamored for another Russian novel illustrated by Eichenberg, and though it seems odd the one they chose was Fathers & Sons, it was, to quote the Bard, “a hit! A palpable hit!” — so much so that, as it did with the Dostoevsky novel, the LEC issued its own Fathers & Sons 10 years later with these same illustrations. The LEC version is very nice, with a beautiful paper and a more sober binding design, but I must say I prefer the HP’s binding, and since I have both, I can vouch that the reproductions of Eichenberg’s wood engravings are just as good here as in the LEC — identical to my eyes. The typography is also superb…The novel itself is of major importance in Russian literature, and Turgenev’s best-known. (Please excuse the quality of the photography — everything was shot under available light as my studio lights are all in storage.)
The Sandglass (4E) does not mention the designer other than saying it was intended to be a “companion volume” to the HP Crime and Punishment, so I would assume the designer of that edition, Carl Purington Rollins, deserves the credit, though I suspect if anyone did the actual design it was George Macy.
The production details are below:
Title – Winterich is not credited on the title page as he is in the LEC, but he does have a preface here. These pages were totally redesigned for the LEC run; of note is the drastically different title font and color.
Examples of the Heritage Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Big thanks to Django6924 for the use of his book, Sandglass, info and photography for the Heritage half of this post.
August 28, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’m quite pleased to be share what I think is one of the treasures of my non-Macy book collection today: the Random House issuing of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, released in 1943. The star of the show is Fritz Eichenberg, who once again produces masterpieces of wood engraving to grace the texts of Emily and Charlotte Bronte, respectively. Why George Macy never negotiated to release fancy LEC editions of these exquisite renditions is beyond me; I’m still stumped as to why the Bronte sisters never had LEC editions in the various Macy’s tenure (or under Cardevon Press’ eye, for that matter). Sid Shiff would resurrect Balthus’ Wuthering Heights illustrations for his own edition in 1993, giving at least one sister the literary credence she deserved; Chris over at Books & Vines has a thorough post on that edition. Perhaps Macy wasn’t too big on the Brontes. Personally, I’m sad that Anne Bronte tends to be forgotten in these special sets…but that’s neither here nor there.
The Heritage Press did issue these two books with art from Barrett Freedman, but in my humble opinion Freedman is outclassed handily by Eichenberg’s amazing artwork. I’ll try to check out the two HP titles for comparison some time. At any rate, these books were designed by Richard Ellis (who I just rambled about for The Ambassadors), using Monotype Bodoni for the font (with long descenders). Kingsport Press composed the text, and H. Wolff Book Manufacturing Company handled both printing and bindery duties. Eichenberg’s engravings were printed via letter press from electrotypes of the originals. If only all of these non-Macy books were so upfront about their publication details!
Let’s start with Wuthering Heights.
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Now let’s spotlight Jane Eyre:
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Spines of both books; slipcase is green.
I’m being a little less talky on this post due to time; I’ve got a lot of other things to do today, but I think it’s fairly clear that I love these two books and they come highly recommended!
August 12, 2013 Comments Off on Of Interest: A Smattering of Non-Macy Books with LEC Illustrators #1
Hello all! Today I will be sharing five (!) books with you. These are non-Macy editions of several classic works, illustrated by some of the more prominent LEC illustrators. Three will be debuting today: Eric Gill, Boardman Robinson and Edward A. Wilson. The remaining two feature artists I’ve recently covered on the blog, Fritz Eichenberg and William Sharp. These are not my books; my good friend Lois was kind enough to let me borrow them to photograph them. Unfortunately, most of these are reprints of Random House or Doubleday editions, so I do not have designer info for them. With that in mind, I’ll be quickly summarizing their attributes, offering a brief opinion, and providing images for them. With that, let’s begin!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg, translated by Constance Garnett, published by Garden City Publishing Co. in 1948 from the 1944 Doubleday edition.
Eichenberg does not utilize the engraver’s tools for this commission; instead, he goes with his linework, and it’s a good match. I do greatly prefer his wood and stone cuts, but I think his penmanship is also pretty spectacular. Compare this to Freedman’s LEC/Heritage take.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, illustrated by William Sharp, published by Garden City Publishing Co. in 1948 from the 1944 Doubleday edition.
Sharp takes on Collins’ famous novel with a combination of his styles used for the Macy editions of Tales of Mystery and Imagination and the biographical works of Rousseau and Pepys here. There are full page illustrations that remind me of the Poe commission, as well as many supplementary in-text drawings a la the biographies. There’s some astounding stuff in here, I must say. I haven’t seen Dignimont’s spin for the LEC, but I have covered his work for The Wanderer.
Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Edward A. Wilson, introduced by Henry Seidel Canby, published by Doubleday in 1947
This may be some of Wilson’s best work I’ve personally seen. Of course, I’ve yet to share any of his Macy contributions with you, but I plan on remedying that when I get the time. Excellent printing, too! Wilson did too many LEC and Heritage books to list here, but I’ll include three that I own for reference; Treasure Island, Westward Ho! and A Journey to the Center of the Earth. The LEC edition was illustrated by Boyd Hanna.
Troilus and Cressida by Geoffrey Chaucer, illustrated by Eric Gill, translated by George Philip Krapp, printed by the Literary Guild in 1932 from the 1932 Random House edition.
Gill does a rather fine job here if you ask me. His woodcuts evoke the essence of the work of Chaucer quite well, and they embellish every page. There’s a few full-size pieces, too. I’d like to see the Random House issuing! Gill did the original LEC Hamlet and A Sentimental Journey of France and Italy. The LEC Troilus lacks conventional illustration, but is decorated by George W. Jones.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, illustrated by Boardman Robinson, translated by Constance Garnett, published by Halcyon House in 1940 from the 1933 Random House edition.
I must admit that Robinson does not do much for me. His style clashes with my personal tastes. I’ve seen his LEC commission for Spoon River Anthology (a tragic copy that was overpriced for its shoddy condition, despite author Edgar Lee Masters contributing his signature) and despite being a big fan of the work, his art doesn’t really mesh with me. He also did the LEC Moby Dick. Contrast this to the two Macy editions of Karamazov.
August 10, 2013 Comments Off on Of Interest: Random House’s Edition of Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination
The second “Outside the Macy Sphere” book post is on Random House’s exquisite 1944 issuing of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, here simply titled Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. While the mystery and imagination have been exorcised from the title here, Fritz Eichenberg did his best through his woodcuts here to represent those fantastical notions. H. Wolff Book Manufacturing Company of New York printed up the work, and Margaret B. Evans served as the designer.
Front Binding – This is a nice, medium-sized book that was originally issued with a light blue slipcase, featuring a nice cerulean (if I’m mistaken, I apologize; I’m unfortunately quite familiar with the Crayola color wheel :0 ) fabric with black and gold stamps for the spine (as you’ll see below).
Title Page – Harvey Allen introduces the work, and, of course, Mr. Eichenberg serves up several woodcut illustrations that spice up most of the tales. He did one per tale from what I’ve noticed. Unfortunately, I do not have as many crisp shots as I would like for this post; only four of the six turned out really well, so I’ll likely add in a couple more whenever I photograph more books in the future.
Example Woodcuts by Eichenberg (right click to enlarge):
For contrast with the Macy publication, see here. Out of the two, I think both William Sharp and Eichenberg bring a chilling tone to their artwork in their own ways. I am quite fond of Eichenberg, as is well stated throughout this blog, but I feel Sharp also grasped the underlying terror and darkness swirling about Poe’s stories. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either edition!
November 11, 2012 § 6 Comments
The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1959)
Sandglass Number: XII:24
Artwork: Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett and Avrahm Yarmolinsky (Stavrogin’s Confession), introduced by Marc Slonim
Reprint of LEC #305, 38th Series, V. 2 in 1959
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Welcome to November, friends of the blog! School is beginning to wind down a little, so I am feeling I can squeeze out a post for our final Reader Request for 2012 with little repercussion. Today is yet another Dostoevsky novel, The Possessed. And yes, it’s once again illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. Even the Sandglass pokes fun at this seemingly perpetual pairing. Both have their publishing careers thoroughly detailed in the last post to see their combined talents, The Brothers Karamazov.
So, with a ton of history already covered, I can focus on this particular issuing. Eichenberg did engravings for this book, yet the Sandglass fails to describe if they were wood or stone ones. The reprint quality lacks the sharpness of the woodcuts done for Crime and Punishment, but is more in line with the Karamazov stone lithographs. Of course, this means little if the printers failed to do the job properly, which could be the case. The reproduction and reprinting of Eichenberg’s art fell to The Meriden Gravure Company, one I personally am not familiar with. Django6924 offers some thoughts on the matter:
I checked the illustrations above against the ones in my LEC copy and did not see a great difference with the exception of the reproduction of the illustration of the Gadarene swine. Although the bulk of the illustration is a close match for the LEC, the swine in the foreground on the Heritage version are remarkably lighter–indeed, it’s much easier to see the detail of their bristles in the Heritage than in my LEC copy, where the foreground is rather inky. The ground to the right of the swine is also much lighter in the Heritage–in the LEC it is a solid black. The Meriden Gravure Company also did the reproductions of the engravings for the LEC copy, and they have done many other LEC and Heritage volumes.
So, perhaps it was a deliberate choice. I guess I prefer a more black-to-white consistency over a slew of grays.
As for other production information, Peter Oldenberg served as the designer for this work, and apparently he was at the time a mere fifteen miles away from Mr. Eichenberg’s residence. Primer was the font of choice, with bigger titles in Columbia Bold. Smaller titles were rendered in Normande, so font lovers will have three to fawn over in this one. Printing duties were handled by Case, Lockwood and Brainard of Hartford, Connecticut, Russell-Rutter once more bound the book, and its pages were supplied by Crocker-Burbank Company.
Title Page – Constance Garnett’s the unsurprising choice for translator, although a suppressed chapter she omitted has been restored to the LEC/Heritage edition, translated by Avrahm Yarmolinsky, who has contributed to the club before for Karamazov and Eugene Onegin. Marc Slonin offers up an introduction. Eichenberg’s art here is relatively well printed, but the two below seem faded or faint to me. Judge for yourselves!
Page 26 – Despite my quibbles about the printing, Eichenberg continues to shine artistically.
Personal Notes – I got this from Bookhaven in Monterey if my memory serves me well. Yes, that was the “secret shop” I’ve referred to in years past. Alas, they were concluding their business days when I last was in town with no money and no time to go see them, and I will miss them greatly. As I mentioned before, expect a eulogy at some point, as they were a vital source of my overall collection.