January 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
LEC #292/27th Series V. 1 in 1958
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduced by Angela Thirkell
#403 of 1500.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding –Happy 2018 everyone! I am not entirely sure how frequent this blog will see updates without any new books to spotlight beyond this one at present, but I will continue to post new titles that come into my hands as they enter my library — I promise you that!
Our first post in 2018 is not the first for either author nor artist; in fact, we’ve spotlighted them both TOGETHER way back when with the Heritage reprint of The Warden, which predated this book by three years. We’ve even done the Heritage edition of this book, which I had totally forgotten about until I was midway through typing this up! For now, I’ll keep them separate but will eventually merge them together. Anthony Trollope would only see these two works printed by the Limited Editions Club, with both decorated by Fritz Kredel’s graceful hand. As for Fritz, he hasn’t been spotlighted since 2013’s post on The Decameron, so it’s nice to welcome him back, especially since he was the most utilized of all illustrators by George Macy and his family over the LEC tenure. This is a very representative example of his output; expertly done and apropos of the story within. For his entire LEC/Heritage bibloiography, see here.
Design Notes – Designer Richard Ellis was recruited to continue the tradition he established with The Warden (a theme for this book, as we will see shortly). Ellis is no stranger to the blog at this point; I even reposted a complete LEC/Heritage bibliography just for him from Devotee featherwate! We last saw his work with the Heritage exclusive The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The font chosen was Bell (much like The Warden), which was printed by Clarke & Way on Curtis paper. The letter makes a note about the paper being infused with titanium to minimize showthrough. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter binded the project, with a black levant-grain leather with Kredel supplying a decoration stamped in gold leaf alongside the title and publisher. The boards have a patterned paper, and it seems to be radically different batches used midway through as I’ve seen two copies of this LEC and they did not share the same paper! Kredel’s artwork was reproduced via gravures by the Photogravure and Color Company and subsequently colored by Walter Fischer’s studio. Each of the forty drawings had four separate stencils created for each to maximize closeness to Kredel’s originals. These stencils were then carefully used to color each illustration by hand to match up. More can be seen in the Letter below!
Title Page – Angela Thirkell, who also provided a preface for The Warden, steps back in to provide the same treatment for this book. Trollope’s two books essentially had the exact same crew backing them, which is sort of unique for the Club. The big selling point of the LEC upgrade is the upgrade to Kredel’s colors, which the Heritage reprint does not come close in replicating:
As was frequent in Heritage reprints of this era, the color choice was radically simplified.
Colophon – This is copy 403 of 1500 and signed by Kredel. My first LEC from him!
Examples of the Illustrations by Kredel (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I picked this up for store credit as Old Capitol Books in Monterey when I was down there for Christmas…this is like the 15th LEC of theirs I’ve bought I’m pretty sure. I’ll have to check one of these days…
I will update this with the Heritage edition for comparative purposes very soon!
LEC Newsletter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
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 1, 2013 § 1 Comment
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1940)
Sandglass Number 11L
Artwork: Woodcuts by Fritz Kredel
Introduced by Edward Hutton, translated by Anonymous in 1620
Also printed as a special two volume LEC in a limitation of 530 copies, signed by Kredel. The LEC first published The Decameron in 1930, #7 of Series 1, featuring the artwork of T.M. Cleland and the modern English translation of Francis Winwar.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Ah, weekly updates! How droll.
Anyway, The Decameron is our next highlight of the Heritage Press. A little background on the book’s publishing history is in order! In the very first series of the Limited Editions Club, The Decameron was produced with T.M. Cleland’s design (no art this time) and a modern verse translation by Francis Winwar. When the Heritage Press got going, George Macy wanted to revisit The Decameron for that readership. Macy had released a limited run of The Decameron as a special offering to LEC members in 1940, on which this edition is based. He appointed Mr. Fritz Kredel, a man who needs little introduction on this blog by now (but in case you do, here’s a post with his extended tenure working for the Macys), to render period-appropriate decorations to serve as illustrations for this new work. However, despite having copyright over Winwar’s translation, Macy felt that the period-apropos work of Kredel clashed with the modernity of Winwar’s words. So, he went way back to the very first English translation of the text, done anonymously in 1620, to serve as a proper contrast to Kredel’s woodcuts. It also returns two chapters omitted from 1620 that were considered too “racy” back then with a simple modern English translation (no idea if it’s Winwar’s or not). Ultimately, 530 copies of the premium Kredel Decameron were issued to LEC members in 1940, making it the rarest limitation of any Macy-era LEC. There is no Heritage edition of the earlier Cleland/Winwar collaboration.
I’ve included a special bonus in the Sandglass section of the post; an official announcement issued in 1948 regarding the switch of some of the titles in the Heritage program. Now, one will notice rather quickly that 1940 is not the same year as 1948. I can’t explain the inner workings of the Company, but it would appear to me that the LEC edition shipped out in 1940, and that a potential Heritage edition may have been benched until 1948, as Macy sure is making it sound like The Decameron was not issued to the Heritage Press until then. Regardless, it’s a glimpse into the scheduling background that readers rarely get to see in the publishing world, and worth a look for those curious about Macy’s operations.
A final note on the author before we touch on the design; Giovanni Boccaccio published other works beyond The Decameron, but that was all the LEC or Heritage Press offered. Still, it’s always an honor (in my view) to get your work printed twice by the same high-end publishing house.
Design-wise, the design of the type was handled by Mr. Macy himself. Kredel was the designer of the boards. Cloister (main text) and Centaur (title page and other decorative uses) are the fonts. West Virginia Paper Company supplied the paper. That’s as far as the Sandglass and book goes in revealing design elements!
Title Page – A lovely title page that was supposed to reflect the era of the Italian Renaissance; Kredel hit it out of the park, I’d say. Edward Hutton has much to say on the work and the translation in his Introduction.
Examples of the In-text Decorations by Kredel (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I got this as part of my volunteering at Second Time Around Used Books in Merced. The condition is a little rough, and the slipcase is barely together, but the bonus euphemia and scarcity of this book (I’ve only seen this particular copy in a store) made me snag it. I look forward to reading it sometime.
Sandglass and Announcement Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
July 6, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1952)
The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe and others (1952)
Sandglass Number IV:17
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Edited and Introduced by John Carswell, proclaimed the “Definitive” text
Reprint of LEC #221, 21st Series, V. 1 in 1952.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Binding – New York is on top, Connecticut bottom.
The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen, printed twice by the George Macy Company, is a collection of crazy tales of a fictional Baron Munchausen, who came up with some whoppers to tell his distinguished colleagues. Of course, the Baron insists that they were all true. ;) The first printing of the tales was the third book the Limited Editions Club published in 1929, with engravings by John Held Jr. and an introduction by Carl Van Doren. That edition was never reprinted as a Heritage. However, in 1952 the Baron’s whimsical stories were revisited by the LEC, and that particular rendition did get a Heritage edition, the one you now see before you. Fritz Kredel, who is no stranger to this blog, with The Warden, Andersen’s Fairy Tales, The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, Barchester Towers, The Book of Ballads and Four Plays of Marlowe featuring his talents in some fashion.
I commented in Cellini that I would do his full LEC/Heritage commission list in an earlier post, but that was lazy of me to think that I would do that. XD So, I’ll do it now. Fritz Kredel is among the high end of Macy’s contributor list, with an incredible twenty individual jobs for the Limited Editions Club over a forty one year span. That’s a book every two years, and he wasn’t slouching in illustrating for other publishers, either. Busy man! Since this is a massive undertaking, I’m just going to list them:
Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1931)
Slovenly Peter by Mark Twain (1935)
The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (1937)
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1940, Heritage original, only 530 LEC editions issued)
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (1939/1940, part of the LEC Shakespeare)
Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1942)
The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray (1942)
The Republic by Plato (1944)
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamb (Evergreen Tales, 1948)
The Complete Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1949)
King Henry V by William Shakespeare (1951)
The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe (1952)
The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1955)
Poems of Heinrich Heine (1957)
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain (1962)
Emma by Jane Austen (1964)
Four Plays of Christopher Marlowe (1966, with Albert Decaris)
The Book of Ballads (1967)
The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin (1971)
The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (1972)
A fairly diverse list of authors, huh? Kredel passed away in 1973, but he left his impression on the LEC, no question.
The New York edition of the Heritage reprint was designed by both Kredel and George Salter. Salter handled the text, Kredel the illustrations. Salter went with Bell Monotype for the font, and there’s a slew of information on it in the Sandglass below. Kredel’s work in here is drawings colored with water-color inks, created by using hand-cut rubber plates. The Arrow Press was responsible for the illustrations, while The Ferris Printing Company printed up the text. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter fame was the binder. The marbled paper covering the boards were specially made by Jean-Pierre Putois of Paris, with the boards themselves made of English buckram. I know nothing of the Connecticut printing.
Django6924 chips in some additional info:
The Kredel-illustrated Munchausen is a lovely book, and the technique of using hand-cut rubber plates to apply water-color inks is a technique that Macy often employed for the Heritage Press reprints of LEC books which were hand-colored with stencils. I mentioned in an earlier post somewhere that this technique provides beautiful color, and is only inferior to the hand-colored version in that it is a too-perfect application of color–no variations in color value or thickness of application. I prefer it to the half-tone process that many other publishers used for color reproduction–which can produce color variations, but at the cost of the dot-screen “noise.”
Macy was never quite pleased, it seems, with the first LEC Munchausen–principally because he believed the illustrator, John Held, Jr., did not take his job seriously. Actually, it was a bold choice to use Held, who was famous for his comical portraits of flappers and 20s jazz babies and his New Yorker magazine covers to illustrate this piece of Germanic frivolity, and Macy probably thought the chance to do something of more than ephemeral interest would spur Held to create something extraordinary. That he did not is probably true, but what is also true is that viewed today, the illustrations have a good deal of charm and pungency, and their unusual color scheme I find most interesting. Although some have not found the binding to their taste, it is one of my dozen or so favorites of all the LEC bindings–just love those big fish and the marbled paper sides.
Title Page – This is declared the “definitive” edition of Munchausen, a claim the earlier LEC did not make. John Carswell poured through the lore of the good Baron, and compiled everything original author Rudolph Raspe and a few copycats composed into this edition, making this the first time all of Munchausen’s tales were fully assembled in one place. He also wrote the Introduction for the work. You can learn much about Carswell in the Sandglass.
Page 4 – I imagine the LEC features full-color illustrations, but Kredel’s charm still radiates from these illustrations. A good fit.
Personal Notes – I got this at Monterey’s BookBuyers, another part of the trade-in deal I got from them. It’s in very good shape, although that lovely marbled paper is not completely attached to the boards any more. I’ve read all of Raspe’s work in here, and it’s whimsical and entertaining. However, I found the first of the imitators to be lacking, so I’veput it aside. Too many other things to read!
April 29, 2012 Comments Off on 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!
March 28, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (unstated, 1949)
The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (unstated, 1949)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduction by Thomas Craven, translation/editing by John Addington Symonds
Reprint of LEC #86, 8th Series, V. 4 in 1937.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Okay, I have had this post sitting in idle for months, and I’d like to get it out into the open! Cellini’s memoirs were originally done for the Limited Editions Club in 1939, printed in Verona at the Officina Bodoni. Django6924 was kind enough to fill in some of the details on the book’s Heritage publication:
…the Life of Benvenuto Cellini was first issued in July, 1949. From my research, this is apparently the only time it was issued, although I remember having this book in the late 1960s when I was a member of the Heritage Club, but checking Bussacco’s Checklist, there is no record of it having been issued after Series N (June, 1949–May, 1950). Unhappily, I sold that edition in the 1970s so I don’t have the Sandglass, but I do have the LEC edition and Monthly Letter and can add a few interesting facts.
Cellini’s autobiography was among the most requested books in the polls conducted of the LEC subscribers in the early years of the Club. Symond’s translation was very popular, but I imagine what particularly stimulated interest was the very successful 1934 motion picture, “The Affairs of Cellini,” starring Frederic March (an early and lifelong LEC subscriber, incidentally, and friend of Macy’s), which was not really based on the Life but on the play “The Firebrand,” by Edwin Mayer (who later adapted it as a musical with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin). When it was decided to issue the autobiography, a contest was held by the LEC for book illustrators (the Life was one of 30 titles submitted to over 400 illustrators), and the title most chosen for illustration by these worthies was Cellini’s book. Cyril Bouda, C. Pal Molnar, and Valenti Angelo were among the artists who sent in sample art for Cellini, but the judges felt Kredel’s samples captured best Cellini’s nervous, and yet meticulous style.
The Officina Bodoni was chosen “for sentimental and practical reasons,” but apparently Signor Mardersteig changed his mind about the design of the book, for though the original prospectus for the LEC series described a 2-volume Life, Mardersteig decided that one large book with double printed columns could hold all the text in a single volume. One senses in the description of this in the Monthly Letter that Macy himself was not a fan of double columns, but nevertheless he praises the way it is laid out. The typeface is Monotype Bembo, a face designed by the great Aldus Manutius, a near contemporary of Cellini, and printed on a 100% linen rag paper made by Cartiere di Maslianica in Milano. The binding was especially woven for the book using a pattern made up of the Florentine lily, and the rampant lion from Cellini’s coat-of-arms. The binding is identical to the Heritage binding, so either the Officina had a lot left over, or it was recreated for the Heritage edition after the war (the war I suspect is the reason the book itself was issued as a Heritage book so long after the LEC version).
This was Fritz Kredel’s third commission for the Limited Editions Club. I see that I have neglected putting up his full commission list in the past, but I’ll rectify that on an older post. For now, you can see his other work I’ve spotlighted here.
Benvenuto Cellini was himself a busy fellow, leading the way as one of the more important artists in the Mannerism school, and was busy in other fields like music, goldsmithing, and writing (this particular book in fact!). This is his sole publication in the LEC/HP bibliography.
Title Page – John Addington Symonds translated Cellini’s words into English, and also served as an editor for this edition. Thomas Craven introduces the book. Kredel’s work is not full page size, but the detail is pretty incredible regardless!
Personal Notes – Borrowed from the library…that’s about all I can add! However, Django6924 has this fascinating tidbit to say:
An interesting followup to the LEC edition was a notice in the Monthly Letter for The Ballad of Reading Gaol–the following month. The Directors of the LEC were compiling a list of the top 50 bookbinders in the world, and were going to send those 50 an offer to bind one of the 50 copies of the unbound sheets for The Life of Benvenuto Cellini (the LEC apparently always made extra sets of pages for each edition). Those that accepted would be paid and all the bound books were to be sent around the world as an exhibition of the state of the bookbinder’s art in the late 1930s. Whatever came of this fascinating plan is a mystery–at least to me–and one would love to have known who was on the list, who accepted if the plan was carried through, and what happened to those books?
What did happen to that idea, I wonder? Big thanks to Django6924 for the additional comments!
January 8, 2012 § 2 Comments
Four Plays by Christopher Marlowe – Tamburlaine the Great (Parts I and II), Doctor Faustus and Edward the Second (1966)
Sandglass Number: VII-32
Artwork: Monogram Woodcuts by Fritz Kredel, Copperplate Engravings by Albert Decaris
Introduced by Havelock Ellis
Reprint of LEC #377, 34th Series, V. 3 in 1966
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Before beginning proper, let me say welcome to 2012! While my sixteen LEC’s are all on the blog, there’s no shortage of Heritage books for me to document (and I do have plans to further build my LEC collection throughout the year), and this is a lovely place to start.
Christopher Marlowe was one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, and was arguably the more famous playwright in that era of dramatic intrigue in England. Marlowe’s life was cut short due to a bar fight that ended with his death, so his talents never had a chance to fully blossom. His legacy has had to settle for second best, along with Ben Jonson and Thomas Kyd, other dramatists of that age, while Shakespeare became the champion of England’s literary canon. To further my point, Shakespeare saw several books from the George Macy Company, while Marlowe finally got four of his more prominent works compiled into a LEC edition in 1966. This Heritage reprint is one of the finest editions done of a LEC reissue, and some even consider its binding superior to the LEC. Definitely a highlight of the Helen Macy tenure. The front and back boards are a lovely shade of green (mottled green leather, the Sandglass says), but that’s not the highlight.
Spine – Here, this is the eye-catcher. The spine is beautiful, one of the greatest looking of all of the Heritage books, rivaling the fine editions of the LEC. Adrian Wilson, the book’s designer, created the motif of these charming monograms and had frequent Macy contributor Fritz Kredel render them in woodcut. These were stamped in pure gold leaf, and bound by the Russell-Rutter Company with William Fortney overseeing the process.
Title Page – Havelock Ellis, a noted psychologist who pioneered several key advances in the study of sexuality (including the concept of narcissism), had apparently been a fan of drama, and in the midst of all of his many works he found time to write about the playwright twice – as Editor of Christopher Marlowe… With a General Introduction on the English Drama During the Reigns of Elizabeth and James I by J.A. Symonds, in 1887, and From Marlowe to Shaw, published after his death in 1939. I’m not sure where the LEC pulled this intro from, but I’d wager it’s from one of those works.
Albert Decaris served only this commission to the Limited Editions Club, but his acclaim in his native France has been extraordinary. He was best known for his engravings, which is what he supplies here. He did illustrations for over 200 books at the time of this release, including what must have been a lovely edition of Don Quixote – it’s a shame he never had his services called upon a second time.
In other publication details, it was printed by the New York Lithographing Company, on paper produced by the Mead Paper Mill. The text is Bembo (main text) and Carolus (main titles).
Page 5 – An example of the text.
Page 12 – This is my favorite piece within the book. The linework is absolutely incredible. Again, a shame Decaris only did this one book.
Personal Notes – I have wanted this book for a long time, but I finally picked it up courtesy of my current bookselling appointment. I got it for free for volunteering there before being officially hired. Lovely book, glad to own it!