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.
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.
April 22, 2012 § 7 Comments
Welcome to our first comparison post of two differing versions of a work. Here we will discuss the original LEC Brothers Karamazov done in 1933 to a later Heritage reprint of the 1949 LEC. Both have the same translation, but feature distinctly different design and artistic traits unique to their editions. For this post I will focus on the 1933 LEC first, and then move onto the Heritage. Let’s start, shall we?
Note – I have just added the Monthly Letter to the King-illustrated Karamazov, but I have not updated the text to reflect the knowledge within. That will come.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1933, 3 volumes)
LEC #50/5th Series V. 2 in 1933
Artwork – Portrait Illustrations by Alexander King
Translated by Constance Garnett, Introduced by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
LEC #919 of 1500
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding (1933 LEC) – Since all three are unique (and lovely!) in their bindings, I snapped each one individually. I like the green/orange/blue shades and the crazy rib-like boards. D.B. Updike of the Merrymount Press handled printing duties (and potentially design duties as well, but I’m not sure of that). That’s unfortunately all I can tell you about the book’s creation.
Luckily, I do have plenty to tell you about the author’s history with the LEC (since I forgot to do so in my prior Dostoevsky posts on Crime and Punishment and The House of the Dead!). Fyodor Dostoevsky is the giant of giants in Russian literature, and with very good reason. The George Macy Company thought of him highly, and lavishly produced several editions of his works over their tenure, with future owners Cardevon and Sid Shiff joining in the fun as well. This set was the beginning of the long-lasting relationship in 1933, with the Heritage Crime and Punishment following in 1938 with Fritz Eichenberg’s woodcuts. The LEC would reprint that in 1948 as a 2-volume set. A revisit to The Brothers Karamazov followed in 1949, again featuring Eichenberg’s art, this time in stone lithographs. It’s clear that the Club caught Dostoevsky/Eichenberg fever from there, because all but one of the remaining publications unite the two again and again: 1956’s The Idiot, 1959’s The Possessed, 1974’s A Raw Youth (under Cardevon), and Sid Shiff’s concluding production of The House of the Dead in 1982. The only other case Eichenberg was not involved was the short story combo The Gambler and Notes from Underground, released in 1967 and starring Alexande Alexeieff as its illustrator. No wonder Eichenberg seems to be known in our circles as “the Russian illustrator”; He also did art for the works of Tolstoy (Resurrection, War and Peace), Pushkin (Eugene Onegin) and Turgenev (Father and Sons).
But enough with Eichenberg for the time being. His time will come in the second half of this monster of a post. Let’s focus on Alexander King, who is making his debut on our blog with this post. King deserves notoriety as being the very first illustrator for the Club, giving the 1929 Travels of Lemuel Gulliver his artistic flair. He next gave Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones his talent on 1931, with this set following that in 1933. Alas, that would be the end of the Macy connection. King was far more than an illustrator, though; he became a media sensation on The Tonight Show in later years, as well as writing several books, both fiction and non. He was a bohemian who got deep into drug addiction, multiple marriages and had several health problems, but he managed to leave his mark in the entertainment world. It’s fitting that he helped launch the decadent press that we love so well in a way.
Title Page – Constance Garnett is often the go-to for Russian translation for the Club, and this is a shining example of that practice (if not the first instance of that practice!). Avrahm Yarmolinsky is the introductory presenter here, an act he would do again for Eugene Onegin. The later 1949 printing reuses both Garnett and Yarmolinsky’s respective talents, which makes it all the more curious why they reprinted it. Well, Eichenberg’s work is spectacular in that, which is good enough for me!
Signature Page – Copy #919, with King’s signature.
Page 1 – King’s style is more cartoonish than Eichenberg’s, but it works. His portraits elude an intriguing sense of characterization, that they do.
Page 129 – I like the exaggerated eyes.
Personal Notes – Checked out from my UC library. Wouldn’t mind owning it!
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1961)
Sandglass Number: III: 33R
Artwork: Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett, Introduced by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
Reprint of LEC #197, 19th Series, V. 1 in 1949
Front Binding – Another splendid binding. Apparently The Brothers Karamazov has that effect on book designers. Here we get a great illustration of Dostoevsky done by Eichenberg; note the crucified foot to the right of his head. Both sides feature this stunning rendition of the author. Thanks to a Sandglass, I can tell you some design info on this one. The text is set in Original Old Style font, composed by E.L. Hildreth & Company. Printing was handled by the Duenewald Printing Corporation of New York on paper supplied by Finch, Pruyn and Company. Binding was by Russell-Rutter (man, that shop could have stayed alive just because of Macy’s interactions with them).
So, now I can blab about Fritz Eichenberg all I want. I noticed that I have utterly failed to list out every book he had a hand in for George Macy and the subsequent owners of the LEC, and I’d like to rectify that now. It all began with the Heritage Press. The 1938 Crime and Punishment set Eichenberg off on a long and storied career few other illustrators can match. He next performed his craft in the massive LEC Shakespeare set, rendering the grotesque Richard the Third. Eugene Onegin was next in 1943. The LEC Crime and Punishment followed in 1948, although I don’t think he did anything new for that re-release. The Brothers Karamazov came out in 1949. Fathers and Sons was next in 1951, and Hawthorne’s King Midas and the Golden Touch, released as part of a greater set of Evergreen Tales, went out in 1952. Goethe’s The Story of Reynard the Fox was shipped in 1954. A third Dostoevsky novel, The Idiot, was released in 1956, with another, The Possessed, coming out in 1959. Tolstoy’s Resurrection was unveiled in 1963. A second Tolstoy collaboration came under Cardevon’s ownership, with 1972’s Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. Dostoevsky’s A Raw Youth continued the chain in 1974. While Eichenberg did not illustrate the book’s pages, he did contribute a print to Villon’s Lyrical Poems in 1979. 1981 saw Eichenberg tackle Grimmelshausen’s The Adventures of Simplicissimus for Sid Shiff. 1982 saw the final Dostoevsky work the Club printed, with Eichenberg naturally attached, in The House of the Dead. The last LEC Eichenberg made illustrations for was Georges’ The Diary of a Country Priest in 1986. Almost a fifty year run! And I haven’t even touched on his two other Heritage exclusives, War and Peace and Gulliver’s Travels. In total, Eichenberg provided his incredible artwork for 15 LEC’s and 3 Heritage Press books, plus a bonus LEC print for the Villon (those numbers include Crime and Punishment in both their tallies, mainly because I’m not sure if Eichenberg did any further work for the LEC edition). Impressive, isn’t it?
Title Page – A little more snazzy than the 1933 edition, if I may say so.
Page 8 – The Sandglass lavishes most of its attention onto Eichenberg, in particular his creation of the stone lithographs for this novel. Definitely check it out, as a summary does not do the praise justice. These definitely are among his most breathtaking illustrations.
Page 14 – If there was ever any doubt of Eichenberg’s talent, may this spectacular piece wash it away. Among my favorites of his.
Personal Notes – This came in the massive lot I recently obtained from the Oakhurst Library. This was one of the books I got for free. Yes, you read that right. And it’s one I’ve coveted for years, and now it is mine, complete and in marvelous condition. :)
Well, that was a lot of information! I look forward to the next time I get the chance to do a comparison like this. Either way you go for this book, I think you’ll be rewarded handsomely. :)
August 29, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1938/1948)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1938 Heritage/1948 LEC)
Sandglass Number 6BR
Artwork – Wood Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garrett, introduced by Lawrence Irving
Heritage Press original, reprinted as LEC #189/18th Series V. 4 in 1948
LEC #1500 of 1500
Note – I have added the Monthly Letter from the LEC edition to the post, but have not put in those details into the post yet. It will happen in time.
Click the images for larger views. Heritage will be on top, LEC on bottom.
Front Bindings – Crime and Punishment is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s most legendary work, and it has been ravishingly designed for both its Heritage and LEC editions. Occasionally the Heritage Press would have their edition come out first, with a LEC two-volume reprint following that – this is another example of this (Moll Flanders and Beowulf are two others I know of). Both went with a striking red for its boards, with a black block inlay of a cross and axe done by the book’s illustrator Fritz Eichenberg. This was, to my knowledge, Eichenberg’s very first commission for the George Macy Company, and it wouldn’t be his last. In fact, he would illustrate books for the LEC until 1986, when his last work, The Diary of a Country Priest, would be released by Sidney Shiff’s Limited Editions Club. Almost 50 years of illustrating magic! As of right now, I’ve got two other books up with Eichenberg’s work for those curious to see more – the LEC House of the Dead, also by Dostoevsky, and the Heritage Eugene Onegin by Pushkin.
The Heritage original was designed by Carl Purington Rollins, the printer at Yale University in 1938. kdweber at Librarything was nice enough to pass along the LEC design info:
The LEC Crime and Punishment was designed by George Macy himself. Printed by E. L. Hildreth and Company; set in linotype Original Old Style, Worthy special paper; bound by Russell-Rutter Company.
Russell-Rutter did the binding for the Heritage as well.
Slipcase – The Heritage went black, the LEC went red. Oddly, there’s no label or printing on the LEC slipcase indicating what it is, which is a little weird. Maybe I’m missing a interior case.
Title Page – The Heritage and LEC title pages are radically different in structure, and I musy admit a preference to the LEC in this case – the use of color makes it pop more, and I like Eichenberg’s cross by the title. Goudy Modern is the font chosen by Rollins for the Heritage, while the LEC was “set in linotype Original Old Style”, to quote kdweber. To wrap up the Heritage printing information, Ferris Printing did the etching/text printing honors on Crocker-Burbank Co. paper made especially for the Heritage original. George Macy went with the popular Constance Garrett translation, and Laurence Irving provides an introduction to both volumes (the Heritage omits mentioning him for some reason).
Signature Page – I must admit to being a little tickled at having #1500 for this book. Eichenberg’s signature is nice, too, as I adore his work. Eichenberg’s wood blocks were reused for the LEC edition by George Macy’s own printers, which is pretty neat.
Page 1/Part One Introduction – More stylistic diversions here, as the Heritage begins Part 1 with the first Chapter on the same page, but the LEC makes a special introductory page for Part 1, and then starts Chapter 1 on the next page.
Page 18/Page 17 – Eichenberg, you don’t fail to astound me.
Personal Notes – I bought the Heritage first at a library book sale in Oakhurst in 2009 or so, with a bevy of other books in what was my best haul at the time (I just topped it a couple weeks back). I paid $3 – 4 for it, I think…may have been $2. Not bad for a complete Heritage book. I got the LEC this past May from my former anthropology instructor, who won it at a local auction and asked me if I wanted it. That was a silly question. I owe him $50 for it whenever I can get it to him. I prefer the LEC, but both are excellent books!
December 9, 2010 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1982)
The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1982)
LEC #518, 46th Series, V. 3
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Foreword by Boris Shragin, translated by Constance Garnett
#403 out of 2000
Click images to see larger versions.
Front Binding – The sole LEC I own from Sid Shiff’s period of the LEC (even now, four years after I first wrote this post!). More information on Dostoevsky and illustrator Fritz Eichenberg can be seen at The Brothers Karamazov. These two had quite a run. So far, beyond this work, I’ve covered the aforementioned Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, as well as The Possessed. This was Eichenberg’s last Dostoevsky novel and his second-to-last commission from the LEC, and if I may be so bold, Eichenberg had not lost a single step along his long career. Compare the artwork here to the art from Crime and Punishment, one of his earliest commissions, and you can see that his artistry had not dulled one bit. In fact, it has, in my opinion, gotten better over the decades, and this is a wondrously illustrated title.
Design Notes – A lovely soft gray cloth covers the boards, and the title and author have been stamped with copper. Designed by Antonie Eichenberg (any relation to Fritz Eichenberg, I wonder?). Made from plum-gray 100% Toile Athena cotton imported from France by Clarence House Imports, Ltd., with the title and author stamped in deep copper on the front and the title on the spine. My copy unfortunately has a faded spine, rendering the text as a more silvery color. The text is Wilhelm Klingsporschrift. The process of binding was done at Robert A. Burlen & Son in Hingham, Massachusetts. This info from the LEC Newsletter, which you can see at the end of this post.
Title Page: As usual, the Limited Editions Club went with Constance Garnett’s translation. She seemed to be the go-to for the majority of their printings of Russian works. Along with this, there’s Crime and Punishment, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. Chekhov’s Two Plays also has Garnett’s touch. Tolstoy’s Resurrection was translated by Leo Wiener and revised and edited by F.D. Reeve, Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin was done by Babette Deutsch, and the Russian Folk Tales featured Aleksandr Nikolaevich Afanasyev’s translations, which were modernized by Albert Lord. The foreword was written by Boris Shragin. Fritz Eichenberg’s woodcut here sets the tone for the rest of the book quite well, if you ask me. He’s one of my favorites. He almost became synonymous with George Macy’s Russian output, with most of his work dealing with such classics for the company. There are exceptions, of course, which I go into here.
Colophon: My copy is #403 out of 2000, and was signed by Eichenberg and one of the typesetters, Michael Bixler. Bill Majure does not mention Bixler on his Collector’s Checklist, so I’m not sure if I have a special copy or not (Django6924 says his copy is also signed by Bixler, so I have a feeling it was merely an omission of Majure’s part).
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes: This was my second LEC, purchased at a great used shop in Monterey, CA, Bookhaven. Prior to this I had been stunned with Eichenberg’s work in the Heritage Crime and Punishment, and this book cemented him as one of my favorite artists. Getting a signed copy of one of his books was a great joy (and now I have C&P as a LEC, so that’s two!). I’ve gotten some books outside of the Macy publishers that he had illustrated, including a Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre set and a collection of Poe’s tales. Lovely books as well. It’s also the first LEC I had bought that had a Newsletter with it. I’ve checked every LEC in the shop following this, and only a couple of the books printed in the ’80’s include them. It seems that this particular collector did not keep them with his books until that point. Luckily, I’ve gotten some in other stores that do have them! I paid $40 for this beauty, and I don’t regret it at all. One of my gems of my collection.
Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Updated 7/25/2014 – JF