Limited Editions Club: The Birds by Aristophanes (1959)

June 17, 2017 § 2 Comments

The Birds by Aristophanes (1959)
LEC #304/28th Series V. 1 in 1959
Artwork: Illustrations by Marian Parry
Introduced and translated by Dudley Fitts

#403 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – It’s been a while since we last encountered Aristophanes, hasn’t it? Well this isn’t the expensive book with his name attached to it — that’s Lysistrata, and we covered the Heritage edition of that a bit ago. I also updated that post a little with Aristophanes’ publishing history, just as a FYI.

This is the last book issued by the George Macy Company from the playwright; we’ll have to track down The Frogs to wrap it all up. Curiously, the Heritage Press paired this with The Frogs when they issued it around the same time as this volume. They didn’t do that often, but it did happen on occasion — one half of the book was The Birds, and then one could flip it over and there was The Clouds.

Marian Perry was recruited to provide pen-and-ink drawings to decorate the text, and she does an admirable job giving character to the events of the play. Some are printed in color, which gives it some pop. Parry only worked on this LEC, but she left a strong impression in my opinion.

Design Notes – Bert Clarke of Clarke and Way was the lead designer on this book, although Parry was heavily involved given how crucial her illustrations are to the design. Bembo was the font of choice, and the Thistle Press (aka Clarke and Way) printed the text in their own shop. They decided to double-fold the pages, a rarity for the LEC. The letter goes into the cutting of double-fold pages in some detail on Page 4. Curtis Paper provided the …well, paper, and binding was done by the ever-constant Frank Fortney.

Solander Case

Slipcase

Title Page – Dudley Fitts was the translator of the text for this edition, and provides some thoughts in an Introduction.

Colophon – Since I got this at Old Captiol Books (formerly BookBuyers), it’s #403 of 1500 like every other title I’ve purchased from there.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this at Old Capitol Books in Monterey last time I was there, which was shortly after Christmas in 2016. The majority of my LECs are from that delightful shop and its predecessor, and when I stopped in Monterey this past November I wasn’t able to make it there, so it was nice to revisit the store after a bit of a long gap. I took my time to make my decision, and given that I adore Aristophanes’ work, I felt it was high time to actually add a LEC of his to my collection.

LEC Monthly Letter

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press – Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen (1965)

June 10, 2017 § 4 Comments

Limited Editions Club

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964
Artwork: Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner

#144 of 1500. Heritage edition detailed below.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Hello again, dear readers. It’s been almost a half year since we last had a book post pop up here at the blog, and over those six months my life has continued to change. I needed to get away for a bit to mature and rediscover myself, and I think I’m finally at a good point to pick up this project once again and discuss these lovely books. So I hope you can excuse me revising an old post as my return so I can get this back under my belt again. Thankfully it’s a nice edition from the Helen Macy period; Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen! This set features three of his biggest works: the biggies Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck leap to the forefront, although An Enemy of the People is also a classic. The Limited Editions Club previously published Peer Gynt in 1955 for the LEC and 1957 for the Heritage Press.

Artistically Fredrik Matheson was recruited to do woodcuts for this edition, and they are quite lovely. This was his only commission, but it’s a memorable one! The LEC features more colors in its prints than the Heritage; a common trend in Helen Macy’s period.

Design Notes – Matheson was responsible for the design along with Arnstein and Agnar Kirste, owners of the Kirstes Boktrykkeri (aka bookprintery, as the Sandglass defines it) of Oslo, Norway, where the book was printed and bound. The text is Garamond. Beyond this, I can’t get into any more specifics due to no LEC letter either in my book or from my fellow collectors. Once one turns up I’ll update this.

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Slipcase

Title Page – The title page fails to mention the translators/editor of this set. An Enemy of the People was rendered into English by Eleanor Marx-Aveling, the daughter of Communist Manifesto author Karl Marx. William Archer, the editor of this book, collaborated on Hedda Gabler‘s translation with Edmond Gosse, and Archer’s wife Florence Elizabeth Archer did the honors for The Wild Duck. John Gassner, who is credited here, offers up an Introduction.

Colophon – Matheson signed this copy, and this is #144 out of 1500.

Examples of the Illustrations by Matheson – I’m skipping the Gallery to make the comparisons easier to see.

Page 2

Page 7 – I really like Matheson’s artwork. His larger prints are full color wood engravings (with each color being a different block, which blows the mind if you begin to think about the craft of such precision on multiple blocks), while the smaller ones are mere monochrome (but still special!).  This would be his sole work for the George Macy Company, but he certainly left his mark. The colors are more dynamic in the LEC in contrast to the Heritage; notice the reds and peach tones.

Page 59 – This one, meanwhile, had a lot of blues the Heritage lacks.

Personal Notes – I purchased this at Carpe Diem Rare Books in Monterey, CA when I was last there, alongside the Quarto-Millenary. I essentially got it from free. :) It’s nice to have this back; as I note below in the original post, I lost my Heritage copy to water damage, and now I have the more luxurious LEC to replace it.

Three Plays of Henrik Ibsen – An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and Hedda Gabler (1964)
Sandglass Number XV:29
Artwork – Engravings by Frederik Matheson
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (Enemy), Florence Elizabeth Archer (Wild Duck) and Edmond Gosse and William Archer (Hedda Gabler), edited by William Archer and introduced by John Gassner
Reprint of LEC #364/33rd Series V. 2 in 1964

Front Binding – Unfortunately, the first thing that probably leaps to the eye is the staining the bottom of the binding features — I’m not sure if it was coffee or some other tannish liquid, but considering I got this book for free, I did not complain too much. However, a second mishap splashed water over several of my incomplete tomes, and this received additional damage while I attempted to dry it off.

Design Notes – The Heritage was printed by Kellogg and Bulkeley in Hartford, Connecticut on paper from the Cumberland Mills of Maine, which are owned by the S.D. Warren Company of Boston. The Russell-Rutter Company performed bindery duties, and the boards have a pattern paper meant to resemble a curtain, appropriate for Ibsen, legend of theater.

Title Page – The same as the LEC minus the red.

Page 7 – As you can see, this is less colorful than the LEC, but still nice. The Sandglass gets deep into Matheson’s art career on Page 4.

Page 17

Page 61

Personal Notes – I was sad to see this one go. I got this as a gift from my anthropology instructor, who salvaged it from somewhere. Thankfully I now have the LEC!

Sandglass:

Heritage Press: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)

December 29, 2016 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Pierre Brissaud put into woodblocks by Theo Schmied
Introduced by Jacques de Lacretelle, translated by J. Lewis May
Reprint of LEC #206, 19th Series, V. 10; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration. The LEC issued this work earlier in 1938 with Guntar Bohmer’s illustrations.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – To end 2016, we’ll post about the leading vote for the Heritage Reader’s Pick, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. This book has a bit of history, being that it was part of the Heritage Great French Romances series. One of the original ten books planned in 1938, this volume ended up being issued in 1950 as a Limited Editions Club title before launching as the ninth item in the aforementioned series in 1951 (the copyright date still lists 1950). Since my friend Django6924 did such a lovely job detailing the entire series, I’ll repost his comments about this particular book:

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.

This is the Nonesuch version of the book, given the lavender coloration. And the illustrations are indeed in monochrome. I’ll have to see if I can find a Heritage edition to compare.

This is Flaubert’s first appearance on the blog, although he had a fairly prolific run with Macy. This book is actually the second printing of Madame Bovary; 1938 saw the release of a LEC exclusive with Guther Bohmer’s artwork. The Temptation of Saint Anthony followed in 1943 with Warren Chappell’s artistic touch. Next came Brissaud’s 1950 spin on Bovary. Salammbo was issued in 1960 starring the talents of Edward Bawden. And lastly, the Cardevon Press issued Three Tales in 1978 with the art of May Neama.

Brissaud, meanwhile, is on his second-to-last commission we have covered on the blog. We’ve hit all his other contributions save his Shakespeare, The Two Gentleman of Verona. World War II wrecked havoc on Brissaud, as Django observes above, and really cut his potential for Macy. Thankfully he was really really good on the books he did illustrate!

I don’t have a Sandglass, so Django’s notes will have to suffice for now.

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Title Page – Jacques de Lacertelle provides an introduction, and J. Lewis May did the translation from French to English. As you can see, Brissaud’s work is different than his other contributions; Theo Schmied desired to convert Brissaud’s linework into woodblock, and Macy agreed to the endeavor. Personally, I prefer the watercolors and light touch of Brissaud’s style in contrast to the woodcuts, but maybe it looks better in color.

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

Personal Notes – This was another title Liz sent me earlier this year.

Limited Editions Club – An Iceland Fisherman by Pierre Loti (1931)

December 11, 2016 § 2 Comments

An Iceland Fisherman by Pierre Loti (1931)
LEC #21/2nd Series V. 9 in 1931
Artwork: Lithographs by Yngve Berg
Introduced and translated by Guy Endore

#504 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

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Front Binding – As chosen by the readers, the Limited Editions Club’s An Iceland Fisherman is our featured book this time. It’s been a little while since we’ve gone this far back in the Club’s history; this is from the second series of 1930-31, alongside Vanity Fair and Tartuffe. Unlike those two, this one would arguably be considered a more obscure selection by modern standards. Pierre Loti was the pen name of a French Navy officer named Julien Viaud, who first found literary success with this novel after thirteen years of writing novels for little to no fanfare. Those earlier works too became popular following the release of An Iceland Fisherman, and Loti received several accolades following this book, including the titles of the Legion of Honor and a seat on the French Academy. This would be the sole novel of Loti’s to get the LEC treatment, and the Heritage Press never reprinted this or any other work of his.

For their edition of Loti’s magnum opus, George Macy decided to not turn to France, Loti’s homeland, but to Sweden. Recruiting acclaimed Swedish artist Yngve Berg, designer Akke Kumlien, and publishing house P.A. Norstedt and Soner, the Royal Printing Office of Sweden, this book definitely has a flavor unique to its origin country. Macy doesn’t necessarily go into detail as to why Sweden was chosen for a French novel about an Icelandic Fisherman, but he does at least acknowledge that it is a bit of a curious choice in the Monthly Letter. Berg only illustrated one other book for Macy (Cymbeline in the LEC Shakespeare; thanks to commenter Eric for the reminder). Here, his soft pencil lithographs have a haunting quality that seem apropos for a book such as this. The binding is also very charming, with a simple but stunning grace with its colorful fish motif.

Design Notes – Berg and Kumlien share design duties on this volume, although Kumlien is the primary designer according to the colophon. Van Gelder Zonen of Holland provided handmade white linen rag paper, which was subsequently printed upon with the Cochin font via monotype machines. As noted above, P.A. Norstedt and Soner handled the printing duties of both text and lithograph, as well as the binding. The binding’s spine is white canvas with the author and title stamped in gold inside a green box, and the front and back covered with the aforementioned fish design by Berg.

I neglected to mention that Django6924 was the kind donor of the Monthly Letter. Shame on the blog founder/editor!

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Spine

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Title Page – Macy decried the lack of a good English translation of this novel, so he commissioned Guy Endore to render a new one for the Club. Endore also provides an Introduction unobserved here.

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Colophon – This is #504 of 1500, and signed by Berg.

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

Personal Notes – There is a slightly sad story attached to this book. If I can breach into the realm of the personal (in a section called Personal Notes!), this was purchased in San Francisco at Green Apple Books this past August or September. That by itself has no emotional attachment, but the trip in question was the last time my ex and I went out on a trip together in what was then perceived to be an attempt to do something fun and try to rejuvenate our marriage. That ultimately did not come to pass, but there is no “alas” or “unfortunately” terms to state. While at the time I wanted to try to repair and maintain our companionship, the subsequent months since this book’s purchase has highlighted how much that desire was falsified by my own insecurity and fear. Since our separation I have regained a lot of lost perspective and understanding on what exactly want in life, which for a very long while I had forgotten. So, while I do have regret about my marriage ending, it is not a bad thing in the slightest. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn, grow and rediscover, which is what I have been doing ever since.

LEC Monthly Letter

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Limited Editions Club: Quarto-Millenary (1959)

December 4, 2016 § 1 Comment

Quarto-Millenary: 250 Publications of the Limited Editions Club (1959)
Special Publication of the LEC.
Artwork: Reproductions of various LEC editions.
Introduced by Robert L. Dothard. Critique by Paul Beaujon, Paul A. Bennett, Edward Alden Jewell, James Laver, Thomas Craven and John T. Winterich. Commentary in the Bibliography by George Macy.
LEC #114 of 2250 (1500 for membership, 750 for distribution outside of the Club). LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

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Front Binding – Long time no see! As you may have gathered, my life was not in a place where I could devote much time to covering the publications of the George Macy Company and its handlers; to be brief, I recently separated from my wife amiably after discovering that we weren’t happy together any more. Don’t worry, though — I’m doing fine and am finally at a good point to pick up this project once again (good thing, too, as I’m getting backlogged!).

Our book today is the Quarto-Millenary, a thorough and wonderful resource for any collector interested in the Limited Editions Club under George Macy’s tenure. Issued in 1959 as a special publication, it finishes the dream of Macy to properly archive the history of his Club at a crucial point of its lifeline, and stops just short of the end of the 23rd series’ conclusion in 1955. Unfortunately, Macy passed away in 1956, leaving it unfinished; thankfully, publisher Robert L. Dothard explains how the book came to be in his Introduction. According to Dothard, Macy got the idea to cover the entirety of the LEC enterprise after the Shakespeare set issued its own record, Ten Years and William Shakespeare. He desired to mirror the format of that little book: a collection of critical commentary on literature, fine printing, and as illustrated tomes; next, he planned to provide several photographs of the work of the Club as an example of how he felt the art should be produced; next, the bibliography, complete with Macy’s thoughts and insights into most of the editions issued; and last, a proper index. As the 250th volume of the Club approached, he began in earnest this project. He wanted a comprehensive survey of his Club, done up as detailed above, with his personal selections for the pages to represent the Club’s artistic merits as fine press books, with the pages to be reprinted exactly as they originally were. The critique was called for from major essayists of the day, and the beginning of Macy’s detailed bibliography took form. He coined the title, and started the immense selection of the representations to be included…but alas, time ran out for Macy before he could get the project completely off the ground. Stalled, Helen Macy stepped in and recruited Dothard to take over the design and publication of the book. With the assistance of Max M. Stein, production manager for the LEC, and Yetta Arenstein, who assisted editing the Bibliography and Indexes, Dothard completed the monumental task of Macy’s dream archival record in 1959.

The book is formatted as such: Critique, provided by several key contributors (including John T. Winterich, who has written several forewords and possibly even some letters for the Club! We’ve seen him plenty over the years); Conspectus (the collection of images from the many books from the Club); Bibliography, and Indexes. It’s a lovely history of George’s era of the Club, arguably its finest in its long line, and is definitely worth checking out if you’re into Macy’s publications.

Design Notes – As noted, Dothard was the primary designer of the book, taking cues from Macy’s original plan but acting on his own to execute it. A. Colish and Clarke & Way handled the text composition and printing, while a multitude of illustration printers tackled the reprinted Conspectus: Crafton Graphic Company, W.S. Cowell Ltd., The Curwen Press, George C. Miller, Photogravure and Color Company, and Walter Fischer. The paper is an Archer white provided by the Curtis Paper Company, and the binding was done by Russell-Rutter’s Frank Fortney (by the way, 170 of the volumes featured were bound by Fortney, so no wonder his name pops up so often!).

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Spine

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Slipcase

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Title Page – A simple yet dainty design with a lot of color. Nice!

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Dedication – Helen Macy provides some generous words about her husband and the people responsible for the publication of this and future books.

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Colophon – This exceeded the usual 1500 publication limit by 750, more than likely to distribute to crucial repositories and libraries. This is #144 of the 1500 allotted to the membership.

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

Personal Notes – I got this from Carpe Diem Fine Books in Monterey a week or two back. I was astounded to see it; I was further shocked by the $75 price tag! That seemed so low to me that it was almost decided then and there to buy it. However, there was a 30% off sale (with the potential for it to go up to 50% if I could find five books!), so I did dig around in the hopes of seeing if I could pull off some sort of amazing purchase of five LECs to get the greater discount. I did not, so immediately I went back and grabbed this. The good news is that the other LEC I found, The Three Plays of Ibsen, ended up being essentially free thanks to the combined 30% discount, so I have double the reason to be merry about acquiring this lovely resource!

PS – Macy’s notes will likely be an Of Interest post in the future!

I’m not sure if this came with Monthly Letter — I will find out and report back with it if possible.

Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells (1960)

September 5, 2016 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells (1960)

Limited Editions Club

Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells (1960)
LEC #307/28th Series V. 4 in 1960
Artwork: Drawings by Lynton Lamb
Introduced by Norman H. Strouse

#660 of 1500. Heritage edition detailed below.

Click to see larger views.

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Front Binding – It’s yet another round of updating an older Heritage post with LEC information; this time, the perhaps surprising choice of H.G. Wells’ Tono-Bungay. I say surprising because Wells is now well-regarded for his contributions to science fiction, laying a lot of the initial groundwork for the genre today. However, the Limited Editions Club picked Tono-Bungay, a somewhat autobiographical novel that the Monthly Letter and Sandglass reveals that the author considered his finest work in fiction, as their first release of his. They followed up Tono-Bungay with two books of three of his better known works: The Time Machine & The War of the Worlds, with Joe Mugnaini’s art in 1964, and The Invisible Man, with Charles Mozley (who also did Shaw’s Man and Superman) providing the illustrations in 1967.

Tono-Bungay was Lynton Lamb’s second commission for the LEC, following his work on George Eliot’s Silas Marner in 1953. He would receive one more offer with the Club for Joseph Addison’s The Spectator in 1970. His drawings for this work come in two forms; black-and-white pieces (39) and full-color (15). Lamb was asked by the Club how he performed his full-color plates, which I’ll quote a piece of (you can read the rest in the Sandglass scans below on page 4):

I draw my basic design in black ink on a coloured paper which I also heighten with white. (The coloured paper I choose is one that is of a middle strength between light and dark; and for block making purposes I have used a middle blue, although once the blocks are made, this part of the design may be printed in another colour. The other colours are then drawn on separate sheets of tracing paper in black to give the necessary combination of overprinting.)

Design Notes – This was designed by Bert Clarke of Clarke and Way in New York (aka The Thistle Press), who also did the pub duties for both variants of the book. I will pause to highlight Clarke and Way, as they were Bert Clarke and David Way, who both used to be employed by the George Macy Company as part of the Heritage Press. They named their press after their mentor, one of the most distinguished members of the LEC/Heritage printing canon, Bruce Rogers.

The text is Caslon Old Style No. 337 (the Sandglass tackles the obvious gag of “is there 226 other Caslon fonts?” in its next sentence) while the block divisions and chapter headings are graced with Craw Clarendon typeface. The text was then printed by Clarke and Way for the LEC and by the New York Lithographing Company for the Heritage.

Unfortunately, I do not have the monthly letter to further elaborate on the LEC. I will see if my friends in the Devotees may be able to assist me.

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Slipcase

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Title Page – Norman H. Strouse, the President of J. Walter Thompson Company in New York (at the time, the Sandglass gushes, “the most fabulous, amazing, tremendous, supercolossal advertising agency in the whole wide world”), delivers an Introduction.

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Colophon – This is copy 660 of 1500, and Lamb provides his signature.

Examples of the Illustrations by Lamb – I’m skipping the Gallery again so I don’t have to do it twice; it will hopefully make the comparisons easier to see.

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Page 16 – Lamb’s illustrations are a little subdued, which is appropriate for the text. Not my favorite, I must admit, but they work. The colors blend quite nicely, and the scenes are well depicted.

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Page 33

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Page 26 – I skipped the black and white linework last time; not so now!

Personal Notes – How weird that this too, like Herodotus’ volume, took five years to acquire since I originally posted about it! This also came from Liz, the very nice person who sent me a bunch of books gratis a few months back. Thanks again!

Heritage Press

Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells (1960)
Sandglass Number VI: 26
Artwork: Drawings by Lynton Lamb
Introduced by Norman H. Strouse
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #307/28th Series V. 4 in 1960

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – The design for the binding changed things up a little between editions; one of Lamb’s illustrations were utilized for a little extra decoration, and the spine was toned down a little (the bottle is still there, but it’s not as prominent a design element). Otherwise, the inside is essentially the same, right to the reprinting of Lamb’s artwork (in the same color scheme as the LEC no less!). After George Macy’s passing, several LECs had their color palette reduced or stripped out in their conversion to a Heritage, but that is not the case here.

Other design notes for the Heritage: it features Saturn-wove paper specifically made for the Press by the Crocker Burbank Company of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Lamb’s plates were made by John Swain & Company in London, sailed over to America on the Queen Mary, and printed by Clarke and Way. The boards are covered with “a staunch natural-finish cloth…a symphony of rose-reds.” The spine has the book’s title, Wells’ name and a bottle of the titular elixir stamped in gold, which were done by the ever-busy Russell-Rutter Company in New York. One of Lamb’s drawings adorns the front cover.

Title Page – No fancy colors here like the LEC.

Page 16 – The reprints of the LEC plates turned out well; there’s not a huge difference in quality. Perhaps Clarke and Way’s involvement here helped?

Page 33

Personal Notes – I haven’t read this novel, but I do think it’s a nice-looking book with quite a bit of charm. I got this copy from Page One Used Books, my good friend’s bookshop, before she retired (the same friend I traded Brownings with) for free for helping out with the store. Amazing how many HP books I got that way…it lacked a slipcase, but the condition was otherwise fantastic. I no longer have it (I have a LEC, naturally).

Sandglass:

Updated 9/5/2016 by JF

Heritage Press: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1951)

July 4, 2016 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1951)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1951)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: Drawings from William Sharp
Introduced by Carl Van Doren; Printed for the first time from his manuscripts as originally written, including his preliminary outline
Heritage Press exclusive; the LEC issued their own edition designed and signed by printer John Henry Nash in 1931, #26, 3rd Series, V. 1 in 1931

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I’ve decided to bump up a Heritage Press title for the holiday, and I happen to have one quite apropos for today: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, one of the all-time legends in non-fiction and arguably the most famous memoir ever written (at least by an American!). Franklin, of course, was one of the Founding Fathers of America, but he wore many other hats during his long life: inventor, banker, post officer, businessman, printer, newspaperman, diplomat, writer, and scientist. The book was a project that he didn’t fully finish before his death (and as Carl Van Doren notes, was written in a blistering four months), but he was still able to document fifty or so years of his busy, industrious life. This is the Heritage version of the work; Macy commissioned renowned printer John Henry Nash to print a LEC back in 1931 as the first title in the 3rd series. William Wilke served as illustrator for that edition, although it was Nash who ultimately signed the colophon. Franklin would also have his Poor Farmer’s Almanacks printed by both presses in 1964, which featured the paintings of Norman Rockwell.

For this Heritage original, Macy hired William Sharp to do the honors of rendering Franklin’s world in line drawings, a task he has performed multiple times for the George Macy Company. As previously covered, Sharp brought the lives of Rousseau and Pepys to Macy’s editions of those works, so he was certainly not a stranger to chronicling the authors in illustration (Rousseau did follow this work, mind). For Sharp’s bibliography, please see the post on Pepys.

Design Notes – …I have none! Alas, I have no Sandglass and this stands as an original Heritage. There is also no colophon to work from. Once I have some production details, I will happily elaborate.

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Spine

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Slipcase

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Title Page – Carl Van Doren, who I briefly mentioned above, provides an Introduction. What’s kind of neat about this edition is that Macy had the text taken directly from Franklin’s original manuscript stored at the Huntington Library in Pasadena. The outline, included here as well, came from the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.

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

Personal Notes – This was another book sent to me recently by Liz. I’m happy to have it join my collection!

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