August 18, 2019 § Leave a comment
The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France (1953)
LEC #239/22nd Series, V. 7
Sandglass Number I:19
Artwork: Etchings by Pierre Watrin
Introduced by Desmond MacCarthy, and translated by Mrs. Wilfrid Jackson
#1431 of 1500
Heritage Press reprinted this edition, both compared below.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Today brings an older post back from 2011, The Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France. Having come across the LEC edition, it’s time to finally compare the Heritage against it to see how they stack up. One thing you’ll notice is that the LEC (right) is slightly larger than the Heritage edition (left). It’s not a huge difference, but it is enough of one that it does impact the interior of the Heritage reprint, which we’ll get to.
Let’s discuss the author for a moment. Anatole France, the satirical French author who you see all too little reprinting of these days, is the subject of today’s post. The Revolt of the Angels was the last one printed by the Limited Editions Club, following At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque (1933), The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1937), Penguin Island (1947), and Crainquebille (1949). The first two were illustrated by Sylvain Sauvage (who would also do a special Penguin Island for the Heritage Press, among several others), while Malcolm Cameron and Bernard Lamotte supplied illustrations for the last two, respectively. The Heritage Press also did another of his works, The Gods are a-Thrist for the Heritage French Romances line. Django6924 has this to add about France’s popularity within the Macy Companies:
It is interesting that the Macy companies gave so much attention to Anatole France, who, though a Nobel Prize winner, was certainly not in the upper echelon. Five of his novels found representation in the LEC and one additional Heritage Press only edition of The Gods are a-thirst. This puts him ahead of Thomas Hardy, one of the better represented English novelists (Conrad eventually pulled ahead of France, but a majority of his works were printed after Macy’s tenure–during the time George Macy was in charge, only Dickens was better represented among novelists.)
This particular book has a bit of interesting history to it, as the Club was wanting to publish a fine edition, but were not receiving sample illustrations that they felt matched the book’s spirit. In fact, they go on record saying that they were “disappointed with these sample drawings”. While in Paris, France’s (the author, not the country) original publisher, Calmann-Levy, was about to unleash their own collector’s edition of Revolt, with etchings done by Sauvage protege Pierre Watrin. Watrin’s work fit the Club’s imagining of their book so perfectly that they gained reprinting rights for the art, and had them reproduced via gravures.
This was Watrin’s only work for the LEC, which was, as mentioned above, not unique to it. Blog commenter and fellow Macy Devotee featherwate had plenty to say about Watrin’s career following this book:
What the Sandglass doesn’t reveal is that during the seven years that elapsed between Watrin’s etchings appearing in the Calmann-Levy limited edition of the Revolt (1946) and their re-appearance in the LEC/HP editions of 1953, the artist himself seems to have largely abandoned serious book illustration to become an animation artist (and later director). He worked on one of the most famous of French cartoon features, Le Roi et L’Oiseau [English title: The King and the Mocking Bird], which began production in 1948 and was finally completed in – wait for it! – 1980; the delay was caused by studio bankruptcy and arguments over rights. The best-known of his other films is The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976), which he co-directed with Asterix’s creators Goscinny and Uderzo.
It was an interesting change of career for someone who was a star pupil of Sylvain Sauvage and according to the Sandglass had in only eight years established a high reputation as an illustrator and theatre designer. I have to say that most of the few illustrations of his I have found reproduced on the internet are pretty mundane compared to his etchings for Revolt: bread-and-butter pictures in children’s books and strip-cartoon histories of various French provinces (and let’s not overlook Space Mission Health Hygéa 7, a bizarre-sounding medical guide for teenagers[?] issued by the French government).
At http://www.flickr.com/photos/62235807@N02/ I’ve posted a still from Le Roi; the film is in colour but this b&w portrait hanging on a wall seems to have the same graphic wit as Watrin’s etchings for Revolt. I like to think of it as his work.
And I’m sure that’s more than you ever wanted to know about the life and work of Pierre Watrin!
Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks handled design and publishing duties for the LEC edition via their Plantin Press, while Ferris Printing Company produced the Heritage edition. Django6924 had this to say about the Marks:
The Revolt of the Angels was another production from Saul and Lillian Mark’s Plantin Press in Los Angeles…In the Monthly Letter on another of the several books from Plantin, Macy wrote that the presswork “was the finest since John Henry Nash went to his reward.” This was the ultimate in praise, as Macy felt that for quality, Nash was unmatched by any printer alive.
The LEC edition has the following particulars (per the Quatro-Millenary:
The LEC’s silk-finish cloth appears to be of sterner stuff than the binding material for the Heritage; the boards are covered in a “silky material of a midnight-blue color” according to the Sandglass, but the ink that stained it is incredibly sensitive to fading in the sun, as I’ve seen at least five different copies all afflicted with a grayed, dull spine. Shame, too, as it’s otherwise a nice book. Both feature a sword adorned with angel wings stamped into the front boards in silver leaf, shared with the spine.
The Heritage had its gravures handled by the Photogravure and Color Company in New York, like its LEC forebear. Paper was supplied by the International Paper Company. Russell-Rutter handled the binding of this version.
Spines – The Heritage is on top, and demonstrates how badly the fabric tends to sun for this edition. In contrast, the LEC is a vibrant blue.
Title Page – Mrs. Wilfrid Jackson, who spent much of her time translating the works of France it would seem from a quick Googling, seems the right person for the job translating this work. Desmond MacCarthy serves up an Introduction.
Colophon – This LEC is #1431 of 1500. Watrin did not provide his signature, probably due to the several year gap in releases and the fact Macy did not commission him specifically to do this book.
There isn’t much difference between the production quality of the two editions internally beyond two key things: the paper in the LEC feels higher quality between your fingers, and the text is slightly compressed in the Heritage. An example of this can be seen below:
Page 23 – The top is the Heritage, the bottom is the LEC. The Heritage’s font is a tad denser, while the LEC has a thinner crispness to it. The illustrations are well copied, considering the same company handled both editions on that front (and both were photogravures in the first place).
As for the art, the LEC was wise to gain the rights to reprinting Watrin’s work, as he has a distinct style that seems to work well.
Page 30 (Heritage) – There’s some in-text art as well.
Page 83 (Heritage top, LEC bottom)
Page 103 (LEC)
Personal Notes – This is one of the most common Heritage Press books I’ve seen, as least where I used to live. Two of my old bookshop gigs had one, I bought this documented one at a local library sale…it’s sort of bizarre how often I used to see this. I also have spotted it in the Bay Area a lot.
Compared to France’s other books (which are rarer for me to find), Revolt seems to follow me around. :p I bought the copy I have now at Second Time Around in Merced (the last shop I worked at), which had a slipcase and was generally a nicer condition. Since the initial writing of this post I’ve gotten the LEC of this one as well as the aforementioned Gods Are A-Thrist, and snagging the rest of France’s LEC and Heritage output is high on my list to acquire!
I also happen to have a delightful Penguin Island and The Revolt of the Angels printing by Dodd, Mead in the late 1920’s that is illustrated wonderfully by Frank C. Pape. He did a series of France’s work for that publisher following France’s Nobel Prize win. Unfortunately, Pape never collaborated with the George Macy Company.
Another interesting thing that happened with this book for me is the inclusion of a second Sandglass, for the Heritage Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, a book I have never laid eyes on (and not for lack of trying!). It is some relief to know that if I ever do stumble upon one I won’t need it to have a Sandglass inside it as a determining factor (although I’d probably buy it on the spot considering how scarce it is). Curiously, the second copy I bought had a Sandglass for Washington Irving’s History of New York if I remember correctly. So, look inside copies of Revolt for unexpected Sandglasses!
Updated 8/18/2019 JF
July 14, 2019 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s (1935)
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s (1935)
Sandglass Number 1KX
Artwork: Illustrated and Illuminated by Valenti Angelo
Heritage Press exclusive. One of the original six titles issued by the Heritage Press; standard and special editions documented here.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Hello again, friends, we’re back after a bit of a break with a look into one of the original six Heritage Press books, The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s. This was the 2nd book in the 1st series from the newfound Press, and much like Manon Lescaut it was issued as a deluxe signature edition in a limited 1500 copy release. This time, I have the good fortune to be able to show you both editions from 1935 courtesy of Devotee K. Ronnevik, who was kind enough to take photos of the deluxe edition for me. Both editions use the same binding design, but we’ll break them down in more detail momentarily. The Limited Editions Club never printed an edition of this, although those familiar with my post on the “Booklover’s Tour of the World” concept will recognize that George Macy had the intention to print a LEC edition through that series. The plans were scrapped, but at the very least we do have an edition of it through the Heritage Press, and it’s a lovely book to boot!
If you saw my post on the Heritage exclusive printing of Salome, this book mirrors the design of that release (or, perhaps, one could say Salome borrowed it from Songs since it came out first!). It is a gorgeously printed book with yellow pages with a plethora of Valenti Angelo’s delightful linework serving as a frame to the lines from the Songs boxed in with illuminated decorated letters leading off each section. Let’s look at the announcement booklet’s comments on this edition:
The deluxe edition does indeed come in a nice leather, as I have come across it before in my travels but didn’t think it was the actual deluxe edition due to not finding Angelo’s signature in a similar place like Brissaud’s in Manon. I’ll explain that momentarily, but yes, I am still kicking myself about it. The standard issue strips out the leather for a black cloth.
Angelo has his bibliography in our Salome post. He’s popped up a bit lately, but for now I’m officially out of books featuring him again.
Design Notes – Angelo handled the designer duties along with providing the artwork. The font, Lutetia, is a Jan van Krimpen original, and was at the time a modern choice for such an ancient text. It was printed at 18 point for the black ink to really pop with the art surrounding the text box. The Sandglass gets into the illumination process in some detail — for my purposes I will say that the initial set of books took Angelo about a year to do the gold inlays, and since he performed the task for each book, each will differ ever so slightly from the rest. You’ll get to see that below as we compare editions.
Spine and Slipcase (regular edition)
Title Page – The top image is the deluxe edition, while the latter is my regular edition. As you can see, the pages of the deluxe edition are more transparent, due to a Japanese rag paper used for the 1500 that initially came out. Mine is a thin paper as well, but a thicker density than the Japanese rag, for certain. This book lacks any formal introduction, preferring to have Angelo’s talents provide the backdrop for the text.
Colophon – The standard edition has the colophon on the righthand page of the last set of lines from Songs; the deluxe instead inserts another page in between with no text block that serves as the signature page (as you can see Angelo’s signature below). It is also unique artwork, as the flower motif on the page is not replicated anywhere else in the standard edition of the book.
Signature Page – Angelo’s signature in pencil appears at the bottom.
Examples of the Illustrations by Angelo (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – As I mentioned, I had a copy of what I assume is the deluxe edition in my grasp, but I returned it to the shelf and picked up Zadig on that trip (a lovely book in its own right, and one of my favorite LECs to this day!). Sadly, once I had realized what I had and went back to Monterey to the same shop to try again, it was sold. My loss! I did buy the standard edition from my local shop The Bookstore since it was from 1935 and illuminated by Angelo, but I still am a little bummed I missed out on the deluxe to join my Manon. At least it goes well with my copy of Salome! The Sandglass is not unique to this edition, so it may not be 100% accurate. I got it in a different book altogether, an occasional curio that has happened more than once.
Huge thanks to K. Ronnevik for the pictures of the special edition!
June 1, 2019 § 2 Comments
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)
LEC #118/11th Series in 1939-1940
Artwork: Drawings by Gordon Ross. Edited and amended by Herbert Farjeon.
Part of the LEC Shakespeare series.
LEC #1505 of 1950. LEC exclusive.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – After some interlude we once more are back to the LEC Shakespeare, this time with one of the comedies, The Merry Wives of Windsor, starring the comedic Falstaff from Henry IV after the request of Queen Elizabeth for the knight’s tale to continue into one of budding love. Shakespeare obliged, and according to accounts at the time the Queen was so enthused with the prospect that she “commanded it to be finished in fourteen days; and was afterwards…very well pleased with the representation,” per the LEC newsletter for this edition. As the letter notes, Falstaff arguably had such a moment in Henry IV, when he departs Doll Tearsheet’s side to help Henry’s cause, but that’s neither here nor there — we have this delightful comedy to enjoy regardless of Falstaff’s whimsies.
For this play, George Macy tapped the artistic talents of Gordon Ross, who has not been seen on this blog for quite some time, although it is not for lack of effort or interest! Ross relished the opportunity to illustrate Windsor, especially enjoying drawing Falstaff’s horse and working to improve the look of the stout man from “gross toper sunk in a tavern chair” into the more dynamic and able character Shakespeare wrote. Personally, I think he succeeded! My very old Pickwick Papers post goes into his bibliography for Macy.
Design Notes – Bruce Rogers designed the LEC Shakespeare. A. Colish printed the text, while Ross’s illustrations were printed in collotype in black and sanguine by Georges Duval, then hand-colored for the title page (sadly, I do not know who did it).
Title Page – As with the entire set, Herbert Farjeon handled editing duties for the set.
Colophon – For the LEC Shakespeare, as we’ve discussed before, Macy upped the limitation count to 1950 from the usual 1500. This is from the 1505th set.
Examples of Ross’ Illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – As with the rest of the LEC Shakespeare covered over the past year or so (Henry IV Part 1 notwithstanding), this was sent to me by a very nice fan of the blog who has been beyond kind in sharing his duplicates with me to document. I cherish these books and am beyond appreciative.
May 26, 2019 § 2 Comments
The Song of Roland (1938)
LEC #102/9th Series, V. 7 in 1938
Sandglass Number VIII: 19
Artwork: Decorations by Valenti Angelo
Translated from the French into English by Charles Scott Moncrieff, and Edited and Introduced by Hamish Miles
#611 of 1500
Heritage Press reprinted this edition, both compared below.
Click images to see larger views. LEC on top, Heritage on Bottom.
Front Binding – The Song of Roland is a classic retelling of the epic battle between France and Spain (or, to be more specific, Charlemagne’s forces against the Saracens), originally composed in French by an anonymous poet. The George Macy Company was quite taken with the idea of attempting to recapture the era when this confrontation took place, and decided to have well-regarded illumination expert and illustrator (not to mention frequent LEC/Heritage Press artist) Valenti Angelo take the reins of trying to get the essence of an illuminated manuscript of the event done up in printed form. Angelo, of course, was up to the task, having done incredible work on the Heritage Salome and The Song of Songs by this point, as well as the LEC/HP edition of Elizabeth Browning’s Songs of the Portuguese. Clearly Angelo was quickly becoming a Club favorite and with good reason.
Now let’s look at the binding more closely:
Angelo was responsible for the binding design, and his charming handiwork gives it a strong centerpiece that really pops. The Heritage edition makes a valiant effort to replicate it; the white leather with gold leaf decoration was replaced with yellow cloth with blue decorations, and the fabric is a little less luxurious, but overall it’s a fairly good recreation. And his interior illustrations are perfect for this text. Angelo’s Macy bibliography can be found in our Salome post. Both editions I’ve owned are library editions, so they’ve seen some sunning over the years.
Design Notes – For this book, Angelo would split the designing task with printer Edmund B. Thompson of Windham, Connecticut. Angelo would do the art and hand-illuminate the decorations with gold, as well as design the binding, while Thompson would choose the type, set it by hand and have it printed. The Quarto goes into a little more detail:
For the Heritage reprint, details can be found in the Sandglass below.
Sadly, I don’t have a slipcase for this edition.
Title Page – Now we start seeing some of the major differences between these editions. The LEC features Angelo’s decadent hand-illuminations far more frequently, while the Heritage merely had some of these illuminations redone via silk screen application. The title font for the Heritage is a deep gold ink, but it’s difficult to make out here.
Charles Scott Moncrieff was the original translator of the French poem; Hamish Miles provides some editing alongside an introduction.
Colophon – Angelo provides his signature, and this is #611 of 1500.
Page 3 – Here’s a quick summary of Angelo’s decoration creation process. Angelo began with the basic black outline of his art, which he then embellished with inks of alternative colors: blue, green, and red. He then hand-illuminated each illustration with gold (which, again, is was applied much more thoroughly in the LEC edition). Angelo deliberately wanted to use dynamic and striking colors to recreate the feeling of medieval manuscripts, so he chose vivid inks that would be intense on the page. Very classy work. The Heritage may lose some of the hand-illumination, but does apply some changes to the design to try to make up for it. The first letter is done up in gold, and the stanza numbers are now in red both as the section headers and each set of lines.
Also of note, The Song of Roland is omitted from the Heritage reprint for some reason.
Page 27 – It looks like the line count on the left may be omitted on the Heritage edition? I no longer have it to check, but if I see it again I’ll doublecheck.
Page 84 (Heritage)
Page 127 (LEC)
Personal Notes – I originally got the Heritage edition for $1.00 from the anthropology club book sale at my old community college, and the LEC came into my hands courtesy of my delightful fan who continues to pass along books for me to review. Much appreciated!
April 14, 2019 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – Of the Nature of Things by Lucretius (1957)
Of the Nature of Things by Titus Lucretius Carus (1957)
LEC #278/25th Series V. 11 in 1957
Artwork: Woodcuts by Paul Landacre
Translated by William Ellery Leonard. Introduction by Charles E. Bennett
#495 of 1500. Heritage Press reissued.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding – Hello everyone! We’re back with a new post that isn’t a Shakespeare; in fact, we have several books on tap over the next few months to keep the blog quite busy! Today brings forth an intriguing book; the didactic poem that explores physics and the universe by Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus, Of the Nature of Things (De rerum natura). Easily Lucretius’ best known work, Of the Nature of Things is given a rather nice treatment by the Limited Editions Club. This would be the sole literary work either Club would issue, and the Heritage Press did choose to reprint it themselves.
In the six books Lucretius explores the known laws and principles of the world around him, positing theories and waxing upon the rules that govern the Earth and the cosmos..but in verse. I haven’t read it, but it sounds like a fascinating blend of science and the arts, and I look forward to giving it a chance soon.
Woodblock illustrator Paul Landacre performed the artistic duties on this book, the second commission he received (the first was for Ambrose Bierce’s Tales of Soldiers and Civilians in 1943). He is the perfect choice for this book, as his ethereal woodcuts give the atomic musings of the poetic words of Lucretius some visual splendor well deserving of the work. Landacre would come back for another scientific watermark, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1963, but he had passed away before the book was issued.
Design Notes – Unfortunately this book doesn’t have a Letter in Devotee storage for me to reference, but I can tell you that Ward Ritchie designed the book, which was subsequently printed by The Ward Ritchie Press by Anderson, Ritchie and Simon. Ward is renowned in the book publishing world for his excellence in the craft, but I believe this is the first edition we’ve seen of the press on the blog thus far. Landacre’s woodblock prints were taken directly from his engravings.
Title Page – The text is translated into English by William Ellery Leonard. This wasn’t the first time the LEC utilized his talents, as he also handled Beowulf. Charles E. Bennett stepped in to introduce the text.
Colophon – This is #495 of 1500, and was signed by Landacre.
Examples of the Woodcuts by Landacre (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This is the first of a second set of five books generously donated to me by a fellow Devotee who is passing along duplicates for me to spotlight here on the blog. Words really cannot express how awesome and kind this individual is for helping me out like this! And this is a lovely addition to my library!
January 27, 2019 Comments Off on Of Interest: The Original Heritage Press Announcement from 1935
Recently a Devotee was nice enough to offer to mail me a pamphlet containing the announcement of the creation of the Heritage Press, which I am presenting to you below in full. It’s really neat to have this fascinating piece of George Macy ephemera, and I hope you enjoy learning more about the initial six books and the formation of the Press!
Thank you Richard!
4/14/2019 Update – I have learned that this was scanned and put into pdf form for the Devotees before it was mailed to me, so I will update my somewhat blurry pictures into these scans in the near future.
January 12, 2019 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier (1930)
Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier (1930)
LEC #4/1st Series V. 4 in 1930
Artwork: Vignette on the title page was done by Alice Hubbard Stevens. Otherwise unillustrated.
Foreword by George S. Bryan
#1441 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding – Let’s take a brief respite from Shakespeare to cover what is currently the oldest LEC I own and on the blog as of today: Snow-Bound by John Greenleaf Whittier. This was the fourth volume issued by the Limited Edition Club way back in January of 1930, meaning it’s 89 years old this month! It was also the debut of Carl Purington Rollins to the halls of the Club, but we’ll discuss him momentarily.
Whittier was one of America’s most vocal abolitionists as well as a notable poet — Snow-Bound won him a fair amount of acclaim upon its publication in 1865, and his writings on anti-slavery remain in the discourse of U.S. History. Macy fancied his work quite a bit, given the very early publication of Snow-Bound by the Club. Sadly, the title did not earn much accolades from the readership according to the Quarto; he sadly recites a brief anecdote on how one member was so offended to pay $10 for “so slim a book”. Whittier would see a collection of his poetry released in 1945 by the LEC and Heritage Press, and unlike this edition would feature multiple illustrations, done by painter Raymond J. Holden.
Rollins was the printing maestro of Yale University Press, and his debut emphasizes his book design philosophy. Macy was obviously pleased by this edition based on his comments below. Rollins took the title literally with his design, making every component suggest the wintry powder Whittier espouses throughout his poem. The paper is textured and distinctly white, the font gives the impression of snow falling from the sky, and the ornamental letters hide little snowflake adornments within. And the binding of course swirls itself like a blizzard. It evokes the season quite well.
Design Notes – Here’s what the Quarto-Millenary has to say about the design:
Title Page – The title page doesn’t mention its introduction writer, George S. Bryan, who provides a brief foreword. The vignette was designed by Alice Hubbard Stevens, marking the debut of the first woman artist to the Limited Editions Club (and would, to my knowledge, not return for a second commission).
Colophon – This is #1441 of 1500, and was signed by Rollins.
Bibliography – Unlike most LECs, the earlier editions did include a bibliography of earlier titles. I believe volume 6 in the first series, Two Medieval Tales, does the same.
Example of the typeface:
Personal Notes – I purchased this from Old Capitol Books in Monterey on my recent vacation. It has actually been there since 2008, waiting for someone to give it a home. With my last visit, I decided to bring it to mine. It’s neat having a book from the first series after all this time, 10 years into collecting these!