The Jaunts and Jollities of Mr. John Jorrocks by R.S. Surtees (1932)
LEC #28/3rd Series V. 4 in 1932
Artwork: Illustrations in watercolor by Gordon Ross
Introduced by A. Edward Newton
LEC #1098 of 1500. LEC exclusive.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Hello friends! For the month of March, I bring not only a new book, but a new design for the blog! I’ll post a separate post on that shortly, but I personally quite like this new look as it captures the feel of the LEC and Heritage Press quite well, and should be easier on the eyes.
The Jaunts and Jollities of Mr. John Jorrocks, by Robert Smith Surtees, is definitely one of the more interesting pulls from the early days of the LEC. The work is not particularly well versed in modern literature studies, but as a contemporary of Dickens, you may find some parallels between the Victorian legend’s Pickwick Papers to Surtees’ lesser known Jorrocks. These are a collection of sketches that Surtees wrote for a sporting magazine of his time, and likely inspired the Dickens novel aforementioned. I have not dove into the collection personally, but they do sound amusing and full of humor. Surtees would not see any other work of his produced by the LEC or the Heritage Press.
Someone who did see more, on the other hand, is illustrator Gordon Ross. This was his first commission for the George Macy Company, which blossomed into a fruitful enterprise with four additional LECs and more than a few Heritage exclusives, which I cover (somewhat ironically) in the Heritage Pickwick Papers post. Ross stuck with his trademark watercolor technique here to excellent effect, as you will see shortly.
Design Notes – D.B. Updike, the “dean of American printers” according to the Monthly Letter, serves as the designer. From the Quarto:
Nice to have George’s comments for one of these books finally! I can add that the dark purple cloth (which appears brown on my copy) was supplied by Interlaken Mills. Ross’ watercolors were printed under the eye of Bert C. Chambers, and they are quite splendidly reproduced.
Slipcase – Occasionally the slipcase would include the limitation number; this is one of those times.
Title Page – I couldn’t get the title page’s illustration to cooperate with me to photograph both together, so I have moved it to the Illustration gallery below. A. Edward Newton provides an introduction — Newton was a avid book collector and fan of Surtees, and seems a fine choice to lead into John’s escapades.
Colophon – This is #1098 of 1500, and Ross signed the colophon.
Examples of Ross’ illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – Last August I took a trip to Berkeley to visit Moe’s Books. I had not been there in years, and had such a grand time the last time I visited I wished to make a return trek. I managed to grab four early LECs, most with letters and all with slipcases, with the same limitation number for a little over $200 — not a bad haul, I’d say! The binding design and Ross’ stunning work within made this a definite pickup, despite my unfamiliarity with the source material. It ought to be an interesting read!