Limited Editions Club: The Jaunts and Jollities of Mr. John Jorrocks by R.S. Surtees (1932)

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!

Limited Editions Club: The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)

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.

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!

Heritage Press: The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1938)

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1938)
Sandglass Number XII: 26
Artwork: Paintings and drawings by Gordon Ross
Introduction by John T. Winterich

Part of the Heritage Dickens series (distinction of the Heritage Press); the LEC did their own 2-volume Pickwick Papers in 1933 with John Austen’s illustrations.

Front Binding – All of the Dickens books initially put out by the Heritage Press have this binding detail, although some have different linen colors to help distinguish them. The spine is where the major difference from the other books lurks, as you’ll see below. All were designed by Clarence Hornung.  Another neat thing about this line of books is that the Heritage Press made all of them the same size. All are 6 x 9 inches, and they seem to all have come with red slipcases (the two Dickens I own feature them, as have others I’ve seen in stores). This book was bound by Frank D. Fortney with Interlaken British grey linen (as the Sandglass describes the color). The front and back are identical.

Dickens was hugely popular with both the LEC and Heritage Press, as both put out several (if not all) of his books.  The first LEC was, curiously, The Chimes. Not his most well-known work, but hey, whatever works! The Chimes came out in 1933 with Arthur Rackham’s visual talent. After an initial frenzy of five books in the 1930’s, he would be given a considerable reprieve until 1957, and the LEC would follow with three more in the ’60’s and ’70’s for a grand total of nine. The Heritage Press didn’t take any sort of hiatus, though, starting off with an exclusive David Copperfield (with John Austen doing the art), and then began this lovely series that were mostly original and unique to their Club. You can check out the Heritage Exclusives list for the entire list.

If you don’t mind, I’ll take a very brief diversion to talk about the first six Heritage Press books. When the Heritage Press got started, they kicked off with a special set that LEC members were offered first.  These were done up a little fancier and featured a signature of the artist somewhere within. 1500 copies were made of these, much like the LEC limitation. Macy had suggested to his LEC clientele that perhaps the Eighth Series of LEC’s could be delayed for these special Heritage books to not cause financial duress to the membership. Naturally, there was a slight outrage, so Macy went ahead and put them both out at the same time. This enabled LEC members to cancel their Heritage order if they so wanted. The six books in question includes the David Copperfield I mentioned, plus A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman (Edward A. Wilson), Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Sylvain Sauvage), The Song of Songs (Valenti Angelo), The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone (W.A. Dwiggins), and Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost (Pierre Brissaud). This info is from the LEC Newsletter for Tristram Shandy, the eleventh book of the seventh series in 1935. From what Django6924 at Librarything recalls, David Copperfield was first, meaning that Dickens launched the Heritage Press (to bring this back around)!

Gordon Ross, the illustrator for the Heritage Pickwick, was a fairly busy artist for the George Macy Company, with at minimum three exclusive Heritage books (this, A Complete Elia by Charles Lamb, and Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon) and five LECs, including two other Dickens works. These were A Christmas Carol (1934) and Great Expectations (1937). Obviously he was well suited to the characters of Mr. Dickens! As for the other LEC editions he was involved with, there is The Jaunts and Jollies of Mr. John Jorrocks in 1932, The Merry Wives of Windsor for the LEC Shakespeare issued in 1939, and The Coverly Letters in 1945. We’ll see Mr. Ross again sometime soon.

Spine – Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Snodgrass adorn the spine, taken from Gordon Ross’ paintings.

Title Page – Ross did eight paintings in this book, alongside drawings to introduce each chapter. You’ll get to see three of those paintings and an example of the chapter openers here. The text is Baskerville, designed by John Baskerville. Printed by Case, Lockwood & Brainard of Hartford, CT with paper specially made for this book provided by Crocker-Burkack Comany of Fitchburg, MA.

Page 21

Page 77

Page 17

Personal Notes – I picked this up along with six other books in the first great Heritage Press haul I made, which took place at an Oakhurst library book sale. I acquired Nostromo, A Tale of Two Cities, Rights of Man, Toilers of the Sea and the two volumes of Les Miserables at the same sale. A considerable accomplishment! All for $2 a book and all of them complete, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, I did snag 50 books for $50 in 2012, which dwarfs this considerably, but for a long time it was the best acquisition I had.

I’ve not read this one quite yet. I’ve dabbled with Dickens with A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol, but I’ve yet to get through an entire work of his. I’m not through with him, though! The Sandglass does a considerable job of hyping this up as one of his best.


The LEC version of The Pickwick Papers features illustrator John Austen, but I’m not sure of any other differences these two variants may have beyond the design and artwork.  Any enlightenment would appreciated!  If you have that info, let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Updated 5/28/2012 – JF