Curios: The Most Popular Authors in the LEC/Heritage canon

March 27, 2015 § 2 Comments

I’m beginning a new tradition here at the Imagery; once in a while, I’d like to present some interesting bit of research or trivia to you. Today, I’ll share the top authors who were published most by the two major arms of the Macy Companies and their successors. I will separate the two presses at first, and then merge the results to see who wins the coveted (imaginary) “Most Popular” status!

Limited Editions Club:

1) William Shakespeare, with 41 individual releases! I’m counting each book in the LEC Shakespeare as its own entity.
2) Mark Twain, with 12 individual releases.
3) Charles Dickens, with 9 individual releases.
3) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 individual releases.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 8 individual releases.
5) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 individual releases.
5) Joseph Conrad, with 8 individual releases.
8) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 individual releases.
8) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 6 individual releases.
10) Gustave Flaubert, with 5 individual releases.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 5 individual releases.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 5 individual releases.
10) Anatole France, with 5 individual releases.
10) Victor Hugo, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jane Austen, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jules Verne, with 5 individual releases.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 5 individual releases.
10) Sir Walter Scott, with 5 individual releases.

Heritage Press:

This is not as simple to document, as there remains an incomplete bibliography of the Heritage Press output. But, relying on the research I’ve done here, I’ll do my best. I’ll only be doing a Top 5 due to the less frequent original publications of this Press.

1) Charles Dickens, with 14 individual releases!
2) William Shakespeare, with 5 individual releases.
3) Mark Twain, with 3 individual releases.
4) Anatole France, with 2 individual releases.
5) Henry James, with 2 individual releases.
5) Washington Irving, with 2 individual releases.
5) Charles Lamb, with 2 individual releases.
5) Homer, with 2 individual releases.
5) Nathaniel Hawthorne, with 2 individual releases.

OVERALL:

1) William Shakespeare, with 46 books to his name in the canon!
2) Charles Dickens, with 23 books.
3) Mark Twain, with 15 books.
4) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 books.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 9 books (I’m including the Heritage Crime and Punishment as a separate release).
6) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 books.
6) Joseph Conrad, with 8 books.
6) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 8 books.
9) Anatole France, with 7 books.
10) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 books.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 6 books.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 6 books.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 6 books.

This list is subject to change, as there may be a Heritage exclusive somewhere I may have missed.

Heritage Press – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)

May 26, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)
Sandglass Number 5N
Artwork: Illustrations by Mariette Lydis
Introduced by Carl Van Doren
Reprint of LEC #199, 19th Series, V. 3, in 1949.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – American-turned-Briton James returns for his third appearance on the blog with The Turn of the Screw, one of his best known works. The prior appearances were Portrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors. Portrait features James’ Macy output. This is a rather bold binding, one we’re discuss shortly. I’m in the middle of reading this myself, and the story is quite solid, I must say.

Our two prior James novels had one-shot artists in charge of their illustrations, but Turn features an alumni of decorating a Macy tome: Mariette Lydis. Granted, she only did three books for the LEC — this, The Beggar’s Opera way back in 1937, and Love’s Labour’s Lost for the LEC Shakespeare line in 1939 — but her style is quite unique and visually striking. She matches the haunting atmosphere of James’ words quite well, in my opinion. This could be because she had illustrated the book before for the Hand and Flower Press of England. Macy’s original intent was to license Lydis’ work from that edition, but upon reconnecting with Lydis (who had moved to Brazil since her last commission) she insisted that she draw anew instead of recycle her older work, and thus a new set of illustrations! More on Lydis can be found in the Sandglass…more than you will find on James, to be honest! According to the Sandglass, this would have been the first time the Company licensed artwork that they themselves did not commission. However, after my initial posting, Django6924 was quick to point out:

Actually, the Sandglass is perhaps being somewhat absent-minded on the matter of reusing illustrations: the LEC in its first half-dozen years re-used Tenniel’s illustrations for the Lewis Carroll books, Kemble’s for Huckleberry Finn, Cruikshank’s for Punch and Judy, W.M. Thackeray’s for The Rose and the Ring though redone by Kredel (not to mention the HP Vanity Fair with Thackeray’s artwork), Hugh Thomson’s for The Cricket on the Hearth, the English version of the 2-volume Salome featuring Beardsley’s artwork, Hoffman’s original artwork for Slovenly Peter (albeit adapted by Kredel), the French version of Flowers of Evil with Rodin’s drawings, The Pilgrim’s Progress with William Blake’s artwork, and the period engravings for Aesop’s Fables, redrawn by Bruce Rogers.

However, in a curious case of memory failure, the Sandglass seems to have also forgotten how Mr. Macy made Ms. Lydis’ acquaintance, for in the Sandglass for The Beggar’s Opera, one reads:

In 1936, she came to New York {from Paris} for an exhibition of her paintings and her book illustrations…While she was here, she was told of The Limited Editions Club’s Second Competition for Book Illustrators, and she immediately submitted a series of lithographs to illustrate The Beggar’s Opera. The judges awarded her one of the prizes.

Things are a bit muddled here, as after winning the prize the LEC Directors decided to produce an illustrated edition of The Beggar’s Opera and had pulls made of Ms. Lydis’ art to illustrate said edition…so, one could say that the cart didn’t come before the horse, but one could as easily say that The Beggar’s Opera illustrations were really done before they were commissioned.

If, since most of these except for the reuse of the Thomson and Blake artwork, the originals were redrawn and/or colored you are willing to say that there was no prior reuse of existing art, then the first acknowledged case of such would either be the use of Piranesi’s etchings for The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire or Pierre Watrin’s illustrations for The Revolt of the Angels.

So, I suppose either the Sandglass author made a critical oversight or their definition of “licensing art” is radically different from ours! Thanks as always to Django6924 for the extra details.

Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks were the designers for this book. Some of their work previously featured on the blog before includes The Three-Cornered Hat and The Revolt of the AngelsThis is yet another brilliant execution of book design. The Marks chose Bembo for the font in a 16-point size, and chose floral “printer’s marks” as ornaments to help give the pages more flourish. The original pages from the LEC were sent to Macy in order to have photographic reproduction done for the Heritage edition; Duenewald Printing Corporation handled the task. Russell-Rutter bound the book with a brown linen with silver leaves elegantly placed to symbolically suggest the “screw”.

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Slipcase

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Title Page – Reader’s Club judge and frequent Introduction writer/book editor Carl Van Doren is summoned once more to give some history to a Macy publication.  He was a major contributor to Macy’s publications, being involved with The Federalist Papers, Penguin Island (LEC), The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Iliad (Heritage) and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (LEC), among others.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this from Bookhaven (now Old Capitol Books) in Monterey two or three years ago. It’s quite a lovely book. The LEC is not all that different design-wise, but the materials are far more exquisite. And, as I said before, the story is (so far) quite good!

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

Heritage Press – The Ambassadors by Henry James (1963)

August 26, 2013 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Ambassadors by Henry James (1963)

The Ambassadors by Henry James (1963)
Sandglass Number I:29
Artwork: Illustrations by Leslie Saalburg
Introduced by James
Reprint of LEC #351, 32nd Series, V. 1 in 1963

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Henry James quickly returns for his second appearance on the blog! Don’t say that I don’t listen to the Devotees! ;)

Anyway, The Ambassadors was the second of his works published by the Limited Editions Club; my prior post on The Portrait of a Lady features his complete Macy bibliography. It’s considered the most autobiographical of his works, and the Sandglass emotes heavily on James’ career for those curious about the American-turned-British author. This is one of those books where the author composed its introduction, as well.

Our artist for The Ambassadors is another of those one-shot illustrators: Leslie Saalburg only contributed this one commission before fading from the George Macy Company and its descendents. His watercolor paintings work well with James, although, much like Colleen Browning of the aforementioned Portrait, the art is not jaw-dropping for me. Perhaps you will disagree!

Design Notes: Richard Ellis designed this book, and he is no newcomer to the Macy canon; the Sandglass notes he did Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Trollope’s Barchester Towers, and a quick review of my blog reveals that he also did Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year, Untermeyer’s Paul Bunyan, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, and Trollope’s The Warden. Well, here’s another! Fairfield in a 12-point size is our font, designed by Macy alum Rudolf Ruzicka. Perpetua, another font designed by another Macy artist, Eric Gill, is used for the title page and initial letters. Ellis himself used calligraphic fleurons and cartouches for chapter and part headers. The Garamond Press tackled the text printing, which was the very shop that issued the first LEC way back in 1929, Gulliver’s Travels! Cream-toned paper from Crocker-Burbank took on these fonts and Saalburg’s illustrations, and Russell-Rutter as usual handled the binding job.

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Slipcase

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TItle Page – James himself gives the introduction, borrowed from a Collected Edition issued in 1909. James also cameos in Saalburg’s artwork: four or five of the watercolors feature the author’s visage! I don’t know if the three selections I’ve chosen showcase this, but Page 49’s illustration does indeed include him; he’s the seated chap on the far right. James is literally everywhere here!

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

Personal Notes – This was acquired at Bookhaven for $10. It was my first acquisition of James, of which I now have three. I haven’t read him yet, but I’ve got plenty to pick from whenever I do!

Updated 12/23/2013 by JF

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

Limited Editions Club – The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (1967)

July 5, 2013 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (1967)

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (1967)
LEC #391/35th Series V. 5 in 1967
Artwork – Illustrations by Colleen Browning
Introduced by R.W. Stallman
LEC #403 of 1500

Click images to see larger views.

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Front Binding – Henry James makes his debut on the blog today, and he has some curiosities in his Heritage portfolio I’d like to address (in a moment). For now, let’s get the production details out of the way:

portrait-annoucement

James was apparently not too high on George Macy’s list of authors; in his lifetime, he only printed The Turn of the Screw in 1949, often considered among the Devotees as the finest of the bunch. Mariette Lydis did a spectacular job with the art on that one; eventually I hope to be able to share it with you. After George Macy passed away, James sort of exploded in printing popularity. The Ambassadors came next in 1963, featuring Leslie Saalburg’s artwork. This was followed by this particular volume in 1967. Daisy Miller proceeded in 1969, starring Gustave Nebel as artist. Last was Washington Square in 1971 with Lawrence Beall Smith’s illustrations. That’s all of the LEC’s, and I believe all of them have Heritage editions. However! The Easton Press oddly resurrected the Heritage Press in the 1990’s to issue two more works of James with the artistic merits of an Alan Phillips; The Europeans and The Bostonians. These can also be found as Easton editions, so I’m not sure why exactly MBI Inc. decided to dust off the Heritage Press label for them.

Colleen Browning has a lengthy bio in the Monthly Letter, but all that verbiage was spent on this sole contribution to the Macy publishing houses. Her pastels work fairly well in the context of a James novel, but I will admit that this particular book is not my favorite set of illustrations. Nice, but not awe-inspiring.

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Spine

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Slipcase

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Title Page – The book continues the title page’s “blue decoration box” motif for its chapter openers. Robert W. Stallman issues the introduction.

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Signature Page – Another #403 for my collection! Browning provides her signature.

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

Personal Notes – I picked this up at Old Capitol Books in Monterey, CA last time I visited. It was around $40 or so, but I traded in some stuff to make it technically a freebie. I am pleased to report that, following the change-over from Bookhaven, Old Capitol is doing swimmingly. I wish them the best, and will continue to shop there on my subsequent visits to Monterey.

Monthly Letter (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

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