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!
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.
December 31, 2018 Comments Off on Of Interest: Illinois Gear & Machine Co. Heritage Press Volumes
It was brought to my attention that the Heritage Press created several exclusive variants of their volumes for the Illinois Gear & Machine Co. As my good friend Django6924 explains:
The Illinois Gear books were a special lot done produced over several years for that Chicago Company to give as gifts. This was on a different business plan than the leather-bound editions of books such as the HP David Copperfield, Leaves of Grass, Life on the Mississippi, etc., which were offered to Club members during the regular series. The Illinois Gear books look very much to be forerunners of the Easton Press editions, with silk moiré end papers and elaborate gilt tooling on the leather binding. Mine has the tipped-in, slip sheeted presentation page (but no name handwritten in the “Especially For” blank), and is the letterpress-printed Tales of the Gold Rush by Bret Harte. The copyright date is 1944, the date of the original, and that may be when the pages were actually printed as the paper and printing look to be much earlier than what was typical by the 1969 date on the presentation page.
The leather binding on my copy is very durable pebble-grained leather. It is much superior to the leather used on my HP Rubaiyat, Song of Songs, and David Copperfield, which were offered to Heritage Club members at a price premium during the regular subscription series. Although I don’t care for the pasted-in silk moiré endpapers, the book is very handsome and still looks new.
Michael Bussacco had produced a list of known titles released in this subset of publications, which GMD user astronauteric expanded upon in this thread. Here’s a typed version of the entire list:
1954 The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon by Washington Irving
1955 Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
1956 The Romance of Leonardo Da Vinci
1957 Life of Rembrandt
1958 This is the Hour: A Novel about Goya
1959 Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
1960 The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
1961 Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
1962 The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
1963 Kim by Rudyard Kipling
1964 The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper
1965 The Ambassadors by Henry James
1966 Stories of O. Henry
1967 Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana
1968 The Mill and the Floss by George Eliot
1969 Tales of the Gold Rush by Bret Harte
1970 Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau
1971 The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
1972 would be the year (thereabouts) MBI bought the Heritage Press from Jonathan Macy, so it is fitting that these editions would end following that transaction.
The notable differences are the bindings, of course, which are rather nice leather-bound covers with exquisite design work. Slipcases were also included, and feature an additional title page with the company’s name and a space for a particular client/customer name to be added.
I do not own any of these nor have I come across one in my travels, but there are a few links to samples in the above link. If I do see one at a reasonable price I’ll be sure to pick it up and catalog it here!
October 7, 2018 § 2 Comments
I meant to bring this to the blog earlier, so I apologize for the delay. George Macy Devotee SteveJohnson has taken it upon themselves to create a spreadsheet covering all of the LEC and Heritage Press publications, working from resources such as the Devotees forum, Bill Majure’s work, the official bibliographies, Michael Bussacio’s work on the Heritage Press, my blog, and others. It’s an astounding project and one I wish to support, so I am pleased to be able to give it a little more of a spotlight that it deserves. It’s a work in progress so expect it to update periodically.
February 25, 2018 § 2 Comments
Hello dear readers! I may not have gotten any new books in a bit but I did have some time to fix up four posts here on the site!
Histories of Herodotus now has its LEC newsletter (thanks to Devotee kdweber)
Barchester Towers has had its two separate posts merged into one for comparative purposes.
Tales of Hoffmann and Gargantua and Pantagruel now have their Sandglasses included.
With these updates I also went through to make sure I had gotten all of my newsletters and such posted for the Heritage titles in my collection, and I am now up to date on that front as well.
Many of the older posts could use some touching up on many fronts, but that’s not a major priority in my life at this time, alas. But I am happy to get these loose ends taken care of! I’ll see you once I acquire more books or find myself with the motivation to work on polishing up the aforementioned posts.
January 14, 2018 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
Limited Editions Club:
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
LEC #292/27th Series V. 1 in 1958
Artwork: Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduced by Angela Thirkell
#403 of 1500.
Click to see larger views.
Front Binding – Happy 2018 everyone! I am not entirely sure how frequent this blog will see updates without any new books to spotlight beyond this one at present, but I will continue to post new titles that come into my hands as they enter my library — I promise you that!
Our first post in 2018 is not the first for either author nor artist; in fact, we’ve spotlighted them both TOGETHER way back when with the Heritage reprint of The Warden, which predated this book by three years. You can take a look at the Heritage edition I previously reviewed below. Anthony Trollope would only see these two works printed by the Limited Editions Club, with both decorated by Fritz Kredel’s graceful hand. As for Fritz, he hasn’t been spotlighted since 2013’s post on The Decameron, so it’s nice to welcome him back, especially since he was the most utilized of all illustrators by George Macy and his family over the LEC tenure. This is a very representative example of his output; expertly done and apropos of the story within. For his entire LEC/Heritage bibloiography, see here.
Design Notes – Designer Richard Ellis was recruited to continue the tradition he established with The Warden (a theme for this book, as we will see shortly). Ellis is no stranger to the blog at this point; I even reposted a complete LEC/Heritage bibliography just for him from Devotee featherwate! We last saw his work with the Heritage exclusive The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The font chosen was Bell (much like The Warden), which was printed by Clarke & Way on Curtis paper. The letter makes a note about the paper being infused with titanium to minimize showthrough. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter binded the project, with a black levant-grain leather with Kredel supplying a decoration stamped in gold leaf alongside the title and publisher. The boards have a patterned paper, and it seems to be radically different batches used midway through as I’ve seen two copies of this LEC and they did not share the same paper! Kredel’s artwork was reproduced via gravures by the Photogravure and Color Company and subsequently colored by Walter Fischer’s studio. Each of the forty drawings had four separate stencils created for each to maximize closeness to Kredel’s originals. These stencils were then carefully used to color each illustration by hand to match up. More can be seen in the Letter below!
Title Page – Angela Thirkell, who also provided a preface for The Warden, steps back in to provide the same treatment for this book. Trollope’s two books essentially had the exact same crew backing them, which is sort of unique for the Club. The big selling point of the LEC upgrade is the upgrade to Kredel’s colors, which the Heritage reprint does not come close in replicating:
As was frequent in Heritage reprints of this era, the color choice was radically simplified.
Colophon – This is copy 403 of 1500 and signed by Kredel. My first LEC from him!
Examples of the Illustrations by Kredel (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – I picked this up for store credit as Old Capitol Books in Monterey when I was down there for Christmas…this is like the 15th LEC of theirs I’ve bought I’m pretty sure. I’ll have to check one of these days…
LEC Newsletter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1958)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork – Illustrations by Fritz Kredel
Introduced by Angela Thirkell
Reprint of LEC #292/27th Series V. 1 in 1958
Click the images for larger views.
Front Binding – A nicely designed pattern for the boards on this book, with a brown spine. Shame it’s been sunned somehow, but it is a library book, after all.
Page 18 – Lovely, lovely work. The woman’s face to the right of the carriage is amazing; I’ll need to check and see how it looks in the LEC.
Personal Notes – Back when I was reviewing library books, I picked this up to document from the Mariposa library. It’s seen its fair share of readers, I can say that much.
August 13, 2017 § 2 Comments
The Story of Reynard the Fox by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1954))
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Introduced by Edward Lazare, translated by Thomas James Arnold
Reprint of LEC #242, 23rd Series, V. 10
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Hello dear readers! Today’s post features an illustrator I hold most dear; the masterful Fritz Eichenberg, who has made quite an impression on this blog with his exquisite woodcuts and other art scattered throughout the Limited Editions Club, the Heritage Press and a few non-Macy publications. His Macy bibliography is covered in The Brothers Karamazov. But here we get to see a slightly different side to Eichenberg as the majority of his engravings feature animals over humans (although humankind is represented here in the book), giving it much more of a fantastical edge. This is an epic poem from the legendary Germanic author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, although it is not the first appearance of the character Reynard the Fox — according to the introduction the fox has been around at least since the medieval period, with some variants of the tale appearing in Ghent (1148), German (1180), France (1175-1250), and Flemish (early 13th century). English has its earliest version appearing in the thirteenth century as well, alongside an Italian version. In short, Reynard has been around a long time, although it is a particularly excellent spin on this iconic tale that George Macy chose to publish.
Goethe makes his debut on our blog at last, as noted one of the German masters of literature and quite a well-rounded contributor to Germanic academia: among his many talents (including literature) were expertise in art, philosophy, science, diplomacy, architecture and botany. However, we will focus on his skill with the written word, of which George Macy printed two examples of (and his wife Helen a third). The play Faust was the first, issued as a LEC in 1932 starring Rene Clarke’s talents. A Heritage exclusive of the same work was issued later on with Eugene Delacroix’s artwork, possibly in 1959 (I don’t have a copy in front of me to confirm my quick research on ABEBooks; I will update this once I do). I believe it uses the same text as the LEC. Next came this epic poem in 1954 for both clubs, followed by what may be his greatest novel Wilheim Meister’s Apprenticeship in 1959, featuring William Sharp as artist. Not printed by Macy or his other clubs would be the contender for Goethe’s greatest novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, which helped propagate the worldwide literary movement of Romanticism.
Design Notes – The original LEC was designed by Eugene M. Ettenberg, who likely carried his designer title over to the Heritage edition as well. The font is Janson. I don’t have a Sandglass unfortunately so I can’t get too much more into the details than those observations in the Quarto.
Title Page – I really like this decoration Eichenberg crafted up for this page. Edward Lazare stepped in to provide a new introduction to this work, which was translated by Thomas James Arnold.
Examples of the Illustrations by Eichenberg (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – This was another title Liz sent me last year. I plan to upgrade to a LEC down the road, but will hold on to this title until that day comes.