Heritage Press – The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1943)

The Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann (1944)
Sandglass Number II:16
Artwork: Lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Prologue by Steiner-Prag, translated by “various hands”
Reprint of LEC #146, 14th Series, V. 6 in 1943.

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – Happy Halloween! And it’s a new post from me at last. Today, let’s feature the German master of horror, Herr Hoffmann. This is a bit of a curio from the Club; E.T.A. Hoffmann does not have the “classic” status of some of his contemporaries here in America, although according to Macy he was definitely well-regarded in his native Germany and even noted that a reader of Hoffmann would be consider having “a high I.Q.” This was the sole work from Hoffmann printed for the LEC and the Heritage Press.

Hugo Steiner-Prag is not unfamiliar to this blog, unlike the author of this work; Herr Steiner-Prag has appeared multiple times. In fact, I believe that beyond the LEC Measure for Measure, we have now documented all of his work for the George Macy Company with this post. His short but storied run is documented on Tartuffe (which, after taking a quick look at that post, reminds me how much I need to clean up all those old posts). He is a great fit for the tense texts of Hoffmann, as you will see. Alas, this was his final work for either club, as he passed away during the production of the LEC edition of this work shortly after submitting his contribution.

Design Notes – The designer is not mentioned in the Sandglass, but Django6924 alerted me that the LEC colophon mentions that Steiner-Prag was the designer. Steiner-Prag was “obsessed” with Hoffmann according to Django, and I think that his artwork, design work and prologue serve as a declaration of that obsession. The font chosen was Waverly, with Walbaum utilized for the headlines. Westcott and Thomson composed the type, and Ferris Printing Company handling the printing. George Miller printed the lithographs. The paper is from Chillicothe Paper Company specially made for this edition (with a comment about its quality despite being in the middle of World War II). Russell-Rutter handled the bindery duties. Steiner-Prag composed the designs for the cover, which Macy observes may have been his final piece of art before his death. The cloth is a rough, blue-gray Dutch linen.




Title Page – Steiner-Prag has the notable distinction of serving not only as illustrator, but as the introduction writer as well. This is a little unusual; I can’t think of another instance I’ve come across this in Macy’s tenure, as well as the later owners of the Clubs. It’s also unusual in that Steiner-Prag decided to write his own tale instead of a literary essay; Django explains it as “the record of a ghostly encounter Steiner-Prag had with Hoffman. Strange, and much in the nature of one of Hoffman’s own tales.” So, this is certainly a unique volume in the annals of the LEC/Heritage Press canon.

Examples of the lithographs by Steiner-Prag (right click and open in new tab for full size):


Personal History – I picked this up from Second Time Around Used Books in Merced, CA while I still worked there. Since I left, there’s been an increase in Heritage titles there. Haven’t gotten around to reading the stories yet, but I am certainly intrigued.



Updated 2/25/2018 ~ JF

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 Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (1943)

The Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (1943)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Lithographs by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Prepared, Edited and Commentated by Louis Untermeyer
Part of the Heritage American Poets Series

Reprint of LEC #153/15th Series V. 1 in 1943

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – Welcome to our first American Poets title!  There’s quite a few of these, all with the same bland boards on the front and back, saving its creativeness for an patriotic spine (which you can see below).  Louis Untermeyer (didn’t I just talk about him?) served as the Editor for this series.  Others include Longfellow, Bryant, Whittier, Dickinson, and Emerson (from a quick ABE Books scan), with Dickinson being the last LEC reprinted in 1952.  Poe’s was the first, originally done in 1943 by the Limited Editions Club and thus redone by the Heritage Press in this exclusive series.  Curiously, they omitted Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass despite the collection being among the most reprinted of any of Macy’s books.

Anyway, this is our first Edgar Allan Poe post, but there is no shortage of future posts about the Gothic master.  The fifth book the LEC ever produced was Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (which bizarrely had a Heritage reprint – a scarcity for a book done this early in the LEC lifeline!) in 1929.  In 1941 his Tales of Mystery and Imagination would be printed, followed up by this particular book in 1943.  With most everything major printed, Macy would retire from Poe’s works, but Sid Shiff revisited The Fall of the House of Usher in 1985 with its own edition.  I have Heritage copies of the first two, so expect those down the road.

Herr Steiner-Prag has been documented before for his work on Tartuffe – his full career with the George Macy Company is there (and will be revised in the future), but I will add here that this was his last LEC before his passing in 1945.  As usual, his work is astounding.

Spine – All of the American Poets books have this spine design.

Title Page – Steiner-Prag does a very good Poe portrait, that he does.  Untermeyer provides commentary to the poems on top of preparing and editing them, and that is a lovely logo of the Heritage Press Sandglass there!  I should scan that for the blog’s Gravatar.

Page 11 – A little more surrealist than Tartuffe, but amazing none the less.

Page 15

Personal Notes – I got this one for $5 in Jamestown, California this past summer.  It has no Sandglass or slipcase, but the book was in nigh-perfect condition, and it was $5.  I tend to not pass up books that low for documenting!…although I am keeping this one thanks to how nice it is.  With any luck I’ll get a slipcase and Sandglass in the future for it.

If you have a LEC of this book or a Sandglass for the Heritage New York printing, please drop me a line here or through the comments at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  I could use extra insights into this book.  Thanks!

Heritage Press: Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)

Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)
Sandglass Number XII: 17
Artwork: Lithographic Drawings by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Introduced by John T. Winterich, with endnotes by Paul Elmer More
Heritage Press Exclusive

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – The Heritage Press took to their own devices from time to time, printing books that the Limited Editions Club did not.  In some cases, these were alternative versions to books the LEC had published, like in the case of Salome.  However, they also printed their own books that the LEC never did, and Lord Byron’s Don Juan is a prime example.  The book has a lovely yellow binding with a nice pattern designed and drawn by Hugo Steiner-Prag, the book’s artist.  The Russell-Rutter Company performed the binding.  Steiner-Prag was also responsible for the lovely LEC Tartuffe I covered a while back, plus being the editor and illustrator of The Tales of Hoffman, as well as doing the LEC Shakespeare Measure for Measure.  The Sandglass gushes about his works for the Club extensively, as well as covering his life fairly well, too.  These illustrations are the last of Steiner-Prag’s work for either press, as he died shortly after completing the work for this volume.  The Sandglass neglects to indicate the designer of this book – usually, that means that George Macy himself was responsible, but I’ll see if any of my fellow LEC collectors have any definitive info.  The back board lacks the black block with the decorated “B”.

Title Page – A rather attractive title page greets the reader upon flipping open the book.  Steiner-Prag’s lithographs were reproduced by George C. Miller, who the Sandglass piles on this praise: “a New York printer of lithographs who is really the printer of lithographs in this country since he has no competitor.”  Wow – compliments from Mr. Macy were quite handsome, indeed!  The book was printed by The Stratford Press in New York.  The verses are in Baskerville font, while the running-heads and canto numerals are Linoscript, and the canto headings are Sylvan.  As par the course, specially-made paper for this edition came from the Crocker-Burbank Mills in Massachusetts.  While the book’s title page fails to mention him, John T. Winterich offers a brief Introduction, and Paul Elmer More worked on some notes for the text that follow the poem.  Byron’s work here is an epic poem about the popular literary figure Don Juan (Bernard Shaw fans may recognize the name if they’ve dove into Man & Superman, as Juan makes an appearance in Act III, and has often overshadowed the rest of the work).  Byron may have wrote it into stanzas, but he intended it to be treated like a novel, if the Sandglass is to be believed.  They also refer to this Juan as being unlike the Spanish legend, but I haven’t read it, so I can’t really agree or disagree with their claim.  It is a social satire, and was hugely successful in his time.  More about Byron and his “Byronic” writing style can be read in the Sandglass below.

Page 24 – Steiner-Prag’s work is something that has grown on me as of late, making me appreciate his eye to detail and exquisite shading techniques the more I look at them.

Page 56 – Another nice piece from the book.  Really moody.

Personal Notes – You know, I’m not really sure where I got this one.  I apparently paid $4.00 for it!  It was either the Oakhurst or Mariposa Libraries, I’m sure.  It didn’t come with a slipcase, but it was in rather good shape with a Sandglass.  I like it quite a bit, but I’ve yet to find another around to consider getting a slipcase for it.  *shrugs*

Limited Editions Club: Tartuffe, or the Hypocrite by Moliere (1930)

Tartuffe, or the Hypocrite by Moliere (1930)
Second Series, Book # 16 (4th in the series)

Artwork: Lithograph illustrations by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Translated into Verse by Curtis Hidden Page, who also provides a Preface. Introduced by Brander Matthews.
#1005 out of 1500

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – A very enticing binding, with a striking relief of Moliere’s profile towards the center of the front board (the back lacks this). Here’s what Django6924 had to say about this book:

Tartuffe, designed as well as illustrated by Herr Steiner-Prag, lithos pulled by Meissner & Buch: Leipzig. The binding is half natural linen, with mould-made Japanese paper sides. No Heritage Press edition exists of this (again, of the first 10 years of the LEC, maybe only half ever had reincarnations as Heritage press books (using the same illustrator, designer, etc.), although many years later the LEC, and then the Heritage Press did a 2 play Moliere volume containing Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman, in translations by H Baker and J Miller, and illustrations in color by Serge Ivanoff. I can’t offer any comment on the merits of this translation as opposed to the one by Page, but I have to say I think Steiner-Prag’s black and white lithos far superior to Ivanov’s beautiful, but somewhat characterless illustrations for Tartuffe–although Ivanoff’s work seems better suited to The Would-Be Gentleman.

In the Quarto-Millenary, Macy has this to say about the Steiner-Prag edition: “This is one of the ten finest books we have ever issued to our members, yet it is one of the ten least popular. O tempora, o mores!”

Below is a larger view of the relief.


Spine – The text is upside down. Moliere’s name is actually at the bottom of the spine when the book is correctly flipped to be read.


Title Page – The first Tartuffe the club put out was translated by Curtis Hidden Page (a man born for books, let me tell you), who also provides a small preface before the play begins. Before that, Brander Matthews gives the introduction. Hugo Steiner-Prag gives the comedy some most excellent illustrations in his first work for the Club. He did not return to the LEC until his Shakespeare commission in 1939, resulting in his rendering Measure for Measure for Macy. Next was The Tales of Hoffman (which he also provided the Introduction for) and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, both in 1943. He passed away shortly after completing the work for Poe. Lord Byron’s Don Juan was also illustrated by Steiner-Prag for the Heritage Press, also in 1943. A short but brilliant collaboration, if you ask me. This particular book was printed by Poeschel & Trepte in Leipzig, Germany, which also happened to be where Steiner-Prag resided.

Signature Page – Here’s my limitation number: 1005 out of 1500. Steiner-Prag’s signature is in pencil (sorry for its faintness).

Introduction – A moody piece of the play’s lead, Tartuffe, a man with “many faces”. This page is right after the Introduction and Preface, preceding the play’s beginning.

Page 41 – Steiner-Prag was brilliant with lighting, as is evident here.

Page 57 – My favorite piece in this book.

Personal Notes – Purchased at Moe’s in Berkeley for $25, but it was not my first exposure to the book. My favorite shop of all in Monterey Bookhaven (now Old Captiol) had a copy that a dog had unfortunately sunk its teeth into the top right corner, but I had to argue with myself not to buy damaged goods. The binding was just that captivating. This copy has no chew marks, and was wrapped in a sufficient piece of butcher paper with some tissue protecting the relief from harm. The slipcase is a little battered, but the book is relatively unscathed. Lucky me!

I’ve read some of Tartuffe, as well as watching the Gerard Depardieu film, so I have some familiarity with this play, but not as much as, say, Macbeth or Cyrano de Bergerac. I’ll have to reread it soon!

And be sure to check out the post on the later printing!

LEC Newsletter

Page 3 is omitted due to it being a preview of a later book.

Updated 7/6/2012 – JF