Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936/1954)

April 23, 2017 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936/1954)

Before beginning this post proper, let me give a brief explanation for this post. This is the second time I will be covering all publications of a particular work by the George Macy Company that was printed in two unique LEC editions (the first was Tartuffe, although that was done in two posts). I’ll be starting with the earlier book first, and then cover the later LEC and Heritage reprint (the latter previously covered on the blog). Also, I accidentally mislabeled the date on the update, but I don’t want to relink everything more than once, so I’m leaving it as an April 2017 post. :p

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1936)
LEC #80/7th Series V. 10 in 1936
Artwork: Watercolors by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated and Introduced by Brian Hooker

#510 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

Front Binding – I am a nut about Cyrano de Bergerac (which I’ll get into below). So, I am beyond pleased to tell you that there are two Limited Editions Club variants of this fine play…although there is a very complex history behind the publication of both of these lovely books. But we’ll get to that momentarily.

Edmond Rostand, another of the legendary French playwrights (alongside Moliere, of course), had several other dramas beyond Cyrano spring forth from his pen, but none seemed to resonate the same way as his epic retelling of the eccentric de Bergerac. The George Macy Company didn’t feel compelled to create books for any of his other works, but being printed in two separate LEC volumes is relatively rare, so kudos to Rostand for that achievement (and having two spectacular artists doing your work justice at that!).

So this book has some significant backstory behind it, which I’ll happily share. This is retold from the Sandglass at the very bottom of this post. Before the war, when the Club was initially beginning the planning of this edition, Jacques LeClercq was going to be the book’s translator. He had performed the task and submitted it the LEC, but Macy and his partners felt that LeClercq did not recapture Cyrano‘s talents at poetry in English, or as the Sandglass puts it, “he had not made real poems out of the ‘set pieces'”. This was disappointing to Macy as LeClercq had done plenty of work for him that he felt did the original work justice, but just couldn’t print this particular translation.

While the text was being puzzled over, the other half of the book’s design was also having its own problems. The Club wanted to utilize Pierre Brissaud, who had recently made a big splash for the Heritage edition of The Story of Manon Lescaut which had just come out earlier in the year. Brissaud had completed his set of illustrations, but prior to sending them off to the LEC Europe began sinking into the chaotic web that begat World War II. Brissaud made himself scarce as Germany’s forces entered Paris, and vanished for over a decade from any contact with Macy or the LEC.

Now, this is all from the Heritage Press’ perspective, and I do not have access to the Monthly Letter of the second edition, and the letter for this book doesn’t mention any of this. The Quarto as well is mum on the matter, only delving into design notes for both. So, for now I am presuming that the Brissaud/LeClercq edition was originally scheduled as a LEC edition, not only as a Heritage exclusive. Once I know for sure I will update this post.

Either way, with Brissaud unable to get his illustrations out of Europe during the war and LeClercq’s translation deemed inappropriate, the project shifted gears. The LEC settled on Brian Hooker’s translation — popular at the time and still held with regard in dramatic circles — along with recruiting another French watercolorist, Sylvain Sauvage, to handle the art. The first truly was a desperate book…which makes it all the more remarkable it turned out as nice as it did.

Sauvage hasn’t been discussed as much as I would like on this blog, but we do have some history on him over at our Zadig post. As a pitch hitter, he scored a home run in my opinion, as his work is absolutely gorgeous here. There are twelve full page watercolor illustrations reprinted here in color collotype.

Design Notes – My edition came with the announcement card, so I’ll let that speak for the volume:

The binding, while novel for the blog, was modeled after the design utilized by the Club for Sauvage’s handling of the Anatole France novel At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque, and would see one more reuse for another France edition, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. Images for both courtesy of Oak Knoll Books. It has two sides, so the back is also included below. Our featured book was designed and printed by Edmund B. Thompson at Hawthorn House. Curiously, the France novels were done by different designers: William A. Kittredge of the Lakeside Press for the Queen, and Edward Alonzo Miller for Crime.

Now if you read that note closely, you’ll notice it states the rust-colored linen is stamped in a blue and gold pattern; however, the “blue” appears brown to my eyes on my copy and others I’ve seen online. So perhaps it was originally blue but time has discolored it, or an alternative was used after this was printed. Again, this book was a bit of a pickle for Macy, so it may just be another detail that had to be changed at the last minute. And since the note lacks the detail, ever at the ready bindery Russell-Rutter performed that task.

Back Binding – This is a classic scene from the play, where Christian attempts to woo Roxane with the help of Cyrano speaking on his behalf.

Spine

Slipcase – The slipcase includes the limitation number, a relative rarity for the LEC, but it does happen on occasion.

Title Page – The book has an exquisite title page with the play’s dramatic final moments spotlighted here (perhaps an odd choice to have the end be your centerpiece for the title page, but with art this well executed it’s hard to complain). This edition never saw a Heritage reprint.

Colophon – Here Sauvage provides his signature (nice to have one!), and this is copy #510 of 1500.

Examples of the Text and Illustrations by Sauvage:

Page 3 – Each act begins with a nice curtained backdrop surrounding Rostand’s notes setting up the scene.

Page 20 – Sauvage’s gorgeous watercolors are an ideal fit for the world of Cyrano. Brissaud is a very close second, but I do have to give the artistic edge to the older edition. Here Cyrano steps up to shut down the play of his rival, Montfleury.

Page 36 – Here Cyrano has outclassed snotty marquis Valvert both in verse and by the sword.

Personal Notes – This book was created in chaos, and apparently I needed a relic of such a time for my own personal chaos, as I acquired this from an online seller as my marriage was dissolving last year. I wanted to fill three huge holes in my collection with an influx of money that had come in, and both Cyrano LECs and the Popol Vuh (which will likely be the next post) fit the bill, with reasonably priced copies in good condition available for all three books. I am thankful to finally have this book, as it was on my wishlist for a long while. And while I wish it didn’t have to come to me in a time where I was trying to ignore the reality of my life on the precipice of changing forever, I still cherish it for what it is, not for what time it entered my life.

LEC Newsletter:

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)
LEC # 240/22th Series V. 8 in 1954
Artwork: Ilustrations by Pierre Brissaud
Translated and Introduced by Louis Untermeyer
#990 of 1500. Heritage Edition discussed below.

Front Binding – And so we turn to the 1954 edition, one of the last books overseen by Macy himself (he served as designer for both the LEC and Heritage editions) before his death and the fulfillment of at least half of the idealized edition of the play he had set out to make in the first place. When the Club finally reconnected with Brissaud in 1952, they offered him the chance to print his Cyrano with the lost art they were unable to originally use. Brissaud’s response? “…In the intervening years he had certainly grown older and possibly wiser, that he certainly ought to make a new set of pictures – which would be better pictures.” So he did twenty five brand new illustrations, done with pen and brush watercolors, which were printed for the LEC by the Photogravure and Color Company in key black, then hand colored by Walter Fischer to match up with Brissaud’s originals. And thus the edition now before you was printed. But LeClercq, the translator intended to pair with Brissaud, was still unseen in the edition. As the Sandglass below explains, the Club apparently had the intention of printing this book again while the LEC original would never be printed as a Heritage edition, and Louis Untermeyer was subsequently recruited to do his own translation for the second edition. Personally, I find it one of the best — if not the best — I’ve read of this production, and I adore this play.

Since this post originally served as a means of sharing Brissaud’s bibliography with the Club, let’s go ahead and cover that again. He had a decent run for Macy, with three Limited Editions Club titles, which are Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1950) and Saint-Simon’s Memoirs (1954) along with Cyrano. He also rendered the Heritage Press exclusive The Story of Manon Lescaut as noted above. Manon Lescaut was issued in 1936, but Brissaud had disappeared during the chaos of World War II (as observed above), and would not return to the Macy fold until 1950 with Madame Bovary. He passed away in 1964.

Design Notes – Courtesy of the Quarto and the Colophon, here’s what I can tell you. As I mentioned earlier, Macy himself designed the book.The Marchbanks Press handled printing duties after the text was set by David Goldman’s team at Empire Typographers. Curtis Paper was used, and the binding was done again by Russell-Rutter. The font is Times Roman, with News Gothic for character names. The binding is a full patterned brocade with a tan leather label stamped in gold.

Spine

Slipcase

Frontispiece – Right before the title page is this fantastic curtain call illustration by Brissaud, which I think perfectly suits Cyrano. A fine way to start a book! There is a bit more color to the LEC in contrast to the Heritage, as I will provide below.

Title Page – Untermeyer was no stranger to the Macy publications at this point, with several introductions and a few other contributions under his belt by the time Cyrano came out. This may be his unsung opus, though. He also provides an intro for this volume.

Colophon – Much more relaxed in style than Sauvage’s. This is #990 of 1500 and Brissaud provides his signature.

Pages 16 – 17 – Christian and Ligniere chat about Roxane, before the performance of Montfleury. De Guiche can be seen talking to Roxane in the balcony. Brissaud does a splendid job illustrating Cyrano much like Sauvage did; I find both premiere treatments of the classic. I think I like the execution of Sauvage’s watercolors just a touch more due to being full-page prints versus the majority of in-text ones Brissaud created. Both are marvelous though.

Pages 76-77 – Here De Guiche, the major antagonist of the play, shows up to recruit Cyrano to his side after seeing his skills at poetry and swordplay.

Personal Notes – I got this at the same time as the original LEC of the play from another online seller, and it replaced my Heritage edition.

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1954)
Sandglass Number IX:18
Artwork: Ilustrations by Pierre Brissaud
Translated and Introduced by Louis Untermeyer
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC # 240/22th Series V. 8 in 1954

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – This feathery design was done through a specifically designed marbled cloth, modeled after the 17th century French style. The Press calls it an unusual material for them. It’s on both the front and the back. My first copy did not come with a slipcase, but the second did, and it’s a tan color.

Design Notes – Brissaud’s watercolors were done differently here; here they were reproduced as gravures with dark brown ink. From there Brissaud watercolored them all and returned them to the Club. Herbert Rau cut each color into a rubber plate, so that the book’s reproductions would match up to Brissaud’s originals (mostly, as you will see below). The text was set still by Empire Typographers in New York, while the Heritage reprint was reprinted by the Ferris Printing Company on specifically made paper for this edition.

Frontispiece (Heritage left, LEC right) – The Heriage omits the peach and tan tones entirely, and prints the other colors in a different, often lighter tone. They still are effective, but lack the pop that the full color range gives the LEC edition.

Title Page – I’m impressed the red was reused here; oftentimes Heritage editions strip out extra colors on title pages.

Page 16

Page 65 – Cyrano and Roxane share a moment after the scene with the poets. I think this is definitive proof of Brissaud being an ideal match for Rostand’s classic.

Bonus Pamphlet – Along with a Sandglass, the Heritage Press included a comparison between Cyrano’s famous “nose” speech in Act I, and how it has been translated over the years (including LeClercq’s unused translation). A rather fascinating document!

Personal Notes – Acquired at a Oakhurst library sale, this was my third Heritage Press book (The Aeneid and Sherlock Holmes preceding it). It’s arguably the one that clued me into discovering that there was a particular press making all these exquisite books I was getting. I’ve become hopelessly devoted to these literary treasures. I considered this one of my absolute favorite books in my collection…until I replaced it with the LEC, but now that edition is treasured as such! As I mentioned, I love this play, and I found Untermeyer’s translation very readable and smooth. Having been a part of this dramatic production as De Guiche for my local college, I consider it to be a great way of remembering the good times being in this show. Brissaud’s excellent art is a great cherry on top, although I have to give the LEC the edge for its extra coloring.

Sandglass:

Updated 6/23/2017 – JF

Heritage Press – The Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (1943)

October 17, 2011 § 6 Comments

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 – The Wonderful Adventures of Paul Bunyan, retold by Louis Untermeyer (1973, Connecticut)

October 16, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Wonderful Adventures of Paul Bunyan, retold by Louis Untermeyer (1973, Connecticut)

The Wonderful Adventures of Paul Bunyan, retold by Louis Untermeyer (1973, Connecticut)
Sandglass Number: XI – R : 40
Artwork – Pen-and-ink drawings by Everett Gee Jackson, with some colored with crayons and printed to resemble paintings
Foreword by Louis Untermeyer
Reprint of LEC #167/16th Series V. 3 in 1945

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – As this is a Connecticut reprint, I must say this is one of their better boards (although, as usual, the New York original is superior) for a Macy era title.  Anyway, the folk tale of Paul Bunyan is one of the few children’s titles printed as a solo Limited Editions Club edition: the fairy tales of Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, Aesop’s Fables and the special Evergreen Tales sets of tales are some others.  However, this retelling of the American classic is fairly special in that Louis Untermeyer, a common ally of the George Macy Company, had his rendition of the tale specifically printed, making it his sole credit as the author of a work for Macy.  Untermeyer would otherwise serve as translator (Cyrano de Bergerac‘s second printing), editor (the second set of Grimm’s Fairy Tales) or introducing a work (The Innocent Voyage) for many projects in the Macy sphere.

Everett Gee Jackson began his career for Macy here, and would go on to render five other books for the Limited Editions Club: The Ugly Duckling for a set of Evergreen Tales in 1949, Popoh Vuh: The Book of the People in 1954, 1957’s The History of the Conquest of Peru by William Hickling Prescott, Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona in 1959 and his last, a collection of American Indian Legends published in 1968.

Slipcase

Title Page – Untermeyer and Jackson both get a half page or so in the Sandglass, so I’ll let that do the talking for me.  What I will speak of is the design info: The original Heritage printing was designed by Richard Ellis.  William F. Fortney of Tapley-Rutter bound the book, the Caslon Old Style text was printed on Mohawk paper by Connecticut Printers, while Jackson’s pictures were redone by Holyoke Lithograph Company of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Page 5 – Jackson did pen-and-ink illustrations for the book…

Page 8 – …as well as these colored illustrations.  These were done in crayon, but printed to resemble paintings.  An appropriate choice in materials, given Bunyan’s folk tale status for children.  Jackson’s style works with the lore, but it’s not really my thing.

Page 40

Personal Notes – I got this rather cheaply from Windows on the World – Books & Art, my former bookselling appointment, but I didn’t realize until I got home it was a Connecticut edition.  Still, I was able to document it before it was sold off to get other Heritage Press books this year.

Sandglass

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