May 28, 2016 § 2 Comments
Hey, remember the trivia category? Well, I’m bringing it back. This time, let’s examine who George Macy and the subsequent owners of the Limited Editions Club commissioned the most over the Club’s long tenure!
10) Sylvain Sauvage (7)
Sauvage illustrated several French classics for the LEC, including Cyrano de Bergerac, The History of Zadig (pictured), and two works of Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard and At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque. He also handled As You Like It in the LEC Shakespeare.
9) Rene ben Sussan (8)
ben Sussan had two commissions of Honore de Balzac, rendering the worlds of Old Goriot and Eugenie Grandet as part of his eight titles for the LEC. He also had a hand in English drama, providing art for Jonson’s Volpone, the Fox and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Pictured is The Chronicle of the Cid.
8) John Austen (8)
Several British works were illustrated by Austen: Vanity Fair (pictured), The Comedy of Errors, The Faerie Queene, The Pickwick Club, and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. He also branched out a little with Aristophanes’ The Birds.
7) Agnes Miller Parker (8)
The sole woman on our list, Parker’s exquisite woodcuts brought life to all of Thomas Hardy’s novels printed by the Club, as well as The Faerie Queene (pictured), Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard, Richard the Second, and The Poems of Shakespeare.
6) T.M. Cleland (8)
A talented designer as well as artist, Cleland’s artistic gifts were displayed a little less frequently, but often enough to earn a place on our list. Some of his works include The Decameron, The History of Tom Jones, The Way of the World, She Stoops to Conquer and The Life and Times of Tristan Shandy, Gentleman. Pictured is Monsieur Beauclaire.
5) Valenti Angelo (12)
The simplistic yet stylistic grace of Angelo graced a dozen books of the LEC, and several of them are masterworks of literature: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The House of the Seven Gables, The Books of a Thousand Nights and a Night, Songs of the Portuguese, and several religious texts, like The Koran, The Book of Proverbs and The Book of Psalms. Pictured is The Song of Roland.
4) Lynd Ward (13)
Ward’s thirteen contributions mark him as one of the most prominent illustrators for Macy, and he didn’t even work on the LEC Shakespeare like the majority of the others on this list! Ward’s commissions ranged from non-fiction works such as Rights of Man and On Conciliation with America to fantastical works such as Beowulf and Idylls of the King to contemporary works like The Innocent Voyage (pictured) and For Whom the Bell Tolls.
3) Fritz Eichenberg (15)
The gifted Eichenberg worked the longest stretch of any of our artists; his first commission was 1939’s Richard the Third for the LEC Shakespeare to 1986’s The Diary of a Country Priest. One of the few to work under late Club owner Sid Shiff, Eichenberg’s output left the LEC a lasting legacy that is difficult to ignore. Best known for his work on the Russian legends of literature, including Eugene Onegin, Crime and Punishment (pictured), Fathers and Sons, and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth.
2) Edward A. Wilson (17)
Wilson was productive, to say the least; he even had his own Heritage volume detailing his artwork! Among the many classics he brought visual splendor to are Westward Ho! (pictured), Treasure Island, The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
1) Fritz Kredel (20)
And finally we come to Fritz Kredel, the king of illustrating for the LEC with a massive twenty volumes! Many collections of fairy tales were conjured by Kredel, including both Andersen (pictured) and the Brothers Grimm. Two Shakespeares, two Trollopes, two Twains, Thackeray, Darwin, Austen, Plato and Heine were among the literary giants Kredel decorated for Macy, and his talent was certainly up to such a diverse palette of books.
Next time, we’ll explore the most frequent Heritage Press artists in terms of their exclusives. We’ll see how many of these artisans cross over!
December 20, 2015 § 1 Comment
Gargantua and Pentagruel by Francois Rabelais (1942)
Sandglass Number 10M
Artwork: Illustrations by Lynd Ward
Translation and Introduction by Jacques LeClercq
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own LEC, #82, in the 7th Series, V. 12, in 1936 with a five-volume set featuring the talents of W.A. Dwiggins.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Our weekend of Ward marches on with this delightful Heritage exclusive edition of Francois Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, an early French comedic romp filled with fantasy and humor. Despite being printed in the middle of World War II (of which I could compile a post of mishaps and tragedies that beset the George Macy Company’s efforts…perhaps next year?), Macy managed to produce this lovely 800 page volume packed to the gills with 100 drawings from Mr. Ward, a mammoth undertaking for both press and artist! Rabelais, a monk and practitioner of medicine in his time, is best known for this work, and it’s a defining classic of French literature. This work was also issued as a LEC earlier in 1936, starring W.A. Dwiggins in a five volume set.
Ward, as mentioned yesterday, has his bibliography here. And I won’t mince any further words about him here, as I’ve probably gushed plenty about his talents elsewhere on the blog; just know that he did 100 line drawings interspersed in Rabelais’ text.
Design Notes – The designer is not mentioned; we do know that LeClercq’s translation comes from the LEC, so it’s possible that Macy borrowed the textual design of that work for this reissuing (W.A. Dwiggins designed the LEC). However, Electra was Dwiggins’ font of choice; here, Scotch is used. So I’m not sure who exactly to credit on this one.
The text was composed by Quinn and Boden and put to the page by Ferris Printing Company. The binding is a little strange — the Sandglass observes that a blue stamped design was intended for the book’s tan linen, but as you can see, that didn’t happen with my book (only on the spine). Perhaps World War II once again undermined Macy’s intentions? And that’s as deep as the Sandglass goes into production notes here.
Title Page – LeClercq serves as an Introductory voice to the text as well as its translator.
Examples of the illustrations by Ward (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal History – This was my first purchase of a Heritage/LEC title after I moved! Huzzah! Purchased at the Bookstore in Chico. Eager to read!
Updated 2/25/2018 – JF
December 19, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (1961)
Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (1961)
Sandglass Number I:26
Artwork: Illustrations by Lynd Ward
Introduction by Howard Fast
Reprint of LEC #321, 29th Series, V. 6 in 1961.
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Salutations! Welcome back to our first post in the George Macy Imagery’s special Christmas book posting extravaganza! I apologize for the light updating this year, but I hope that having one post per day for over a week will even things out a little bit.
Anyway, our first post in this series is Rights of Man, done by the early American (ex-Brit) Thomas Paine in the heydays of the American Revolution and subsequent Constitutional Congress. Written originally as a rebuttal to the work of Edward Burke, Rights of Man continues to stand as one of the more extraordinary political documents in American history, crystallizing and championing the concepts of democracy and social welfare. However, this particular text was written in England post-Revolution, and was not, shall we say, considered a popular work in the eyes of the British government. Paine escaped capture courtesy of another name familiar to readers of this blog: William Blake. Blake warned Paine prior to the execution of Paine’s arrest attempt, and Paine slipped across the seas to France. A grand history of Paine’s exploits can be found in the Sandglass (which I will add later on). This was Paine’s first and only LEC/Heritage offering, but it’s a really nice one — perhaps one of my favorites of Helen Macy’s tenure of the Club.
The illustrator of our edition is not new to this blog; it’s one of the Company’s most frequent contributors, the impeccable Lynd Ward (We’ll see him tomorrow, too). Ward’s LEC bibliography is here. Ward is shuffled to the end of the Sandglass — curious choice, that, but he has certainly had his fair share of text in these letters prior to Rights of Man, so I don’t imagine it to be a slight. He went with drawings for this particular book, which retain his compelling style (unlike some artists who shift from their prominent medium to another, like Eichenberg for instance). The Heritage relied on red and black inks to convey his intent; I’ll let you know if the LEC printings were more dynamic.
Design Notes – Roderick Stinehour handled the design of this book — he also handled the designs for The Song of Roland. The text comes from the 1894 collection of Paine’s work compiled by Moncure D. Conway, and was printed in a dynamic Bulmer font in 14 point on an 18 point base. Typo Upright serves as the chapter/section/running headings font. Mead Paper Company supplied specially-made gray paper for this edition. George C. Miller & Son tackled the reprinting of Ward’s illustrations, while Reehl Printing Company took on the text. Russell-Rutter bound the text, and the cloth is a full linen emblazoned with, as the Sandglass puts it, “the red flames of revolution”.
Title Page – Author Howard Fast supplies an introduction, and Ward serves up a lovely portrait of Paine.
Examples of the illustrations by Ward (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal History – I am not 100% sure where I found this book. I think I got it from a Mariposa Library sale, but I do not recall. I’ve had it for quite some time now, and when you have a collection that has been in flux as much as mine, it’s difficult to remember every origin for every book.
I do look forward to reading it, though.
April 10, 2015 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1952)
Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1952)
LEC #230/21st Series V. 10 in 1953
Artwork: Lithographs in color by Lynd Ward
Introduced by Henry Van Dyke
LEC #42 of 1500. LEC exclusive. A Heritage exclusive version of this work, featuring Robert Ball’s illustrations, was issued in 1939.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Our latest LEC is the lovely 1952 offering Idylls of the King, by the lauded poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. However, this was not the first time Macy published this loving epic to the heroics of King Arthur and the Round Table; in 1939, the Heritage Press issued their own edition starring the artistic talents of Robert Ball. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take a slight tangent, as Ball is a bit of curiosity in the Macy canon. He was called upon to do more Heritage exclusives (Idylls, The Compleat Angler and Bleak House) than he was for LECs (Waverly), which is unusual. But let’s return to the book in question (I can go into Ball’s career more when I get a book featuring him). The LEC Idylls was the first Tennyson outing for the Club; Cardevon Press would issue his Poems in 1974 with Reynolds Stone providing the art. And that is that for Tennyson; three books isn’t shabby, but perhaps a little skimpy for one of Britain’s more famous poetic figures.
Someone who was not a stranger to the LEC (and is not at all skimpy in their output!) is the talented Lynd Ward, whose work has been frequently covered here on the blog already. It has been some time, though; Les Miserables was the last post starring Mr. Ward, and that was in 2012! That post just so happens to cover his bibliography with the two presses as well. Ward is easily one of my favorite illustrators, and this book furthers my commitment that he was among the finest artists of the 20th century, if not in human history (alongside Fritz Eichenberg). For this book, as with The Innocent Voyage, Ward utilized color lithographs, and the process is once again astounding in its execution. Six months of work generated forty eight lithographs, with each color representing its own unique plate per illustration. Since most of these lithographs are at least five colors, that is a herculean two hundred and forty individual plates Ward created, and then he magically put together correctly to form the beautiful illustrations in this book. If one plate was out of order, then the entire illustration was botched! It’s almost unbelievable to fathom the dedication and care Ward utilized for these complex art pieces.
With the author and illustrator covered, let’s focus in on this lovely book’s production details. Carl Purlington Rollins came out of retirement to design this volume for the LEC, and the letter has a fairly rich biography of his career on Page 4. His touch can be seen earlier here for the Heritage Walden and the Heritage Crime and Punishment. Yale University’s printing office handled the printing of the text on a special Curtis paper specifically made for the LEC called Colophon Text. The font is indirectly stated to be of the Baskerville family, with the text initials coming from the Goudy family. Russell Rutter was the bindery. Ward’s lively lithographs were printed by the Duenewald Printing Corporation. Red buckram is the primary cloth for the boards, with a sheepskin leather for the spine. The vermilion spine features excellent renderings of Arthur and Guinevere on each side done by Ward and stamped in with gold leaf, which also is featured in the classy spine text.
Macy notes that this is the “magni opi” of Tennyson and Lynd Ward; I’ll let you be the judge. I’m not too sure Macy’s far off in his assessment!
Title Page – Henry Van Dyke was called upon to introduce the book. The Heritage version, meanwhile, lacks any formal introduction (thanks to Django6924 for checking his copy for me). Anyway, isn’t this a lovely title page? This may be one of my all-time favorites of the Macy canon.
Colophon – Ward signed the work, and you can see that this is #42. I think this is the “youngest” book I have in terms of rank.
Examples of the Illustrations by Ward (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes –
This too was a bit of a calculated risk, like Fathers and Sons. I ordered it off of ABEBooks for the low price of $20 (plus shipping), and all and all I’m very happy with it. There is a former owner’s inscription in it, but beyond that it was on par with all of my other LECs, and I’m thankful I took the chance on it! It’s nice to have a second signed Ward in my collection, and it’s a doozy, too!
LEC Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):
July 23, 2012 § 2 Comments
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1938, two volumes)
Sandglass Number III & IV: 25
Artwork: Illustrations by Lynd Ward
Translated by Lascelles Wraxall, Introduced by Andre Maurois
Reprint of LEC #108, 10th Series, V. 2 in 1938 in five volumes.
Click images for a larger view.
Front Bindings – Les Miserables is arguably Victor Hugo’s most enduring work. In his native France he was celebrated for his dramas and poetry on top of his literature output, even considered France’s grandest poet! However, outside of France his novels are what he is remembered for. Along with The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Les Miserables made Hugo an international literary icon. George Macy seemed to think highly of Hugo, as these two seminal works were printed rather early on in the LEC timeline. Hunchback was actually printed twice before Macy’s passing in 1956, both times as Notre-Dame de Paris. The first was in 1930, the first book in the second series, with Frans Masereel doing the artistic honors. This book is sort of infamous in the Macy canon, as Bill Majure explains:
Originally issued European style, bound in paper wraps. But when many subscribers complained about the paper bindings, the publisher rebound most copies in hardcover.
The second was less notorious when it was released in 1955, and Bernard Lamotte did the artistic honors. Les Miserables was a five volume LEC in 1938, and I’ll be sharing the two volume Heritage reprint with you shortly. After Macy’s death, Helen Macy commissioned The Toilers of the Sea in 1960, with Tranquillo Marangoni doing the artwork. Cardevon would revisit Les Miserables in 1977, plucking The Battle of Waterloo from its pages for a standalone title with Edouard Detaille’s art. Not many people had two major works done twice in the LEC, so Hugo is a bit special in that regard.
Les Miserables was rendered artistically by Lynd Ward, one of the more productive contributors to the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press. His LEC output is as follows:
Reade, Charles, The Cloister and the Hearth, 1932.
Hugo, Victor, Les Miserables, 1938.
Dumas, Alexandre, The Count of Monte Cristo, 1941.
Hemingway, Ernest, For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1942.
Erasmus, Desiderius, In Praise of Folly, 1943.
Hughes, Richard, The Innocent Voyage, 1944.
Tennyson, Alfred Lord, Idylls of the King, 1952.
Conrad, Joseph, Lord Jim, 1959.
Paine, Thomas, Rights of Man, 1961.
Stevenson, Robert Louis, The Master of Ballantrae, 1965.
Jefferson, Thomas, Writings of, 1967.
Burke, Edmund, On Conciliation with America and Other Papers on the American Revolution, 1975.
He also did Gargantua and Pantagruel (1942) and Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend (1957) for the Heritage Press. For this particular book, he did over 500 individual illustrations! Most of them are rather small, but I’ve included some of the larger ones to marvel over. The book was designed by Peter Beilenson (Django6924 confirms Beilenson also handled the LEC. He was the designer/owner of the Peter Pauper Press, for those curious about such things. Thanks Robert!). Granjon is the font of choice here. There’s a good chunk of the third page in the Sandglass devoted to the history of Garamond, a related font to the one chosen. Duenewald Printing Corporation handled the printing duties, putting their ink upon specially made paper supplied by Crocker-Burbank. Arnold Bank was responsible for the binding design of the spines (or backstrip, as the Sandglass refers to them). Russell-Rutter was the bindery.
My edition of the work has seen some sun strip away the first volume’s red blaze, rendering it into more of a dull pink. The blue on Volume 2 is still strong, though. You’ll see the sad state of my Volume 1 below.
Slipcase – Both books are in black slipcases.
Title Page – Lascelles Wraxall (not the most common name) did the honors of translation, which his friend Hugo readily ratified. Andre Maurois, well-known biographer of the time (probably best known for Disraeli), supplies a new introduction.
Fantine – Ward’s smaller sketches are nice and all, but these book dividers are among his finest work. It’s easy to see why he was commissioned so often.
Personal Notes – This was part of my early haul from the Oakhurst Library in 2008 or so. I paid $2 per book! Ah, I love that library. Half if not more of my collection has come from there, and I’ve gotten some insane deals. :)
May 5, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: The Innocent Voyage by Richard Hughes (1944)
The Innocent Voyage by Richard Hughes (1944)
LEC # 175, 16th Series, V. 1
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Color Lithographs by Lynd Ward
Introduction by Louis Untermeyer
#542 out of 1500
Note – I wrote about my old Heritage Press edition a while back, which this post will replace. This one will now be the third comparison between the LEC original and Heritage reprint, and I hope you will enjoy seeing the differences! The LEC images will be up top.
Click images to see larger versions.
Front Binding – The premise is the same – a nice frontispiece of a little girl drawn by Lynd Ward, surrounded by a repeating and expanding box border. It’s the final execution that differs between the two editions. Here’s the LEC Announcement Letter to clarify some of the book design:
The front and back are identical on both books, and both were designed by Robert L. Dothard, owner of the E.L. Hildreth publishing house in Brattleboro, VT (thanks to Django6924 for this info prior to my acquiring my LEC). My Heritage copy, bound much more simply with a printing of this image stamped onto a creme cloth, had an unfortunate water spot on the back. Let’s pause and focus on the book at hand for a bit. The Innocent Voyage, better known these days as A High Wind in Jamaica, is the best known work of Richard Hughes, a British novelist. It is about a pirate crew who kidnaps a family of children who were trying to find a new home (theirs was destroyed by a hurricane) in the Caribbean, and of the time the kids are held hostage. The two sides rub off on each other over the duration, and eventually it is the pirates who are the victims. The girl on the cover is more than likely Emily Bas-Thornron, a major player in the tale who by its end manages to (SPOILER)
get the pirates hung for her own crime of murder (SPOILER END), making her a rather notable callous child in literature.
Spine – The Heritage is similar, minus the leather and gold leaf, natch.
Solander Case – Inside the slipcase is this very attractive solander case that covers the book, featuring Lynd Ward’s gorgeous lithograph of “A High Wind in Jamaica”. This image would be used as the endpapers in the Heritage edition.
Django2694 has more to comment on about the case and the Club’s choice of words on it:
Though the Monthly Letter describes the folding wrapper with the stunning “High Wind” lithograph as a solander, it is more properly a “chemise in a slipcase” rather than a solander. A solander is a box whereas a chemise is open and simply wraps around the book in its slipcase. (This is the reason that there is no title on the slipcase itself as the chemise faces out.) A chemise-wrapped book inside a slipcase was used several times by the LEC–for Vathek, School for Scandal, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to name a few. Solander boxes were used less frequently–Wilkie’s One World, Dead Souls, The Koran, and The Panchatantra are the only ones I have, though there are probably more. Here is Wikipedia’s excellent definition of a proper “solander”:
“Both lid and bottom sections of the box have three fixed side sections or “lips”; the lid is slightly larger so that the side pieces “nest” when the case is closed. The fourth “spine” side has flexible joints where it joins the main top and bottom pieces and so goes flat onto the surface where the box is opened. The front-edge of the case often contains a clasp for closure. The exterior is covered with heavy paper, fabric or leather, and its interior may be lined with padded paper or felt, especially if made for a book. All materials should be acid-free for conservation. The depth of the box is normally about five inches, if it is not made for a specific object, and various standard sizes are made, with traditional names including “royal”, “imperial”, “elephant” and others. Ones for very old books will typically be custom made to an exact size. The boxes are stored flat, and are strong enough to be kept in small stacks if required.”
LEC Slipcase – A white slipcase with no title on the back for this one – a little unusual for a LEC case, but with the solander case above as a bonus, I suppose the George Macy Company figured that was sufficient enough. I’d agree. :)
Title Page – The Heritage edition tries very hard to replicate Ward’s beautiful color lithographs (which I’ll let Django2694 explain for me in a moment, since he did it so well!), but there’s a slight edge to the LEC in terms of vibrancy and sharpness which makes these pop. It’s a testament to how much care and craft were put into these books. Here’s Django’s comments on the process:
The lithos in The Innocent Voyage are amazing in their Technicolor vibrancy and wide range of hues. They mark the first time Ward did other than monochrome lithos for Macy. Each of the five colors had to be done on a separate stone, and then overlaid in register–an incredibly complicated procedure. I quote from the Monthly Letter:
“…he had to draw each color on the flat, not knowing what the finished illustration would look like until he had drawn each of the five brilliant colors and could then possess himself of prints in which each color had been printed on top of the preceding color, or colors, in order to create the final compositions…twenty-five in all. Every one of these (in the LEC, and, I think, in the Heritage version as well), is an original lithograph, an auto-lithograph in color, printed directly from the flats upon which the artist made the drawings, without the interference of a photographic camera or paid operatives to work over the plates.”
The printing was done by George Miller, the acknowledged dean of American lithographers, who was honored by an exhibition of his life’s work in February, 1976, at the Smithsonian. Longtime Macy favorite Frank Fortney did the binding.
These became even more impressive knowing that Ward had no clue how the end result would turn out until he finished. Astounding. Here’s some more from Django about the book’s history and George Macy ranting a bit about the quality of the book (beginning with an excerpt from the LEC Monthly Letter – his own commentary follows):
“The page is certainly open and readable, but we do hope that you will find George Miller’s (who printed the lithographs) printing and Lynd Ward’s lithographs so unusually fine that you will not mind the fact that the Hildreth printing of the open and readable pages is not very good. We tell ourselves and can tell you, that many of our best pressmen are still at the front shooting at the Japs and Germans and, what is tragic for us, sometimes being shot at: so one must be patient.”
This is one of those times, which occur more than one might imagine, in the Monthly Letters when Macy–usually accused of only printing panegyrics about his books–is openly critical. He panned the LEC Green Mansions because he didn’t care for the airy type of the page (being a staunch and unwavering advocate of crisp, deeply stamped black type), and he had similar reservations about several other of the LEC output, one of which ended in the enmity between Macy and Grabhorn that lasted the rest of his life. It is also indicative, in the comment about shooting at Japs and Germans, of his fervent patriotism which manifested itself most strikingly in the legendary Heritage Press Ink and Blood.
Now, as I look through the book, I do not find the book unsatisfactory in any form, but Macy is allowed to find faults with his own books. It’s also right in the middle of World War II when this was published, so perhaps he was unhappy with losing a lot of his favorite presses to the war and felt that Dothard’s work was not up to the high standards he expected, but I think Macy’s damning of Hildreth’s work is a little harsh. Django2694 had some additional comments after his initial posting from before explaining Macy’s disdain:
Macy’s complaints about the presswork mostly relate to the kerning. In the days before computer-set type, the typesetters with the highest level of skill were masters at setting the ideal spacing between letters. This is purely a matter of the setter’s eye determining how much space there should be between each individual character to achieve a visually pleasing result. It’s a very subtle difference, and our discernment has been compromised by mass-market printing, but if you look at the lines of type in The Innocent Voyage, and compare them to a page from the Heritage Press edition of Emerson’s Essays, which was designed by John Henry Nash, you will see the difference in the grace of line.
You’ll see Emerson’s Essays soon enough, as it’s on my queue. ^_^
Signature Page – As you can see here, this is #542 out of 1500, and is signed in red by Lynd Ward. I’ve minimized my gushing for Ward’s excellence in this post thus far – let’s remedy that. :p Ward is definitely one of the George Macy Company’s finest choices for an illustrator – his dynamic style suits so many different books, which the Company picked up on. For example, out of what I own of Ward’s handiwork includes this, Beowulf, Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and The Master of Ballantre by Robert Louis Stevenson. He worked actively for the Clubs from his first contribution, The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade way back in 1932, to his last, 1975’s On Conciliation with America, and Other Papers on the American Revolution by Edmund Burke. In that span he illustrated thirteen LEC books, plus a Heritage exclusive Gargantua and Pantagruel. He was adapt at woodcutting and lithographic techniques. On top of that, he was revolutionizing the concept of a graphic novel, several of these being reprinted by the Library of America, which were put out a while back in a handsome edition. He’s also well regarded for his Frankenstein illustrations, which Dover reprints today (some samples can be seen here). In short, Ward was very much a legendary American artist in the twentieth century, and deserves more accolades than he seems to receive.
Page 19 – Again, Ward’s work is very well reproduced in the Heritage printing, but lacks the little something that the LEC original has to truly make it shine. The fine detail is gone, I suppose.
Personal Notes – The LEC I purchased at Moe’s in Berkeley for a cool $45, which I’m pleased with. I liked my old Heritage, but I fell in love with this edition, especially now that I have Ward’s signature. :) As for the Heritage, I don’t really know how I came into owning that book. It was likely a purchase from my local library or from volunteering at Page One, but I don’t have any recollection of where and when I got it. Due to its poor shape and lack of any redeeming collectible value (lacking a Sandglass or slipcase), I sold it off after acquiring the LEC.
As I am lacking a Sandglass, I need its Volume number printed on the front page of the Sandglass. Either comment here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing! Thanks!
Special thanks to Django2694 from LibraryThing for additional insights.
January 15, 2011 § 5 Comments
Sandglass Number 5K
Artwork: Drawings by Lynd Ward
Translated and introduced by William Ellery Leonard
Originally a Hertiage Press exclusive, later reprinted by the Limited Editions Club in 1952 (Book #225, 21st series V. 5).
Click the images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Designed by John S. Fass, these boards were covered by a binder’s linen that was left intentionally rough, dyed several shades of brown. The bold blue foil box that surrounds Beowulf‘s title was stamped into the linen, with the gold pressed into that. The spine repeats the idea, albeit smaller.
Django2694 has this to say about the LEC edition, among some other comments:
I don’t have my Heritage edition at home–it’s packed in storage and I don’t remember whether it had a Sandglass. I can say that the Ward-illustrated Beowulf was an original Heritage Press publication, done in response, perhaps, to Rockwell Kent’s wonderful Beowulf for the Lakeside Press–which was the first to use Leonard’s translation. Kent’s work is justly famous, so I expect Macy felt he needed to go one better by having Ward do his illustrations in color. This original edition was in 1939, but from everything I have read or seen, that edition was exactly like yours–same binding, illustrations, production details–which was probably a later reissue.
The Monthly Letter for the later LEC mentions Kent’s work:
“”There are pundits who go so far as to say the Lynd Ward’s illustrations for Beowulf are as good as those truly remarkable lithographs which Rockwell Kent made for Beowulf in the year 1928.”
The designer of the LEC Beowulf was Eugene Ettenberg. It is a largish book–bigger than the Heritage Press edition–8.5″ x 12″–and it is set in 14 point Janson while the chapter heads are set in “an utterly new typeface imported from Amsterdam called Libra.” The quarter binding on the spine is blue linen and there is a design of a spear by Ward stamped in gold. The boards are covered in a handmade paper from Sweden featuring a wavy pattern of browns, beiges and blues. The Monthly Letter says Ward “revised” the original illustrations, drawing directly on the lithographic plates. In addition to the size increase, they are also much more delicate in color than the saturated blues and golds of the Heritage edition (but with none of the muddiness you see in the reproductions for the Easton press edition, as was pointed out by EP collector Lucas Trask in an informative side-by-side comparison:
In addition to these “revisions” Ward also adapted one of the illustrations for a two-page black & white spread for the title treatment, and numerous little designs–battleaxes, meadcups, etc–reproduced in brown and sprinkled throughout the text. I would not say that the LEC is inferior**–just subdued whereas the Heritage original is exuberant.
Title Page – Lynd Ward’s stunning artwork quickly lets readers know they are in for a treat. The Heritage Press acquired the rights to reprint Professor William Ellery Leonard’s introduction and translation, which was at the time deemed “the most interesting” by Americans according to the Sandglass. Leonard also has a preface before each section of the poem. The text is Garamond, picked for its harmony with Ward’s work. The paper was, as par the course, specially made for this book by the Collins Paper Company, who supplied a “soft yet tough rag paper” for Leonard’s words and Ward’s ink.
While on the subject of Ward, the Sandglass mentions three other books Ward had done for the Press by its publication – Les Miserables, Gargantua & Pantagruel, and The Innocent Voyage. Curious that last one, as its publication date was 1944, five years after this book’s copyright page claims to have been printed. I’m inclined to believe that I do not own a first printing of this book, or it was held for five years plus before its actual release, which is possible. Ward’s first LEC book was not listed, oddly enough, which was The Cloister and the Hearth in 1932, but perhaps that’s omitted due to its position as an early LEC predating the Heritage Press and was not printed by them. If you have any further info on this, I’d appreciate it.
Page 5 – Grendel is grotesquely rendered here – a poignant and powerful illustration. In total, Ward did 16 full-page illustrations like this one, printed with a lithographic process in blue and brown inks.
Page 8 – Beowulf gets a glorious introduction, properly playing up his heroic nature. Ward was a genius.
Page 1 – An example of Leonard’s introductions to each section, which Ward also contributed smaller black-and-white pieces for.
Personal Notes – I paid too much for this book. :p Before I had a clue about the Heritage Press and its price scales, I dropped $30 for this at my friend’s old Page One Used Books (the same that I’ve swapped Brownings with), but considering how rarely I see it in other shops (i.e. once, last time I was in Berkeley), I suppose it’s all right that I forked out a fairly hefty sum…although it is lacking a slipcase. It did introduce me to Lynd Ward, one of my favorite illustrators in the George Macy Company’s long list of artists.
My copy came with a second pamphlet that I’d be disinclined to believe came from the Heritage Press, looking at the original Beowulf manuscript and analyzing it some. One of the neater bonuses I’ve gotten out of any book I have.
* = Due to the Sandglass listing books published after 1939, I’m not certain that I can rely on that as a publication date. As I do not have any other year to work from, I’m arbitrarily using it as a placeholder until I know for certain what year this book was published.
** = Before Django supplied with me with info on the LEC, I commented that I had heard the LEC edition was inferior to the original Heritage edition. I’ve dropped those comments (since he was nice enough to provide info on the LEC!), but that’s what he’s referring to here.