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: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)

December 29, 2016 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Pierre Brissaud put into woodblocks by Theo Schmied
Introduced by Jacques de Lacretelle, translated by J. Lewis May
Reprint of LEC #206, 19th Series, V. 10; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration. The LEC issued this work earlier in 1938 with Guntar Bohmer’s illustrations.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – To end 2016, we’ll post about the leading vote for the Heritage Reader’s Pick, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. This book has a bit of history, being that it was part of the Heritage Great French Romances series. One of the original ten books planned in 1938, this volume ended up being issued in 1950 as a Limited Editions Club title before launching as the ninth item in the aforementioned series in 1951 (the copyright date still lists 1950). Since my friend Django6924 did such a lovely job detailing the entire series, I’ll repost his comments about this particular book:

It isn’t until February, 1951 that Madame Bovary appears. I foolishly gave away my Heritage/Nonesuch edition when I acquired the LEC version which came out in April, 1950, so the information which follows comes from the LEC Monthly Letter. As you remember, Pierre Brissaud had elected to do Bovary and was “nearing completion” when the series was announced in 1940. The Monthly Letter continues:

“But by the time M. Brissaud finished his illustrations, the Nazis had marched into Paris and the Nonesuch Press had lost contact, with M. Brissaud on the one hand, and with us on the other. It was to us, at the headquarters of the Limited Editions Club in New York, that the Brissaud illustrations for Madame Bovary found their way; and it was we who, immediately after the war was over, found ourselves in Paris with those illustrations under our arm and the mission to have those illustrations reproduced in Paris, not for the Limited Editions Club, but for the Nonesuch Press.”

The Monthly Letter then goes on to say that discovering that the atelier of Théo Schmied had reopened in Paris, and M. Schmied had indicated his interest in printing the Brissaud illustrations through multiple wood engravings, that it was decided Bovary with the Brissaud illustrations reproduced through multiple wood engravings in color would be issued first as an LEC book, and it was. This was despite the fact that Madame Bovary had been previously issued by the LEC in 1938, with illustrations by Gunther Boehmer (I’ve never seen a copy of this edition). The Monthly Letter then adds a reassuring note:

“Now once this edition…is distributed to members of this Club, it will be followed by an unlimited edition (in which the illustrations will be reproduced in monochrome) to be included in that series called The Ten Great French Romances, for distribution by the Nonesuch Press in London, and for the Nonesuch Press, by the Heritage Club in New York.”

Meynell’s typographic plan was used for the LEC editon, and of course, for the unlimited edition, which, if memory serves me, had “Heritage” on the bright green buckram spine, with green fleurs-de-lys patterned boards, which indicates it was a later printing as the 1950 edition had “Nonesuch” on the spine, which was lavender. As I remember, my Heritage edition had the illustrations reproduced in color–not monochrome.

This is the Nonesuch version of the book, given the lavender coloration. And the illustrations are indeed in monochrome. I’ll have to see if I can find a Heritage edition to compare.

This is Flaubert’s first appearance on the blog, although he had a fairly prolific run with Macy. This book is actually the second printing of Madame Bovary; 1938 saw the release of a LEC exclusive with Guther Bohmer’s artwork. The Temptation of Saint Anthony followed in 1943 with Warren Chappell’s artistic touch. Next came Brissaud’s 1950 spin on Bovary. Salammbo was issued in 1960 starring the talents of Edward Bawden. And lastly, the Cardevon Press issued Three Tales in 1978 with the art of May Neama.

Brissaud, meanwhile, is on his second-to-last commission we have covered on the blog. We’ve hit all his other contributions save his Shakespeare, The Two Gentleman of Verona. World War II wrecked havoc on Brissaud, as Django observes above, and really cut his potential for Macy. Thankfully he was really really good on the books he did illustrate!

I don’t have a Sandglass, so Django’s notes will have to suffice for now.

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Title Page – Jacques de Lacertelle provides an introduction, and J. Lewis May did the translation from French to English. As you can see, Brissaud’s work is different than his other contributions; Theo Schmied desired to convert Brissaud’s linework into woodblock, and Macy agreed to the endeavor. Personally, I prefer the watercolors and light touch of Brissaud’s style in contrast to the woodcuts, but maybe it looks better in color.

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

Personal Notes – This was another title Liz sent me earlier this year.

Of Interest: The History of the Heritage “Great French Romances” series

May 15, 2014 Comments Off on Of Interest: The History of the Heritage “Great French Romances” series

My good friend Django6924 has written up a splendid little history on one of George Macy’s many attempts to create something unique with the Heritage Press: the “Great French Romances” series. I originally had this in my Gods Are A-Thrist post, but it really should be its own thing.This is mostly unedited (beyond one transition snip, the addition of the authors/artists of the original series, a appendix of the final series in chronological order, a few typo fixes, and my italicizing the book titles) from his original posts. So, without further adieu, I’ll let him take over (the original posting can be found here). Major thanks to Django for letting me host this excellent summary!

In 1938, Francis Meynell of the Nonesuch Press in England, of which George Macy became Managing Director in 1936, joined with a committee of French writers, who were chaired by Andre Maurois, to produce a series, “The Ten Great French Romances,” for Nonesuch. These would have a distinctive typographic plan and binding, designed by Meynell, and would illustrated by the “best French book illustrators,” as chosen by the committee. The books were, in order of planned publication:

Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde
Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Demetrios Galanis
Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost D’Exiles/Andre Dignimont
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David
A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan
The Gods are A-thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé

The typographic moulds were made in England, then sent to France for printing at the Inprimerie Protat Freres in Macon (home, incidentally, of an excellent burgundy), as the French had superior quality rag paper. The illustrations were first printed at Georges Duval in Paris by the collotype process, then hand-colored through the pochoir process by the studio of Beaufumé, also in Paris. It is not said where the characteristic binding of fleurs-de-lys patterned linen boards and buckram spine binding was done, but it was in France as well.

Between planning of the series, and the completion of the first two volumes, World War Two had begun. This not only complicated the production, but made it necessary to change plans. Since by this time it was obvious that more of the books would be sold through Heritage in the US, it was decided that all printing should henceforth take place in the US (again, remember that by this time George Macy was really running Nonesuch), though Meynell would continue to design the books in England. A quote from the Sandglass accompanying Dangerous Acquaintances and Candide gives an interesting insight into those nerve-wracking days:

“Transportation to England is difficult enough, transportation to America is far more difficult. Shipped in merchant vessels under convoy, the books have taken weeks to cross the ocean, weeks during which we at the Nonesuch Fellowship have often thought that they must surely be at the bottom of the ocean.”

The above was written in April 1940. In the same Sandglass, the outline for the series of Ten Great French Romances was given. Some interesting statements were:

“The binding of The Charterhouse of Parma will be green (mine is, in fact olive-green), the binding for The Gods are A-thirst will be yellow (mine and every copy I’ve seen is a more appropriate red), and each succeeding volume will be in a unique color.” (The ones I have seem to indicate that the “10 different colors” scheme was abandoned–also, Balzac’s Eugenie Grandet was published later with a green buckram spine and the green patterned fleurs-de-lys boards in the design established by Meynell).

“…Galanis has already finished his illustrations for The Charterhouse of Parma, Dignimont has finished his illustrations for Manon Lescaut, Hermine David has finished her illustrations for The Princess of Cleves, Mahn has finished his illustrations for Germinal, Legrand has finished his illustrations for A Woman’s Life, Brissaud is nearing completion of his illustrations for Madame Bovary, and Oberlé is nearing completion for his illustrations for The Gods are A-thirst.” (Not mentioned was the status of the remaining illustrations, those for Old Goriot by René ben Sussan.)

As a famous Frenchman once said, “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men, gang aft agley.” A letter To The Members OF THE HERITAGE CLUB dated April 10 announces that it will be “necessary for us to send both Dangerous Acquaintances and Candide to you in the same package”, in May, rather than in April and May successively. This was necessary because the head of the atelier doing the hand-coloring, M. Beaufumé, was suddenly called into the army and that it was then up to his wife and daughters to finish his work as well as their own.

The next book of the series, distributed in July, 1942 was entirely printed and bound in the US, The Gods Are A-thirst, for which Jean Oberlé did the illustrations and took them to London just ahead of the Occupation of Paris. The hand-coloring was done by Macy’s favorite pochoirist in the US at that time, Charlize Brakely.

The next book, A Woman’s Life, sent to subscribers in September, 1942, was again was done entirely in the US and again enlisted the services of Ms. Brakely. The illustrations were done by Edy Legrand, a Macy favorite who would later do the 2nd LEC Don Quixote, but who in 1942 had fled Paris for Fez in French Morocco. (Interestingly, the LEC would issue A Woman’s Life in 1952 with the same typographic plan, this time using the studio of Walter Fischer to do the pochoir hand coloring, one of the few times when an LEC in essence reissued the same book originally published by the Heritage Press using the same illustrations.)

In November of the same year, Heritage issued Germinal with b&w illustrations by Berthold Mahn, reproduced by photogravure. Frank Fortney at Russell-Rutter bound them in the fleurs-de-lys/buckram binding which matched the first two (and I assume the 3rd and 4th books, but although my copy of The Gods are A-thirst follows this design [albeit in red rather than the planned yellow], as does my Heritage copy of A Woman’s Life, I’m not sure my copies are the first Heritage editions). Things are getting a little strange by this time as the Sandglass for Germinal lists the Ten Great French Romances again, and lo, Manon Lescaut has dropped off the list and has been replaced by Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin! No explanation for this is given, but the obvious one is — the Heritage Press had already issued Manon Lescaut with a pigskin leather spine and marbled paper boards back in 1935 with illustrations by Brissaud (and with an original lithograph signed by Brissaud in the 1500 copies that were first offered to members of the LEC as a “collector’s item” when the Heritage Press was launched). And what of Dignimont’s “finished” illustrations for Manon as announced back in 1940? Never used anywhere, apparently, and perhaps destroyed during the war. One would love to see them, especially in light of the illustrations I saw once which Dignimont made for Pierre Louys’ Petites Scenes Amoureuses–which border on the pornographic, but in a most beautiful and Frenchified way. (Dignimont later did The Wanderer and The Moonstone for the LEC and Heritage Press.)

In January of 1943, Madame de Lafayette’s wonderful The Princess of Cleves is issued. Meynell planned the design and printed his specimen pages at the Fanfare Press before war broke out. The book features many beautiful illustrations by Hermine David, who after completing the illustrations in Paris just before the Occupation, “disappeared into a convent,” according to an earlier Sandglass. (She didn’t take orders, this was more of a retreat to a Benedictine abbey in Dourgne, near the southern French city of Toulouse, to where she returned many times until her death in 1970, seeking inspiration while doing her illustrations which became increasingly ones with religious subject matter.) The Princess of Cleves was letterpress-printed in New York at the printing house of Leo Hart, and once more the delicate hand-coloring was done at Charlize Brakely’s studio. The series binding of buckram and fleurs-de-lys was utilized. My copy is a light brown, and as far as I know this was the only printing of this particular work by Heritage or Nonesuch (and no LEC edition) until the Norwalk, CT incarnation of the Heritage Press issued it in 1970–not utilizing the series binding.

It is not until February, 1944 that the next Great Romance appears and it is, in fact, Theophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin. (Parenthetically, I have to say I can’t understand its omission from the original list as it is a much more compelling novel than Manon Lescaut.) By now the original plan announced in 1938 is really having difficulties–mostly due to the war. Mademoiselle de Maupin is not designed by Francis Meynell (who was probably spending a fair amount of time in 1942-1943 dodging into air raid shelters) but by American George Salter (who was born a German and whose design for the cover of Berlin Alexanderplatz in 1929 was a revelation in its time). The illustrations–and racy ones they are!–were by Andre Dugo, a French expatriate living in New York. The binding utilized the same pattern as the previous books, this time blue buckram and cream and blue fleurs-de-lys boards.

In September, 1949, Old Goriot, is finally published with René ben Sussan’s illustrations. The title page has The Heritage Press, New York & The Nonesuch Press, London, though the obverse side simply says “Printed in the United States of America.” There is no date of publication–an anomaly in the series. The Sandglass says M. ben Sussan “had a bad time, an altogether bad time” during the war, spending his time dodging the Nazis. His remarkable illustrations were reproduced from his B&W brush drawings via gravure, then the colors were applied, not by pochoir, but by hand cut rubber plates, one for each color. The rubber plates were done by Herbert Rau. Are they as good as hand-colored using stencils? I don’t know, but they are truly wonderful and match any of the hand-colored ones in the series. The series binding is used (only “Nonesuch” appears on the red buckram spine–not “Heritage”).

It isn’t until February, 1951 that Madame Bovary appears. I foolishly gave away my Heritage/Nonesuch edition when I acquired the LEC version which came out in April, 1950, so the information which follows comes from the LEC Monthly Letter. As you remember, Pierre Brissaud had elected to do Bovary and was “nearing completion” when the series was announced in 1940. The Monthly Letter continues:

“But by the time M. Brissaud finished his illustrations, the Nazis had marched into Paris and the Nonesuch Press had lost contact, with M. Brissaud on the one hand, and with us on the other. It was to us, at the headquarters of the Limited Editions Club in New York, that the Brissaud illustrations for Madame Bovary found their way; and it was we who, immediately after the war was over, found ourselves in Paris with those illustrations under our arm and the mission to have those illustrations reproduced in Paris, not for the Limited Editions Club, but for the Nonesuch Press.”

The Monthly Letter then goes on to say that discovering that the atelier of Théo Schmied had reopened in Paris, and M. Schmied had indicated his interest in printing the Brissaud illustrations through multiple wood engravings, that it was decided Bovary with the Brissaud illustrations reproduced through multiple wood engravings in color would be issued first as an LEC book, and it was. This was despite the fact that Madame Bovary had been previously issued by the LEC in 1938, with illustrations by Gunther Boehmer (I’ve never seen a copy of this edition). The Monthly Letter then adds a reassuring note:

“Now once this edition…is distributed to members of this Club, it will be followed by an unlimited edition (in which the illustrations will be reproduced in monochrome) to be included in that series called The Ten Great French Romances, for distribution by the Nonesuch Press in London, and for the Nonesuch Press, by the Heritage Club in New York.”

Meynell’s typographic plan was used for the LEC editon, and of course, for the unlimited edition, which, if memory serves me, had “Heritage” on the bright green buckram spine, with green fleurs-de-lys patterned boards, which indicates it was a later printing as the 1950 edition had “Nonesuch” on the spine, which was lavender. As I remember, my Heritage edition had the illustrations reproduced in color–not monochrome.

Stendahl’s The Charterhouse of Parma brought the series to a close in 1955. The series binding features “Heritage” on the olive-green buckram spine, and the title page doesn’t mention Nonesuch. The designer of the typographic plan isn’t specified in the Sandglass, though it looks very much like Meynell’s other designs. The illustrations are not by Galanis, but by Rafaello Busoni, who had won an international competition sponsored by the LEC in 1945 and on the basis of that had already illustrated Stendahl’s other novel The Red and the Black for the LEC. What happened to Galanis’ illustrations, which were already finished back in 1940? I haven’t found any evidence in my readings, but remembering that Galanis had been commissioned by the LEC before to illustrate Oedipus the King, and that those illustrations had come a cropper during the Occupation, it’s possible an identical fate befell the Stendahl illusrations. (If you are unfamiliar with the Galanis/Sophocles story, here is a link to WildcatJF’s excellent summary.

The Busoni illustrations are two-color lithographs and are actual lithographic prints. The type pages were composed by Leo Hart and printed by the Riverside Press. The binding was done by Frank Fortney.

The Herculean labor of completing this series must have been a relief to Macy, and probably a source of pride. These books are really wonderful and the best of them fully the equivalent of some of today’s limited fine press books.

The final list, then, is as follows:

Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage (1939, Heritage exclusive)
Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde (1940, Heritage exclusive)
The Gods are A-Thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé (1942, Heritage exclusive)
A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand (1942 Heritage printing, 1952 LEC edition available)
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn (1942, Heritage exclusive)
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David (1943, Heritage exclusive)
Mademoiselle de Maupin by Theodore Gautier/Andre Dugo (1943, LEC edition available)
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan (1948, LEC edition available)
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud (1950, LEC edition available)
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Rafaello Busoni (1955, LEC edition available)

UPDATE!

It’s recently been brought up that the Heritage Press issued a second Honore de Balzac work under the same design auspices of this series despite originally not being included on the list. Django6924 once again is the source of the below info:

Unlike the other books in the series, Eugenie Grandet was not on the original pre-WWII slate of Ten Great French Romances (the Balzac representative being Old Goriot under Meynell’s master plan). Now this plan changed early on, but Eugenie was never one of the group, and the HP edition is, in this case, a reprint of the LEC (also designed by Meynell). I suppose that in the post-George Macy period, it was felt that putting the HP reprint in the same series binding would encourage those who had some or all of the others to want to extend the collection, as you mentioned.

The HP Eugenie is a fine addition to the series, although it doesn’t feature any hand-colored illustrations like the original group; to the best of my memory, the colors applied via hand-cut rubber plates were excellent. I prefer the fleur-de-lys binding of the HP to the LEC’s khaki-colored buckram with black-leather labels made to resemble some sort of medieval-esque binding hinges. The true superiority of the LEC is in the paper, a thick, rich paper that must be 100% rag; I say “must be” because the Monthly Letter doesn’t mention a word about the paper.

Thanks once again!

Of Interest – The Illustrators of the LEC Shakespeare

April 29, 2012 Comments Off on 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!

Limited Editions Club – The Memoirs of Saint-Simon (1959)

February 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Memoirs of Louis de Rouvroy due de Saint-Simon (1959)
Sandglass Number XV:23
Artwork – Drawings by Pierre Brissaud
Selected, translated, edited and introduced by Desmond Flower
LEC #297/27th Series V. 6 in 1959
LEC #403 of 1500

Click the images for larger views. LEC will be on top/left, Heritage on bottom/right (unless otherwise stated)

Front Binding – Well, I lost my first rendition of this post to the void of WordPress oblivion, so I’m condensing a lot of my memories of what I originally wrote so I can get this properly posted.  If it seems a bit terse, I apologize, but I did lose a hour of work. XD

For the memoirs of French soldier/diplomatist Louis de Rouvroy due de Saint-Simon, Sir Francis Meynell (founder of the Nonesuch Press) handled design duties.  He chose Monotype Garamond 156 to serve as its font (which, according to the Sandglass, was likely the first time the font had been used in an American book!), and the George Macy Company recruited Frenchman Pierre Brissaud to render the royality-filled world Saint-Simon depicted in his memoirs into illustration.  Brissaud is no stranger to this blog, with his Cyrano de Bergerac and The Story of Manon Lescault being highly praised by your faithful curator already, and this is another testament to his astounding talent.

As for the comparative aspect of the two versions, the Heritage is one volume versus the LEC’s two, which is fairly obvious methinks.  Secondly, the Heritage lacks the decorative gold border by its edges.  Third, the spine designs are different, which you can see below.

Spine – The LEC has faded into a light yellow-orange compared to its vibrant red.  The sun is a harsh mistress.

Slipcase – Sorry for the fuzziness on the HP slipcase.  Both went with blue, and it works nicely.

Title Pages – The Heritage ran with the second volume’s title page for its own, and I also think it’s more colorful than many of the other selections in that edition.  The major difference here is the lack of a Volume announcement and the year being dropped in preference for “New York”.  You can compare the Heritage rendition of the LEC title page below.

Clarke and Way of The Thistle Press were responsible for handling the LEC edition – without a letter, I can’t go too deep into the process.  Brissaud’s artwork was reproduced into gravures by the Photogravure and Color Company, and after Brissaud colored the gravures and sent them back to the George Macy Company, the artists at Walter Fischer Studios rendered each book’s illustrations into those colors by hand.

A quick run-down of the Heritage printing process: printed by Kellogg & Bulkley of Hartford, Connecticut, on specially made paper provided by Oxford Paper Company, bound by Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter.  Colors were done by the Arrow Press based off of Herbert Rau’s rubber plates taken from the gravures Brissaud colored.

Signature Page –#403, signed by Brissaud.

Page 28 (LEC)/Page 26 (HP) – Note how colorful and rich the LEC edition is compared to the more subdued Heritage.  The addition of additional colors makes each scene in Saint-Simon’s life re-imagined by Brissaud flourish in its resurrection.  The Heritage is almost the afterimage of such glory.  The colors really do make the argument to go with a LEC edition for this particular biographical memoir.

Page 48 (LEC)

Page 3 (HP) – Compare with the LEC title page.

Genealogical Tree (LEC) – This is bound into the second volume of the LEC edition at the conclusion of its tale, while the Heritage is loosely lain into the book.

Personal Notes – I picked this up for $45, and it’s in splendid shape beyond the sunned spines.  Acquired from my favorite shop in its top secret locale. :p  The Heritage was purchased for $12 at the same store a year or two prior, if my memory’s correct.

I had a chance to discuss with the owners a bit of history relating to the member whose estate the shop bought this lot of LEC’s from.  #403 was based in Carmel, California, and had a lovely house that was more glass than anything else.  That explained why so many of the books seemed to have been sunned so heavily.  It would seem from my experience that #403 was with this collector from the mid-to-late 1950’s to the early 1980’s.  This and Three Men in a Boat make for eight books from this member’s collection now residing in mine.

Sandglass:

Heritage Press – The Story of Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost (1935)

September 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Story of Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost D’Exiles (1935)
Sandglass Number 3K (not the original printing’s)
Artwork: Illustrated by Pierre Brissaud
Translated by Helen Waddell, with a note by the author
Heritage Press Exclusive
Special Limited Edition, with a special exclusive print on the title page signed by Brissaud – only 1500 of these exist.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – The Heritage Press began in 1935 with a fine set of six books exclusive at the time to that imprint (with some remaining so), but George Macy decided to celebrate his second major printing business by creating 1,500 limited edition copies of those six, and gave the LEC membership first crack at them.  I’ve gone into more detail about these on The Pickwick Papers (due to Dickens’ David Copperfield being in that initial salvo), but I’ll summarize — Manon Lescaut is one of those, with the aforementioned Dickens, plus Romeo and Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, A Shropshire Lad and The Song of Songs.  For these limited versions, the bindings are distinctly different from the standard printing and feature a signature of the artist somewhere within, usually with an exclusive print.  This copy of Manon Lescaut is one of those 1,500 copies.  The Sandglass I got with it is, unfortunately, not the proper one for the limited edition, but it states that T.M. Cleland is responsible for the design.

Cleland illustrated for Macy on top of designing lovely books (see Monsieur Beauclare), but in this case French watercolorist Pierre Brissaud was recruited for the task.  Brissaud began his Macy contributions here, and he would have been the original Cyrano de Bergerac (1936) artist if it weren’t for the chaos leading into World War II that sent Brissaud into hiding during the German occupation.  Luckily, Brissaud survived and resumed his output for the Macy houses in 1950, which the Cyrano link above goes into more detail.

As for the boards, they are a lovely blue marble with a delightful spine made of leather – see below:

Spine

I did get a slipcase for this, but it’s not all that amazing and it’s a bit fragile, so I refrained from photographing it.

Title Page – For Manon Lescaut, Brissaud’s signature is on the title page with an exclusive print that is, to my knowledge, not in the reprints.  I looked at a variety of standard printings while browsing and did not see this reprinted at all.  Later illustrations were bumped up into its place, and one even had the left side blank.  I’m not 100% sure of the publishing era of any of those, but I’ll try to check next time I’m at the same shop.  This print is distinctly different from the rest of Brissaud’s watercolors gracing the book – it’s far sharper and more colorful.  The effective shading is just wonderful.

The Nonesuch Press assisted Macy with the printing duties for the limited run – the later Sandglass makes no mention of who printed those editions.  The Nonesuch Press was tightly knit with the George Macy Company for a considerable time – Macy briefly owned the press from the late 1930’s to the 1950’s, and was good friends with Sir Francis Meynell, its founder.  Nonesuch collaborated with Macy on a set of Dickens for the Heritage Press and a series of some French romances, among other things.  Meynell also provided an introduction to George Meredith’s The Shaving of Shagpat, which is fitting since he was the author’s godson.  His mother was well-known suffragist and poet Alice Meynell.

Cleland went with A. Colish’s Fournier type, which Colish set at 14-point.  The standard print used Collins Manufacturing Company paper, but I’m not sure who provided it for the limited set.

Page 6 – I need to get the rest of Brissaud’s work – I adore it all.  I like the dogs in this piece – it adds a lot to the overall liveliness of the painting.

Page 20

Personal Notes – As I was perusing my favorite shop, I noticed this book and thought that it was something unique.  I had no idea how unique it was until I began comparing it to other editions (of which there were ample supply), and Brissaud’s signature just didn’t seem real to be in a Heritage book (I had not done the research on the first six prior to this discovery!) in such a prominent place…but yet there it was, and it was $15!  The boards were luscious compared to the others, and that title page art was so bold…I knew I had something special.  I checked on it in the hotel room and was delighted to see my instinct was right – I did pick up a special printing of an exquisite book.

Sandglass (later printing):

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