Limited Editions Club: Two Medieval Tales by Robert Louis Stevenson (1930)

Two Medieval Tales by Robert Louis Stevenson (1930)
LEC #6/1st Series V. 6 in 1930
Artwork: Illustrations by C.B. Falls
Introduced by Clayton Hamilton
LEC #278 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

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Front Binding – It’s been some time since Robert Louis Stevenson has appeared on the blog! This is not anything deliberate, as I would love to have more of his works than the one I currently do, and there is no shortage of Stevenson in the LEC! He was the fourth most published author by the Limited Editions Club with nine individual works, which I detail out in the Child’s Garden of Verses post. One of my favorite places in the world, Monterey, CA, features a rooming house he stayed at when he was briefly living in the state, and it is rumored he may have had some inspiration for Treasure Island from his jaunts along the piers and docks of the city.

Curiously, the first book published by the LEC was not Treasure Island, or Kidnapped, or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (all of which WOULD come in a few decade’s time), but a collection of two short stories he wrote set in “mediaeval” times, “A Lodging for the Night” and “The Sire de Malétroit’s Door”. These originally appeared in New Arabian Nights, a collection of short stories published in 1877 (and would see its own Limited Editions Club edition, the last he would receive, issued in 1976 under Cardevon Press’ tenure). The book is also unfortunately maligned by Macy as the low point of the first series, mainly from a production standpoint.

You see, Macy entrusted the design of this book to its illustrator, C.B. Falls. Charles Buckles Falls was an illustrator and author, who was best known for his World War I poster advertisements and his book The ABC Book. He garnered acclaim for a raw, aggressive artistic style with bold colors and eccentric lettering. He brings that dynamic approach to this commission, and it ended up being a bit divisive. Personally, I like his illustrations in this edition, but I can see how his work might not connect with these tales set in distant times. Macy’s main issue, as noted in his comments from the QM, was the typography plan Falls devised. The font choice and placement aren’t executed as well as all of the others in the first series. However, Macy didn’t wish to cause any disruption with Mr. Falls or with the printer, Hal Marchbanks, and let the book come out as Falls created it…and immediately regretted it. Perhaps this is why Falls never returned to the fold of collaborators?

Design Notes – Per the QM:

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Spine

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Slipcase

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Title Page – Clayton Hamilton provides the introduction to this edition.

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Colophon – This is #278 of 1500, and was signed by Falls.

Examples of Falls’ illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I’ve seen a copy of this book for almost as long as I’ve collected LECs; a rather abused copy resided at Bookhaven in Monterey for quite some time, but my copy ended up coming from Powell’s sometime in 2020. This is a much nicer copy than the one introducing me to this edition, haha. I’m happy to have it, even if it’s among Macy’s least favorites.

Video Series #4 – The First Series Part 1

For the fourth video for the George Macy Imagery Video Series, I begin looking into the First Series of the Limited Editions Club. For this episode, I discuss Two Medieval Tales, Tartarin of Tarascon, and The Fables of Jean de la Fontaine!

Trivia: The Most Popular Authors in the LEC/Heritage canon

I’m beginning a new tradition here at the Imagery; once in a while, I’d like to present some interesting bit of research or trivia to you. Today, I’ll share the top authors who were published most by the two major arms of the Macy Companies and their successors. I will separate the two presses at first, and then merge the results to see who wins the coveted (imaginary) “Most Popular” status!

Limited Editions Club:

1) William Shakespeare, with 41 individual releases! I’m counting each book in the LEC Shakespeare as its own entity.
2) Mark Twain, with 12 individual releases.
3) Charles Dickens, with 9 individual releases.
3) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 individual releases.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 8 individual releases.
5) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 individual releases.
5) Joseph Conrad, with 8 individual releases.
8) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 individual releases.
8) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 6 individual releases.
10) Gustave Flaubert, with 5 individual releases.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 5 individual releases.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 5 individual releases.
10) Anatole France, with 5 individual releases.
10) Victor Hugo, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jane Austen, with 5 individual releases.
10) Jules Verne, with 5 individual releases.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 5 individual releases.
10) Sir Walter Scott, with 5 individual releases.

Heritage Press:

This is not as simple to document, as there remains an incomplete bibliography of the Heritage Press output. But, relying on the research I’ve done here, I’ll do my best. I’ll only be doing a Top 5 due to the less frequent original publications of this Press.

1) Charles Dickens, with 14 individual releases!
2) William Shakespeare, with 5 individual releases.
3) Mark Twain, with 3 individual releases.
4) Anatole France, with 2 individual releases.
5) Henry James, with 2 individual releases.
5) Washington Irving, with 2 individual releases.
5) Charles Lamb, with 2 individual releases.
5) Homer, with 2 individual releases.
5) Nathaniel Hawthorne, with 2 individual releases.

OVERALL:

1) William Shakespeare, with 46 books to his name in the canon!
2) Charles Dickens, with 23 books.
3) Mark Twain, with 15 books.
4) Robert Louis Stevenson, with 9 books.
5) Fyodor Dostoevsky, with 9 books (I’m including the Heritage Crime and Punishment as a separate release).
6) Alexandre Dumas, with 8 books.
6) Joseph Conrad, with 8 books.
6) Nathanial Hawthorne, with 8 books.
9) Anatole France, with 7 books.
10) James Fenimore Cooper, with 6 books.
10) Leo Tolstoy, with 6 books.
10) Oscar Wilde, with 6 books.
10) William Makepeace Thackeray, with 6 books.

This list is subject to change, as there may be a Heritage exclusive somewhere I may have missed.

Heritage Press – A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1944)

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1944)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Roger Duvoisin
Introduced by William Rose Benet
Reprint of LEC #156/15th Series V. 4 in 1944

Front Binding – A charming cover for a set of nursery rhymes, eh?  Roger Duvoisin’s a perfect fit for this book, I must admit, and the cover gives credence to my claim.  Alas, this is a library copy, and it shows some significant wear on the corners and there’s a chunk of the centerpiece missing, but you get the idea of how nice this one is despite its flaws.

Duvoisin mostly did children’s works for the LEC and Heritage Press (and elsewhere), but I’ll let my prior comments for my Three-Cornered Hat post handle comments on his career, where I go into those details much more extensively.  For here, I’ll merely add that this was his first LEC commission, and it’s a fitting one, too.

Now for the meat of this post – Robert Louis Stevenson was well loved by George Macy during his tenure.  Six Stevenson works were greenlighted while Macy was alive, all of which (save the first, which is a little baffling to me as to why they picked those tales so early) were important pieces of his legacy in literature – Two Medieval Tales, book #6 of the LEC in 1929 with decorations by C.B Falls, Kidnapped in 1938 (with Hans Alexander Mueller rendering its art), Treasure Island in 1941 (Edward A. Wilson illustrated that one), this fine printing in 1944, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1952 (art also by Wilson), and The Beach of Falasa in 1956 (featuring Millard Sheets’ work), presumably being designed and planned before Macy’s death in May, 1956.  Stevenson would continue to be a popular go-to for Helen Macy and Cardevon Press, as three more books would follow – Travels with a Donkey in 1957 (which reunited Duvoisin with Stevenson), The Master of Ballantre in 1965 (which Lynd Ward illustrated handsomely), and The New Arabian Nights in 1976 (Clarke Hutton did the honors here).  All but the first and the last received Heritage editions, and the Heritage Press did not tackle any Stevenson works on their own accord.  But nine separate works is not shabby at all – I believe that he’s the fourth most printed author from the Company, following Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain.  Not bad company, that!

Title Page – William Rose Benet of Mother Goose fame (another work Duvoisin illustrated for the Heritage Press – coincidence?) offers an introduction in Stevenson’s tales, and, as I said, Duvoisin is ideal for this book.  I have no clue on who designed it or how, so if you could let me know, I’d be most thankful.

Endpapers – Both endpapers feature this excellent two page illustration that is a great representation of how lovely Duvoisin’s art is for this.

Page 3 – He also did some black-and-white drawings, too.

Personal Notes – A very lovely book, one I’d like to own!  Checked out from my local library.

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!