Heritage Press – The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Anonymous (1960)

August 10, 2013 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Anonymous (1960)

The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Anonymous (1960)
Sandglass Number
Artwork: Illustrations by Serge Ivanoff
Retold by Joseph Bedier, Translated by Hilaire Belloc and Paul Rosenfield, Introduced by Padaric Colum
Reprint of LEC #316, 29th Series, V. 1 in 1960

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – Today I bring you The Romance of Tristan and Iseult. Issued as a LEC in 1960, this Heritage edition quickly followed, and in my opinion it’s a rather amazing book in the post George Macy years. This was originally a French medieval legend told through poetry that has been passed down through many centuries; Frenchman Joseph Bedier provides the foundation of this myth for this edition. This is a prose rendition of the text. Tristan and Iseult inspired the Arthurian legends that sprung in England; Tristan himself made an appearance in one tale hunting for the Holy Grail as a knight of the Round Table, from what the Wikipedia page tells me. He appears in Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (which does have a LEC/Heritage edition floating around!), too. Anyway! Bedier appears to have been quite entangled with the legend, as he pops up all over the place on that particular page. So good choice!

Illustrator Serge Ivanoff did not leave a good first impression on me. I found his interpretation of Moliere’s two plays rather unremarkable; it’s the sole LEC I may sell off someday out of the ones I have. I have noticed that the artistic style utilized to illustrate that text does not work well for me. T.M. Cleland’s similar approach with Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer left the same feeling of apathy in me. However, this particular commission? Holy cow, I am impressed. This is a gorgeously rendered book. I’m dumbfounded at the distinct divide in quality and pleasure I derive from his two commissions for the George Macy Company. This came first, and is certainly the more daring of the two; perhaps Ivanoff decided to really show off his talents for this book. Well, it’s all the better for it, as you’ll soon see.

Design notes: Adrian Wilson designed this edition, his first for the Company. He went on to do the Plays of Christopher Marlowe, The Oresteia and Russian Folk Tales, among others, I’m sure. He’s emerging as my favorite post-George Macy designer, because he had an incredible knack for making stunning Heritage books in an age where the quality was diminishing without George’s guidance. His editions maintained a level of class not many others from the 60’s and 70’s convey. Anyway, there’s a bio about him if you’d like to learn more; let’s move on to the particulars of this book. Bembo 16 point is the font of choice, with Centaur (a Bruce Rogers design!) used for the initials and running heads of the text. The lovely T&I design is utilized throughout; the illustrations feature them on the back of their pages, even! The paper is of a special suede make provided by the Mead Paper Company, with Connecticut Printers of Hartford applying the font to them. Russell-Rutter, that ever-prominent bindery for Heritage (and a few LEC’s!) editions, continues that standard here.




Spine – I quite like this one. It’s got a lovely design.


Title Page – As mentioned above, Joseph Bidier provides the base of the text, which translators Hilaire Belloc and Paul Rosenfield dutifully render into English. The text is introduced by Padaric Colum. Splendid title page all the way around, from Wilson’s design to Ivanoff’s stunning tapestry-esque paintings.

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

Personal Notes – I traded in a few books at Bookbuyers in Monterey for this one. Definitely a post-Macy highlight if you ask me; I wish Ivanoff could have replicated his success here in the later Moliere. Oh well.

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):


Limited Editions Club: Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman by Moliere (1963)

April 28, 2011 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman by Moliere (1963)

Tartuffe and The Would-Be Gentleman by Moliere (1963)
LEC # 349/31st Series V.4
Sandglass Number XI:28
Artwork: Drawings by Serge Ivanoff
Translated by H. Baker and J. Miller, and introduced by Henri Peyre
#477 out of 1500

Click images for a larger view.

Welcome to the second in our series of Limited Editions Club/Heritage Press side-by-side comparisons!  The first, The Canterbury Tales, was fairly straightforward in its differences – a little less color in the text, a leather spine, and a more dynamic printing of Arthur Szyk’s miniatures.  This volume, a redoing of Tartuffe (here’s the first) with the bonus of a second Moliere play, The Would-Be Gentleman, is a little more striking in its changes between the LEC and the Heritage reprint.

The LEC pictures will be on top, while the Heritage will be below.

Front Binding – A major shift in design between the editions right off.  Let’s begin with the LEC Announcement Letter.

Let’s do a quick comparison to the earlier TartuffeThe illustrators are naturally different, but what about the translations?  Curtis Hidden Page was responsible for the first edition, taking his prior work from 1908 and revamping it a bit for the LEC edition.  This later edition utilizes the talents of H. Baker and J. Miller, who translated the plays into English way back in 1739.  So these are obviously older and may affect the readability to today’s readers, the LEC Newsletter quickly tries to deflate that issue by stating that the two were actors and great fans of the French playwright, and did much to raise Moliere’s credence to London playgoers in their time.  They also say that the translation is of “…good, fluent, accurate English”, so perhaps the time lapse will not be an problem.  I haven’t read the two to compare properly quite yet, but I’ll update this when I do.  As for the bindings, the LEC Letter gives some of the details, like the design being done by Jean Garcia, who also selected and designed the book, but not the responsible party of the actual binding – that would be Frank D. Fortney and the Russell-Rutter Company, whose name appears quite often in this period for the Club.  Fortney and his apparent relative William designed the Heritage edition’s binding on top of doing the work.

LEC Spine

Slipcase – The LEC has a nice maroon case, while the Heritage has a black one.  Nothing too fancy in either case.

Title Page – The LEC had red text proclaiming Moliere and their name, while the Heritage redesigned the Moliere into a somewhat fancier font to make up for the loss of color.  They year also drops off the Title Page.  Garcia went with English Monotype Garcia for the text and Bembo bold for the Speech tags, which were printed at The Thistle Press in New York.  The paper is of a white rag stock from the Curtis Paper Company of Newark, Delaware, and was, naturally, specially made for the LEC.  The LEC letter goes off on an ink tangent, which may be of note to those curious about that major component of the printing process.  The Heritage Sandglass does not – I’ll explain the further differences at the end of this post.  This was Garcia’s second LEC work – Alain-Fournier’s The Wanderer was the first, and was a lovely book in its own right.

The Heritage edition has different people behind its creation.  The Mead Paper Company supplied the paper, which is of the laid style.  It was printed by Michael Pagliaro of the Holyoke Lithograph Company in Holyoke, Mass.  The tones of the binding were meant to replicate Ivanoff’s recolored illustrations, which you’ll see below.

Signature Page – This is #477 of 1500, signed by Serge Ivanoff.

Page 6 – Here’s the BIG difference of the books – the LEC fully colors in Serge Ivanoff’s drawings, which was hand-colored in the atelier of Walter Fischer and printed by the Crafton Graphic Company.  The Heritage edition strips the colors down to two – a shade of blue and a shade of peach, discounting the black and white, of course.  Personally, the LEC wins out.  The illustrations are much more vivid in full color.

Page 21

Page 90

Personal Notes – I got the Heritage edition first, at Moe’s in Berkeley.  I got the LEC at Green Apple in San Fran.  I paid $12 I think for the Heritage, and $30 for the LEC, which I am quite pleased with.  It’s the second Heritage I’ve replaced with a LEC – The Innocent Voyage was the first.

Newsletter Comparisons – Since I have the Monthly LEC Letter and the Heritage Sandglass, I wanted to do a quick side-by-side examination to see what’s different between the two.  The Sandglass lacks a personal anecdote from Serge Ivanoff (Page 3 of the LEC Letter), where he comments on visiting the United States soon.  After the text information following the lengthy verbiage on Jean Garcia’s career (Page 3 of the LEC Letter, Page 4 of the Sandglass), the two explain the book’s creation progress in their own separate ways, since they were manufactured differently.  However, the Sandglass omits the discussion of ink the LEC Letter dotes on for over a page, but the Sandglass spends nearly half of its last page discussing the virtues of laid paper versus woven, so at least both got some sort of intrigue about the industry.  There’s also a nice note regarding Helen Macy, then the director of the George Macy Company, laying out the text for the Comapny’s Christmas Card in the LEC Letter on Page 4.  The last paragraph in both letters discuss the bindings (which is naturally not the same!), but both begin the conclusion in their own way.  The LEC Letter refers to “But books are not made of ink alone, nor of paper alone”, while the Sandglass reads “but books are not made of just text, ink, pictures and paper”.  While the Sandglass cuts off after the bindery details are given, the LEC Letter brings it all back to Moliere, which is nice.  You can check them both out below.

LEC Newsletter


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