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.
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.
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 four Limited Editions Club titles, which are Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona as part of the LEC Shakespeare, 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 in 1936. 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.
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 top, LEC bottom) – The Heritage 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 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.
Updated 3/3/2018 – JF
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!
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)
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!
July 25, 2012 § 1 Comment
Penguin Island by Anatole France (1938)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations in water-colors by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated by A.W. Evans
Heritage Press Exclusive
Click images for a larger view.
Binding and Spine – Anatole France received quite a smattering of attention from the George Macy Company, way more than he receives today (a shame!). Penguin Island was the one work of France’s that Macy produced twice. I discuss France’s LEC and Heritage editions in my earlier Revolt of the Angels post.
Thanks to Django6924, I am able to share with you the original Heritage exclusive that predates the later LEC release. In 1938 Macy recruited Sylvain Sauvage [no stranger to the books of France, as he did two LEC’s of his before this one, At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque (1933) and The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1937)] to produce this lovely edition of what is probably France’s best known work. Sauvage has popped up here before for his amazing work on Zadig, and I’m happy to have him make a second appearance. I covered his career in the aforementioned post, so we’ll just jump into this book’s specifics. Early Heritage books tended to have production details, and this one is such a book, so I’ll plop that down for some minimal design details:
Since I initially wrote this post, fellow George Macy Devotee featherwate submitted to me information from Michael Bussacco’s book on the Heritage Press, which I will paste below:
I don’t have a Sandglass with my copy of the HP Penguin Island, but here are some of the technical details taken from Bussacco’s Sandglass Companion:
Type: Granjon was chosen for being both dignified and unobtrusive – (Sandglass: “dignity is required in the setting of a satiric novel”) – and its size is 14 pt. The paper, made by the Worthy Paper Company, resembles the paper used for the HP Romeo and Juliet and is guaranteed to last for at least two centuries!
Illustrations: Ten full-page water-colour pictures, reproduced to the exact size of Sauvage’s original paintings by Ralph M. Duenewald of New York, who was also responsible for printing Sauvage’s illustrations for the LEC Cyrano and Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. BTW, “The navigation of Saint Mael” is on page 34, and “Then she went away…” on page 60.
One of the most interesting features of the book is its binding. First the bad news: it’s not leather. In the words of the Sandglass, the sheets are encased in “heavy boards over which the binder has worked a material from the factories of E.I Du Pont de Nemours Company. It is a material of which the surface is treated with pyroxolin. It will last longer than most book cloths, far longer than most cheap leathers, not quite so long as expensive leathers that are used in the binding of a hundred dollar books.
The material is dyed black. Its surface is treated with leather graining. This is just rank imitation. We would much prefer to use the original goatskin which this graining imitates!”. (Would have been too expensive.)
Not mentioned in the Sandglass is the origin of pyroxolin (or more properly, I think, pyroxylin, though there was a New Zealand racehorse called Pyroxolin in the 1890s). It has been around since 1868, when Albany printer and inventor John Wesley Hyatt gave the name to a blend of nitrocellulose and the plasticiser camphor (sap from the laurel tree) which produced a durable, colourful, and mouldable thermoplastic. It is still used today by specialist bookbinders and conservators. Riley, Dunn & Wilson, for example, make solander boxes with a covering of pyroxolin[sic]-impregnated light-fast, moisture- and vermin-resistant library buckram. As a non-scientist I find it slightly worrying that pyroxylin appears to be essentially the same thing as gun-cotton and the notoriously inflammable nitrate base used for early film stock. Not much point in having a 200 year guarantee for the paper if the binding is liable to sudden spontaneous combustion! Another reason to keep one’s books out of direct sunlight…
So, the book is bound in a material similar to gun cotton? That’s fascinating…and scary! Definitely keep it out of the sun or away from any other heat source! Anyway, the book’s front binding has a lovely embossing:
That’s all I can give you for now, but I’ll refresh this post when I find out more.
Title Page – A.W. Evans was the translator for Penguin Island, and there is no introduction whatsoever. Sauvage’s art is a great fit from what I can tell.
Chapter IV – As I do not own this, I do not know the specific page numbers. I’ll update this once I know. This is incredible art, that it is.
Example Illustration – More mastery. I think I need this.
Extra special thanks to Django6924 for the images and featherwate for the info from Bussacco!
Penguin Island by Anatole France (1947)
Sandglass Number 15K
Artwork: Drawings by Malcolm Cameron
Translated by A.W. Evans, Introduced by Carl Van Doren
Reprint of LEC #181, 17th Series, V. 7 in 1947.
Front Binding – For the second Heritage issuing of France’s seminal work, the Club reissued the later LEC Penguin Island. This was one of the winning entries for the LEC’s “Third Competition in Book Illustration”, which the Sandglass gets into the minor details of on Page 2 (Macy says he doesn’t want to bore people with it yet again, and then explains it all anyway :p ). Malcolm Cameron’s drawings won over the judges and netted him one of the five first prizes, and thus the LEC had its own Penguin Island to crow about. Cameron would do one other book for the George Macy Company, Jack and the Beanstalk, which was released in a set of Evergreen Tales in 1952. Cameron was actually an architect by trade, dabbling with his artwork as a side project. Upon winning, he gave up his old career (the Sandglass wondered if his netting the prize had anything to do with it) and committed to being an illustrator full time. Blog commenter Tom Lessup dug up some personal info on Cameron:
Malcom Cameron, printmaker, illustrator and architect
Born in Redlands, CA on Sept. 2, 1902, Attended the California Institute of Technology and Cornell University. He apprenticed in an architectural office in NYC in 1927-28 and then moved to Los Angeles. In 1945 he settled in Bonsall, CA and lived there until moving to Shaw Island, WA in 1962. He died there in March 8, 1975. Illustrated books such as “Penguin Island” by Anatole France and “Notre Dame de Paris” by Victor Hugo.
Exhibitions: Oakland Art Gallery, 1939; GGIE*, 1940. In: Library of Congress.
Source: Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940″
*Golden Gate International Exposition
Sometimes confused with Australian painter/printmaker of the same name, born 1934
Massive thanks for elaborating on Mr. Cameron’s career for us, Mr. Lessup. :)
Some production details, then. France’s text and Cameron’s drawings were reproduced through electroplates and photographs, respectively. The Photogravure and Color Company handled Cameron’s side of the equation. Joseph Blumenthal was the designer of this edition, who also had personally designed the font chosen for the work, Emerson. It is called that due to Blumenthal’s choice to use it to print Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essay on Nature. Designer buffs will want to peruse this Sandglass, as it goes into Mr. Blumenthal’s career in very extensive depth. The Stratford Press handled the printing of the text. The bindery is suspiciously absent.
Title Page – A.W. Evans’ translation made the leap from the Sauvage edition. Carl Van Doren supplies this printing with an Introduction. A lovely title page, this one. I like it more than the Sauvage edition.
Book 1: The Beginnings
Page 30 – Cameron’s linework is exquisite. France is doubly lucky to have two fine illustrators render his work so delightfully for one publishing house.
Personal Notes – I got this at Bookbuyers in Monterey as part of a trade-in, and I’m really happy to have it. I adored Revolt of the Angels, and I hope I will enjoy this as well. I’d like to own Sauvage’s edition as well, which would give me three versions of this work (I also have an early Dodd, Mead edition with Frank C. Pape’s artwork, and that is also exquisite!).
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!
September 10, 2011 § 1 Comment
The History of Zadig, or Destiny, by Voltaire (1952)
LEC # 233, 22nd Series, V. 1
Artwork: Illustrations and Decorations by Sylvain Sauvage
Translated by R. Bruce Boswell, and with an introduction by Rene De Messieres
#144 out of 1500
Click images to see a larger view.
Front Binding – I want you to put yourself into my shoes here for a second. I’m in Monterey in one of its great bookshops, looking through a huge pile of Heritage Press and LEC books. Suddenly, my then-wife spots this lovely title on the shelf, pulls it out from its slipcase, and gasps. She hands it to me, and I’m immediately in love with it. I see that it’s a paltry $35. I made the obvious choice between buy it now or forever live in sadness for passing up a gem at a steal.
Zadig is by the legendary French satirist Voltaire, who amazingly was not featured by the LEC until this volume launched in 1952. The Heritage Press had already printed Candide, which, like this book, was also illustrated by the great Sylvain Sauvage, but the LEC never resurrected that particular work. During the Cardevon Press period it was decided that they would redo that classic with the art of May Neama, and that would be that.
Sauvage had an illustrious career with the George Macy Company. He would illustrate six LEC’s for the publisher, including the first Cyrano de Bergerac, two of Anatole France’s works At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque and The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, the curious The Physiology of Taste, and for a set of Evergreen Tales Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. Zadig was his final commission, which he finished right before his passing. Beyond Candide, he was also the illustrator for Laurence Stern’s A Sentimental Journey through France & Italy, Anatole France’s Penguin Island (the LEC would later redo Penguin Island with Malcolm Cameron’s art), and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Ten books in total is quite the legacy, and Zadig may very well be his crown jewel, as you shall see.
Design Notes – Thanks to the Quarto I am now able to provide some insights. As originally noted, Henri Jonquieres was the designer of the book; I dug up a fairly nice French biography of him here. It was printed by Priester Freres of Paris in Pastonchi font on Lana paper, with the binding handled by Russell-Rutter with brown linen stamped in several gold decorations and a blue leather block on the spine for the title and author. Sauvage’s pen and watercolor drawings were printed in key black collotypes by Louis Duval of Paris and his watercolors hand-colored by Etienne Girardot. It doesn’t state how the page frames were specifically printed.
Title Page – EVERY SINGLE PAGE IS DECORATED LIKE THIS. And there’s hardly any repetition of these decorations. It is absolutely incredible how gorgeous this book is. It may be my favorite LEC thus far, even after all these years. The Limited Editions Club dedicated this to Sauvage for his incredible input to the George Macy Company, and this is a lovely tribute to a grand artist.
R. Bruce Boswell translated Voltaire’s French into English for this edition, and Rene de Messieres gives an Introduction (which was translated by frequent translator Jacques Le Clercq).
Signature Page – This is number 144 of 1500. Madame Sauvage is mentioned for endorsing the publication of her husband’s masterpieces, which is nice. Sauvage passed before the book was printed, so his signature is notably absent. However, his fingerprints are all over in the glorious artwork, which I think I’ll let speak for themselves here on out.
Personal Notes – As I mentioned above, I got this in Monterey, CA for $35 at Carpe Diem Rare Books, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s nice to own a work of Sauvage’s (I now have his Cyrano as well), and I think I got the best one…although I’ve put Sauvage’s remaining output on the top of my hunting list!
Updated 10/8/2017 by JF