Limited Editions Club: Selections from The Koran (1958)

July 9, 2017 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club: Selections from The Koran (1958)

Selections from The Koran (1958)
LEC #284/26th Series V. 5 in 1958
Artwork: Decorations by Valenti Angelo
Translated from the Arabic and Introduced by Arthur Jeffrey
#660 of 1500.

Curator’s Note – The Koran (Quran) is the most sacred text of the Islamic faith, and some Muslims believe it is not acceptable to reproduce the book via photograph. As an anthropologist, I personally adhere to the discipline’s tenets of being respectful and understanding to other cultural groups and their religious/societal beliefs. With that in mind, I will be putting all of this post’s images behind a jump in a special gallery. For the Table of Contents, the slipcase’s spine will be shown. That way it is a choice to view these images, and will hopefully be a fair compromise for all parties. For those who clicked onto this post via a link or the Table of Contents who may follow that belief, please be aware that photographs will be included at the bottom of the post and will be marked beforehand. I appreciate your understanding on this matter.

With the preamble above duly noted, let’s discuss what I can about this book from the Limited Editions Club’s perspective. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the Monthly Letter for this, but what I can gleam from the book itself is the following. This is not the entire Koran, but selections of the sacred text as selected by its translator Arthur Jeffrey. Valenti Angelo was called upon to provide decorations, and includes his trademark hand illuminations on several pages as well (as last seen here in the Heritage Salome where you will also find his LEC/Heritage bibliography). It’s been a while since we’ve seen Angelo on the blog (2011’s discussion on Shakespeare’s Sonnets for the Heritage Press), but this is an excellent example of his exquisite eye for this style of illustration. I presume he was the guiding hand for the design given how prevalent his decorations are to the overall aesthetic of the text, but I may be wrong. What little else I can gleam from the book is that A. Colish was the publishing house. As soon as I get access to additional information I’ll update the post. The Heritage Press did reprint this, which is a rather nice edition for the Club considering the year (many Heritage reprints starting around this point are lacking in their reproduction values — stripping out colors and such from the text and illustrations — but this is an exception).

Personal Notes – This is the final LEC sent to me by my very kind contact Liz, who also sent along Tono-Bungay and Herodotus’ Histories. Once again, I am incredibly appreciative for her generosity. It’s a book I didn’t expect to be in my collection any time soon, and yet here we are.

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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!

Of Interest: The Whole Book Experience on the LEC Sonnets of the Portuguese

July 7, 2011 Comments Off on Of Interest: The Whole Book Experience on the LEC Sonnets of the Portuguese

While you wait for me to get my hands on this lovely book, fellow LEC collector Jveezer covers this exquisite printing of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s seminal work, with plenty of great pictures and information.  Valenti Angelo was the artist backing this book, and you’ll see how his decorative style makes for a perfect match for Browning’s words (like the Sonnets of Shakespeare I put up today).  As of late he’s been focusing on other fine presses, but rest assured I’ll highlight other LEC posts from him in the future!

Heritage Press – Sonnets by William Shakespeare (1941)

July 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Sonnets of William Shakespeare (1941)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Decorations by Valenti Angelo
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC never put out a specific collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets, instead compiling all of Shakespeare’s poetic verse into two separate editions: one designed by Bruce Rogers as part of the LEC Shakespeare series (although published after all of the plays) in 1941, and another in 1967 featuring Agnes Miller Parker’s art as part of the British Poet series.  I have the Heritage edition of that latter book here for view.

Click the images for larger views.

Front Binding – Whenever Valenti Angelo is involved in a book, they seem to have striking bindings.  From the Arabian Nights Entertainments to Salome to The Song of Roland, Angelo’s exquisite touch is noticeable and delightful.  This is no exception.  Blue and peach inks merge with black to create a dynamic frontispiece on creme cloth boards.  I’d love to own this – alas, this is a library copy.  That also means I need some aid on finding out info on the designer and the book’s creation.

Title Page – A sharp, beautiful title page that gets the point across quickly.  Lovely book.  I believe John T. Winterich introduced this book, like he tended to do with Heritage Press exclusives in their early days, but I don’t remember right off hand if that’s true or not.

Sonnet 1 – Angelo provides a nice little flourish to each sonnet at the top.  Simple, but effective.

Sonnet 2

Sonnet 3

Personal Notes – From my local library, hopefully to be in my collection soon!

Any and all info on this book’s design process would be very useful!  If you have a Sandglass or LEC Newsletter, please drop me a line here or through the comments at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!

Heritage Press: The Arabian Nights Entertainments – The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1962)

June 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Arabian Nights Entertainments – The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1962)
Sandglass Number 30R
Artwork: Illustrations by Valenti Angelo
Introduced, Annotated and Translated by Sir Richard F. Burton
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #59/5th Series, V. 12 in 1934.

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – The Arabian Nights Entertainments, aka The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, were exquisitely rendered as a LEC in 1934, featuring 1001 separate illustrations from Valenti Angelo. This was his very first LEC project, and what a way to start! His simplistic yet graceful drawings give this book a wonderfully memorable cover. For more on Angelo, visit my post on Salome.

As for Sir Richard Burton, his translations of Arabic classics saw a fair amount of print from the George Macy Company. The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yazdi followed this in 1937, with Angelo returning to decorate it. The Arabian Nights Entertainments was redone in 1954 with the marvelous Arthur Szyk giving it his artistic touch. Presumably the two Arabian Nights are one and the same in terms of content, but I’m not quite sure. The Heritage Press re-released Angelo’s spin on The Arabian Nights in 1962, smashing six volumes into three. Szyk’s was also re-released, condensed from four volumes to two. Szyk’s is not all of the Arabian Nights Entertainments. Django6924 was kind enough to pass along this information:

It is in 2 volumes rather than 4 as the LEC, and the ornamentation on the binding is in silver, rather than gold.

This set is really all about Szyk, as it only contains 65 of the stories–the ones told by Scheherazade–without all the other tales that were attached to the framework (including most of the famous ones: Sindbad, Ali Baba, etc.).

I have not seen the LEC edition of this work, but I suspect the illustrations will have slightly more saturated colors than my Heritage edition. Incidentally, since Szyk died before publication, the LEC edition is not signed. Those are the principle differences.

According to my Sandglass, Macy had originally wanted Szyk to do the illustrations for the Arabian Nights, but Szyk was too busy with other work–especially propaganda for the war, and felt he couldn’t do it, so Angelo illustrated the complete tales. When Szyk had a heart attack in 1945 and told Macy he wanted to do the Arabian Nights, Macy decided to commission him to do the most popular tales, and include Taylor’s notes in addition to some of Burton’s. It was a race against time and Szyk died before the book was published. It was a hugely expensive undertaking because of the elaborate printing required for the illustrations and the Heritage reprint was essential to recoup the costs.

The Heritage reprint here reproduces the Angelo LEC page by page through lithography. Unfortunately, the Sandglass omits any further production details! I can ramble about the board design or the reasoning for the thin paper, but I’ll refrain and let the Sandglass do that for me.

Spines – The slipcases are black, just to add.

Title Page – Burton’s “plain and literal” translation was a big deal for a long time, perhaps to this day. His annotations are as vital as the tales themselves, according to the Sandglass. Burton’s introduction is also included.

Page 2657 – Angelo’s art works quite well for the Arabian Nights, if I may say so. Both of the in-book illustrations are from the final volume.

Page 2687

Personal Notes – Originally this post came from a library checkout, but thanks to the 50 book haul I made, I snagged up this lovely set for $3 complete. Alas, they are not perfect. They have been opened often and the endpapers are splitting away from the book. Also, the spines feel like they have been sunned and seem flimsy. They have a cushy feeling when you touch them, which suggests that these books may not last for too long without some delicate care. Still, they’re lovely editions, and I’m happy to have them.


Updated 5/29/2012 – JF

Heritage Press – The Song of Roland (1938)

April 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Song of Roland (1938)
Sandglass Number VIII: 19
Artwork: Decorations by Valenti Angelo
Translated from the French into English by Charles Scott Moncrieff, and Introduced by Hamish Miles
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #102/9th Series, V. 7 in 1938

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – The Song of Roland is a classic retelling of the epic battle between France and Spain (or, to be more specific, Charlemagne’s forces against the Saracens), originally composed in French by an anonymous poet.  The George Macy Company was quite taken with the idea of attempting to recapture the era when this confrontation took place, and decided to have well-regarded illumination expert and illustrator (not to mention frequent LEC/Heritage Press artist) Valenti Angelo take the reins of trying to get the essence of an illuminated manuscript of the event done up in printed form.  Angelo, of course, was up to the task – having done incredible work on the Heritage Salome and The Song of Songs, as well as the LEC/HP Songs of the Portuguese, Angelo was quickly becoming a Club favorite and with good reason.  For this book, he would split the task with printer Edmund B. Thompson of Windham, Connecticut.  Angelo would do the art and hand-illuminate the decorations with gold, while Thompson would choose the type, set it and get it printed.  We’ll dig into that process in a moment – now let’s look at the binding.  The Sandglass indicates that Angelo was in charge of the binding, and I will report their coverage of the process:

Then Mr. Angelo proceeded to illuminate and color the binding.  The sheets are bound into heavy boards.  The boards are then covered with a back of bright yellow buckram imported from England, and stamped with a design in monk’s-blue leaf; and with sides of a brilliant blue kraft paper upon with a design by Mr. Angelo appears, in blue and red and green and gold.

My copy has seen its fair share of sunlight, which is the unfortunate gray stripe you can see on this shot.  The back lacks the decoration, but is the same otherwise.

Title Page – Before you get too excited, Angelo did not illuminate this edition by hand, per say – he did do such a feat with the LEC original, but here the gold was done through silk screen application.  The title font is gold, but it’s hard to tell here.  Three examples of Angelo’s decorations with the text follow.  Let’s focus on Thompson for a moment.  The poem’s lines are done in Caslon by hand, which is covered thoroughly by the Sandglass for those intrigued by the development of text over the years.  The binder is not specifically stated – I would assume Thompson did the work with Angelo’s artistic assistance, but I really have no clue.

Page 3 – Here’s a quick summary of Angelo’s decoration creation process.  Angelo began with the basic black outline of his art, which he then embellished with inks of alternative colors – blue, green, red.  He then hand-illuminated each illustration with gold.  Angelo deliberately wanted to use dynamic and striking colors to recreate the feeling of medieval manuscripts, so he chose vivid inks that would be intense on the page.  Very classy work.

Page 27

Page 84

Personal Notes – I got this for $1.00 from the anthropology club book sale at my old college, and it’s quite a looker, despite its faded boards.  I’d like to see the LEC one day.


Heritage Press: Salome by Oscar Wilde (1945)

December 20, 2010 § 6 Comments

Salome by Oscar Wilde (1945)
Sandglass Number 3NN
Artwork: Decorated and hand-illuminated by Valenti Angelo.
Translated from the French by Lord Alfred Douglas, and introduced by Holbrook Jackson
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC put out a 2-volume set for Salome in 1938 that is discussed below.

Click on the images to see full-size.

Dsc_0024 (2)

Front Binding – I’ve gotten a new copy of this book so I’ve updated the binding to showcase what a non-faded edition looks like. Even before opening this book you can tell it’s something special. Its charming boards (this design is on both sides) make for a strong impression. Illustrator Valenti Angelo was also responsible for the design of the book.  As for how the binding was made, I’ll let Django6924 explain:

The black cloth binding was purchased by the Macy companies before WW II and had sat in warehouses until its use in Salome. It was made by Interlaken Mills in Arkwright, RI, a specialist in making cloth for book covers. Salome was issued in October, 1945.

Oscar Wilde seemed to be a favorite for the George Macy Company. The Ballad of Reading Gaol came first in 1937, followed by the LEC Salome. This edition for the Heritage Press followed in 1945. The Picture of Dorian Gray was released in 1957, followed by his Short Stories in 1968. Two of his plays, The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Wintermere’s Fan, were the last, released in 1973. That covers the majority of his popular literary output.

Valenti Angelo was one of the more productive of Macy’s artists, producing eleven Limited Editions Club books and three unique Heritage Press books, which is very impressive. He was busy elsewhere, too, as I’ve seen his name attached to quite a few books outside of the Macy sphere. So far, our blog features The Sonnets of Shakespeare, A Thousand Nights and a Night, The Song of Roland, Selections from the Koran and this particular book, but there’s plenty more to come. He has a simplistic yet charming style that well suits the books he works on.

Since I’ve omitted it before, here’s a complete chronology of Angelo’s work. For the LEC, it began with A Thousand Nights and a Night in 1934, where he did 1001 illustrations! Next was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables in 1935. The LEC Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam followed in 1935 (quite different than Arthur Szyk’s spin, I imagine). The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yazdi was released in 1937. 1938 brought The Song of Roland. Vathek: An Arabian Tale was mailed out in 1945. The lovely Sonnets of the Portuguese came next in 1948. The stunning Koran was released ten years later in 1958. The Book of Psalms came out in 1960, followed up by The Book of Proverbs in 1963. The last was another Hawthorne work, Twice-Told Tales, published in 1966. The editions Angelo exclusively did for the Heritage Press include Salome, The Sonnets of Shakespeare (1941), and The Song of Songs (1935), the latter of which was one of the six titles in the 1st Series of the Press and features a limited set of copies with Angelo’s signature.





Title Page – If this doesn’t floor you, I don’t know what book would. Gorgeously decorated yellow pages that have been specially cut (the top is uncut, giving each page added thickness), and EVERY single page in this book has an amazing border similar to this, all done by Angelo. Salome herself is boldly colored in a way that suits the page background, too. The gold was hand-illuminated by Angelo himself in early printings. The text is Garamond Bold, and works with the pages perfectly. A masterwork.

Page 20 – 21

Page 37

Personal Notes – I had heard of the beauty of Salome from Django6924 before owning it, and my ex-wife managed to uncover the first copy I owned at an antique mall in Merced. I was eager to see why Django thought of it so highly, and I was certainly not disappointed. This is among the most stunning books the Heritage Press put out, without question. I paid $8 (half off that day!) for it. That’s way more than I would usually fork out for a sun-faded HP book with no Sandglass or slipcase, but this was an exception well worth making. Since then I have acquired a complete edition from Bookbuyers in Monterey (which is where the binding photos now come from for this post).

Despite its exquisiteness, though, I found the play itself to be a little too repetitive for my liking. My loss, perhaps?

Django6924 was able to fill in a lot of the missing gaps, so enjoy his explanation behind the creation of this majestic book:

The Sandglass gives much biographical information about Mr. Angelo, but what will be of particular interest here is that he got his start in the book business illustrating books for the Grabhorn Press in San Francisco, and did indeed illustrate a Salome for them years before–an exceedingly rare edition, obviously, as I have never seen a copy of it online or in any bookstore.

Also interesting is the considerable space given in the Sandglass to the LEC Salome, which was, in fact, two books–the one illustrated by (Andre) Derain (most unusually on black paper) and printed in French (which is how Wilde wrote it). The second Salome (housed in the same slipcase), featured Lord Alfred Douglas’ translation into English–the version by which the play is most familiar to we English-speaking types. This volume is illustrated with the well-known drawings Aubrey Beardsley had made for the English publication of his translation.

The Introduction by Holbrook Jackson was used in both LEC and Heritage Press editions.

The Sandglass goes on to point out that this Salome resulted from the success of the similar hand-illuminated Heritage Press Song of Songs, that was one of the first 6 books issued by the Heritage Press. That book, too, is a treasure, especially if you find one of the earlier editions bound in red leather.

Thanks, Django!

Sandglass (courtesy of Django6924):

Updated 7/30/2017 – JF

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