Heritage Press: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1951)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1951)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: Drawings from William Sharp
Introduced by Carl Van Doren; Printed for the first time from his manuscripts as originally written, including his preliminary outline
Heritage Press exclusive; the LEC issued their own edition designed and signed by printer John Henry Nash in 1931, #26, 3rd Series, V. 1 in 1931

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I’ve decided to bump up a Heritage Press title for the holiday, and I happen to have one quite apropos for today: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, one of the all-time legends in non-fiction and arguably the most famous memoir ever written (at least by an American!). Franklin, of course, was one of the Founding Fathers of America, but he wore many other hats during his long life: inventor, banker, post officer, businessman, printer, newspaperman, diplomat, writer, and scientist. The book was a project that he didn’t fully finish before his death (and as Carl Van Doren notes, was written in a blistering four months), but he was still able to document fifty or so years of his busy, industrious life. This is the Heritage version of the work; Macy commissioned renowned printer John Henry Nash to print a LEC back in 1931 as the first title in the 3rd series. William Wilke served as illustrator for that edition, although it was Nash who ultimately signed the colophon. Franklin would also have his Poor Farmer’s Almanacks printed by both presses in 1964, which featured the paintings of Norman Rockwell.

For this Heritage original, Macy hired William Sharp to do the honors of rendering Franklin’s world in line drawings, a task he has performed multiple times for the George Macy Company. As previously covered, Sharp brought the lives of Rousseau and Pepys to Macy’s editions of those works, so he was certainly not a stranger to chronicling the authors in illustration (Rousseau did follow this work, mind). For Sharp’s bibliography, please see the post on Pepys.

Design Notes – …I have none! Alas, I have no Sandglass and this stands as an original Heritage. There is also no colophon to work from. Once I have some production details, I will happily elaborate.


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Title Page – Carl Van Doren, who I briefly mentioned above, provides an Introduction. What’s kind of neat about this edition is that Macy had the text taken directly from Franklin’s original manuscript stored at the Huntington Library in Pasadena. The outline, included here as well, came from the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.

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

Personal Notes – This was another book sent to me recently by Liz. I’m happy to have it join my collection!

Of Interest: A Smattering of Non-Macy Books with LEC Illustrators #1

Hello all! Today I will be sharing five (!) books with you. These are non-Macy editions of several classic works, illustrated by some of the more prominent LEC illustrators. Three will be debuting today: Eric Gill, Boardman Robinson and Edward A. Wilson. The remaining two feature artists I’ve recently covered on the blog, Fritz Eichenberg and William Sharp. These are not my books; my good friend Lois was kind enough to let me borrow them to photograph them. Unfortunately, most of these are reprints of Random House or Doubleday editions, so I do not have designer info for them. With that in mind, I’ll be quickly summarizing their attributes, offering a brief opinion, and providing images for them. With that, let’s begin!

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg, translated by Constance Garnett, published by Garden City Publishing Co. in 1948 from the 1944 Doubleday edition.

Eichenberg does not utilize the engraver’s tools for this commission; instead, he goes with his linework, and it’s a good match. I do greatly prefer his wood and stone cuts, but I think his penmanship is also pretty spectacular. Compare this to Freedman’s LEC/Heritage take.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, illustrated by William Sharp, published by Garden City Publishing Co. in 1948 from the 1944 Doubleday edition.

Sharp takes on Collins’ famous novel with a combination of his styles used for the Macy editions of Tales of Mystery and Imagination and the biographical works of Rousseau and Pepys here. There are full page illustrations that remind me of the Poe commission, as well as many supplementary in-text drawings a la the biographies. There’s some astounding stuff in here, I must say. I haven’t seen Dignimont’s spin for the LEC, but I have covered his work for The Wanderer.

Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Edward A. Wilson, introduced by Henry Seidel Canby, published by Doubleday in 1947

This may be some of Wilson’s best work I’ve personally seen. Of course, I’ve yet to share any of his Macy contributions with you, but I plan on remedying that when I get the time. Excellent printing, too! Wilson did too many LEC and Heritage books to list here, but I’ll include three that I own for reference; Treasure Island, Westward Ho! and A Journey to the Center of the Earth. The LEC edition was illustrated by Boyd Hanna.

Troilus and Cressida by Geoffrey Chaucer, illustrated by Eric Gill, translated by George Philip Krapp, printed by the Literary Guild in 1932 from the 1932 Random House edition.

Gill does a rather fine job here if you ask me. His woodcuts evoke the essence of the work of Chaucer quite well, and they embellish every page. There’s a few full-size pieces, too. I’d like to see the Random House issuing! Gill did the original LEC Hamlet and A Sentimental Journey of France and Italy. The LEC Troilus lacks conventional illustration, but is decorated by George W. Jones.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, illustrated by Boardman Robinson, translated by Constance Garnett, published by Halcyon House in 1940 from the 1933 Random House edition.

I must admit that Robinson does not do much for me. His style clashes with my personal tastes. I’ve seen his LEC commission for Spoon River Anthology (a tragic copy that was overpriced for its shoddy condition, despite author Edgar Lee Masters contributing his signature) and despite being a big fan of the work, his art doesn’t really mesh with me. He also did the LEC Moby Dick. Contrast this to the two Macy editions of Karamazov.

Heritage Press – The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1955)

The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1955)
Sandglass Number I:20
Artwork: Illustrations by William Sharp
Translated by Anonymous, Revised, Edited and Introduced by A.S.B. Glover
Reprint of LEC #253, 23rd Series, V. 9 in 1955

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – Our second William Sharp request follows the first (and is the last of this summer’s requests; thanks to everyone at the Devotees for their interest!), and this particular commission follows the standards of Samuel Pepys’ Diary. There are lots of smaller, intricate line drawings printed in brown ink throughout the text. I must admit, Sharp is quite good at this, but I prefer the work he performed for the Poe collection to these. The Sandglass noted that Sharp was requested by Macy for the Pepys set to follow Adolph von Menzel’s approach for The Memoirs of Frederick the Great (which Macy earlier issued under the Reader’s Club banner in Bruno Frank’s novel on that king, The Days of the King), and that his successful venture at that commission made him the clear choice for the LEC Rousseau.

As for Msr. Rousseau, this is his sole outing for the George Macy Companies. Of all the things to choose from of his repertoire, this is clearly the most well-known! His candid autobiography solidified him in literature’s hall-of-fame, published in full three years after his death. Macy (I believe he was still well enough in 1955 to record his opinions via LEC letters and Sandglasses) notes that he is following the Nonesuch Press in his choice to utilize an anonymous translation from 1783 and 1790 for his issuing, recruiting A.S.G. Glover to restore exorcised passages that the original translator deemed prudish. Thus, we have here a complete English edition of Rousseau’s exploits.

Design Notes: Peter Beilenson served as designer for this edition (and the LEC original). The Riverside Press (see Robert’s comment below for a nice condensed history of the press) handled the printing of the HP volume, using Waverly as the primary font. It is based on the Walbaum font (the Curwen Press used it a lot, apparently), which was not available as a monotype in 12 points according to the Sandglass. The Intertype Corporation made a linotype, modernizing Walbaum and redubbed it Waverly. Frank Fortney bound the book, as is common. The linen for the boards is from Holland, with brown leaf stamped into the boards for the spine’s title and Sharp’s portrait of Rousseau on the front. The paper is “unusual”; a velvety, thin and crisp stock with deep tones.




Title Page – As mentioned above, A.S.B. Glover handled the editorial work here, taking the anonymous translation of the late 1700’s and giving it the finishing touches it needed. He also introduces the book.

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

Personal Notes – I bought this at Second Time Around Used Books in Merced for $15. It’s been read before (there’s some penciled markings on key passages inside), but the condition was remarkably solid otherwise, so I figured why not.

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

Heritage Press – Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (1941)

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (1941)
Sandglass Number III:23
Artwork: Aquatints by William Sharp
Introduced by Vincent Starrett
Reprint of LEC #253, 23rd Series, V.  in 1941

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – Two previously featured icons return to the Macy blog today: the author, Edgar Allan Poe, and the artist, William Sharp. We last saw Poe in the exquisite Hugo Steiner-Prag illustrated Poems; I detail out his LEC/HP career in that particular post. Here we have what many would consider his most enduring legacy to literature; his horror-fueled short stories. Many of the classics are included here: “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Black Cat”, “The Gold-Bug”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Masque of the Red Death”, and plenty more. The marbled boards are perfect too; the coloring is ghastly!

William Sharp, last spotted doing the set of Samuel Pepys’ Diary, gleefully made his debut for the George Macy Company rendering these chilling tales in 1941. He definitely shows some versatility in his style; his later, more restrained pen drawings for Pepys and Rousseau’s Confessions greatly contrast against these more grisly interpretations of Poe’s imaginative narratives. Sharp provided the LEC edition of the book aquatint illustrations, which the Sandglass goes into great detail about. To summarize, the original artwork was done via engraving on a specifically prepared copper plate, and is then dipped in nitric acid to create the print in a watercolor-esque fashion. Photogravures of the originals were utilized for the Heritage edition.

Production details: the designer is unstated. Original Old Style serves as the main text, with English Caslon embellishments and Sylvan decorations. The red ink scattered throughout is called English vermillion. Printing was done by the Riverside Press on Crocker-Burbank Company paper (dubbed “Saturn” paper here). The stunning boards are of the Putois marbled paper family. The spine is gold-stamped.




Title Page – Vincent Starrett is the Introductory man for this set of stories. The use of red ink throughout the text is quite lovely.

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

Personal Notes – This book came from Carpe Diem Rare Books on my first visit there a few years ago. I paid $15 for it, which is a little more than I usually pay for Heritage titles, but it’s Edgar Allan Poe’s brilliant tales! The next book on my Non-Macy tab is the Fritz Eichenberg illustrated Tales; look forward to that!

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

125Wikipedia: Year 125 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar.

Limited Editions Club – Samuel Pepys’ Diary (1942)

Samuel Pepys’ Diary (1942, ten volume set, Volume I and X utilized for this post)
LEC #135/13th Series V. 6 in 1942
Artwork – Pen Drawings by William Sharp
Transcribed by Rev. Mynors Bright, edited and additions by Henry B. Wheatley
LEC #1240 of 1500

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Front Binding (Volume I) – Hello friends! It’s been a long while. Today’s LEC is the 10-volume issuing of Samuel Pepys’ Diary. This diary is among the most famous in all of literature, and George Macy took no chances with his reprinting of it. He went with the Henry A. Wheatley translation taken directly from the Pepys volumes in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College in England, which was transcribed by Rev. Mynors Bright. This is only one cover of ten. I didn’t check out each individual book, but I can say that each one features a different illustration if memory serves. Each volume represents a year out of the Diary. The production details are as follows, courtesy of the book’s announcement letter:

So, it was shipped in two sets, I see. The letter too was inside this library check-out, which I have scanned and supplied at the end of this post. This was the only printing of Pepys by the LEC, but it’s a nice one! This was re-released by the Heritage Press in a two-volume set in the same year.

William Sharp is making his debut on the blog today, so let’s give him a little bibliography, shall we? He worked on five different LEC’s and one Heritage exclusive for George Macy’s houses. The LEC’s are, in chronological order:

Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (1941)
This set of Pepys’ Diary (1942)
The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1955)
The Wall by John Hersey (1957)
Wilheim Meister’s Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1959)

An eclectic set of selections, eh? I have the Poe and Rousseau Heritages, so I’ll share those down the road. Also, he was a part of the Heritage Dickens series, rendering The Old Curiosity Shop. I’ve recently discovered that Sharp also did a Heritage exclusive Autoobiography of Benjamin Franklin as well.

Title Page – A rather fanciful one, isn’t it? I’ve pretty much explained all of the above info earlier, so I’ll save a second explanation.

Signature Page – This copy from my university library is #1240, signed by Sharp.

Page 23 – Most if not all of Sharp’s drawings are in-text ones, but he was a solid choice. I prefer his work in the Poe, however.

Page 43

Personal Notes – Borrowed from my university…so I don’t really much else to add! I wouldn’t mind owning it, though.

LEC Monthly Letter:

Upadted 7/22/2013 by JF