Romeo And Juliet - Heritage Press 1935

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Romeo And Juliet - Heritage Press 1935

Mar 22, 2016, 5:07pm

I have just acquired a signed copy of the 1935 Heritage Press Romeo and Juliet. This is one of the first six books issued by the Heritage Press. The spine (calfskin) is in pristine condition with only one small blemish close to the letter "R". The book was designed by Frederic Warde and printed at the Yale University Press. The sides are covered with Neapolitan-blue paper embossed with gold. The type is Bembo - "h", "l", "t", "k", "b" are taller than capital letters and I am sure this was discussed in at least one of the LEC monthly letters. I wish the first Sandglass had gone into further details about the production. The red lines surrounding the text block look unusual at first (to me they did at least) but work really well with the typographic plan. I think Sauvage did a good job with the illustrations - mixture between full color and black and white. Like featherwate noted previously Romeo and Juliet's dead bodies look curiously deflated. I would have preferred for the book to have introduction. Too I wonder why it did not get reprinted as often as The Scarlet Letter and The Song of Songs. It must be the most popular Shakespeare tragedy and is definitely a handsome book.

Mar 22, 2016, 5:08pm

Great find. The condition is superb. Now I want one.

Mar 22, 2016, 5:13pm

I have an unsigned copy. One of my favorite HP editions. Hard to tell it's not an LEC.

Mar 22, 2016, 9:08pm

It's a lovely book--the Sauvage illustrations are gorgeously reproduced, and while they may not be the ne plus ultra of illustrations for this play, they are lovely in a Gallic fashion, and not annoying (as were John Austen's for "A Comedy of Errors") or as ho-hum as Ervine Metzl's for the LEC Romeo. I have to say the condition of your copy is enviable (and I do envy you!)

The text is "based on the 'authorized version' of 1599" and is the one used in the Temple Shakespeare. Interesting that either the HP editor or the Temple Shakespeare editor was too namby-pamby to leave Mercutio's rude comment "O that she were/An open-arse, and thou a popp'rin pear" but substitutes "O that she were an open et cetera." As Mercutio might say "o calm, dishonorable, vile submission."

Mar 23, 2016, 8:42pm

An absolutely exquisite edition! Puts the LEC version to shame. Please, share more such Heritage Press editions!!

Mar 24, 2016, 9:16am

Mar 24, 2016, 10:11am

>5 astropi:

To be frank, sloppy proofreading such as this is the wurst. What a weenie!

Mar 24, 2016, 12:27pm

Are you sure there isn't a sausage depicted in one of the illustrations? Seems like a strong selling point.

Mar 24, 2016, 10:15pm

>7 Django6924:
>8 JustinTChan:
I have scrutinised the illustrations in my copy and am sure they are sausage-free. A missed opportunity, especially as the role of Peter, the Nurse's servant, was written for the irrepressibly bawdy clown Will Kempe. His line "I saw no man use you a pleasure; if I had, my weapon should quickly have been out, I warrant you" would surely have been accompanied by a virtuoso display of suggestive charcuterie....

Mar 25, 2016, 1:57am

I don't think we should be too hasty here! You know, what could be more British than Shakespeare with a helping of bangers and mash, which is obviously what the seller had in mind :P

Mar 25, 2016, 10:04am

>9 featherwate:

And what about Mercutio's comment to the nurse about the time of day: "for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon"?

Jack, does your research indicate who might have played Mercutio in Shakespeare's time? The consensus is that Burbage played Romeo.

Editado: Abr 24, 2016, 7:58am

>11 Django6924:
Sadly I've no idea of who played Mercutio - although the 1616 First Folio of Ben Jonson's plays includes cast lists nothing comparable has survived for Shakespeare's work. With a few exceptions, crediting an Elizabethan actor with creating (or even playing) a Shakespearean role seems to be a matter of conjecture and as you say of Burbage, consensus. Peter is a small part, but given Will Kempe's reputation as an upstager he probably made more of it than appears on the page. (Perhaps not in the orchard scene, though: he comes on with the Nurse and is instantly sent off again.)
Personally, I'd like to know who played the Nurse. One of the boy-actors aged up? Or a senior member of the cast doing a Charley's Aunt à la Jack Benny? Now here's a thought: Shakespeare the actor is reckoned to have specialised in playing older characters, and he wrote her part in a vivid, down-to-earth blank verse that is a joy to speak aloud....

Editado: Mayo 3, 2016, 4:11am

>10 astropi:
Very suggestive!
The Elizabethans were always on the look out for a good sausage, whether it was a carter's dish of "Bolognian sawcedge" from Saffron Walden or a lordly banger concealed behind a codpiece. Curiously, Shakespeare never mentions sausages, even in his poetry. The nearest he comes to it is in Antony and Cleopatra when Ventidius refers to one Sossius of Syria, a role Kempe might have made a meal of (a) had he not already been dead and (b) if Sossius had actually appeared on stage.

Mar 26, 2016, 4:02pm

>12 featherwate: "senior member of the cast doing a Charley's Aunt à la Jack Benny? Now there's a thought: Shakespeare the actor is reckoned to have specialised in playing older characters"

Brilliant! I have to say that although Mercurio is the best part, if I had been Shakespeare I would have wanted to play the Nurse.

Mar 26, 2016, 4:08pm

13: On the other hand, Sir Richard Burton goes into depth describing various...issues, in his 1001 Arabian Nights!

Mar 26, 2016, 8:15pm

>15 astropi:
Indeed he did! I first read his unexpurgated translation when I was 8 or 9 and found the sound and rhythms of the language intoxicating but fortunately perhaps was baffled by what was going on. Why did people rush out into the garden when darkness fell and jump naked into fountains and spend the night clipping and coupling until the braying of an ass announced the dawn? Clipping what - the grass, the hedges, each other's hair? And coupling - were they playing at being trains like we used to in infants school? How childish!

Mar 27, 2016, 2:38pm

16: This may help!

Mar 27, 2016, 3:23pm

>17 astropi:

For Mr. Burton's crabbed and self-consciously archaic style, I think Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English is much better suited.

Incidentally, for all those (if any) motivated to study Mercurio's frequently salacious remarks and innuendoes in the play, an indispensable guide is Mr. Partridge's classic Shakespeare's Bawdy.

Editado: Mar 29, 2016, 5:55am

I long ago lost my Partridge unfortunately.
I'll rephrase that - partridge is probably Elizabethan slang for virginity.
I did own his book once but it went missing. I now have Gordon Williams' rather more pompously entitled Glossary of Shakespeare's Sexual Language. From that and from my memory of Shakespeare's Bawdy I am convinced that there wasn't a word in the English language that Will and his contemporaries couldn't exploit for the groundlings' lewd delight...

Edited to add:
The spirit of Will Shakespeare re-emerged, of course, in Cole Porter:
“If she says your behavior is heinous,
Kick her right in the Coriolanus.
When your baby is pleading for pleasure
Let her sample your Measure for Measure."

Abr 18, 2016, 10:20pm

Please feel free to comment here: "Fine Press Shakespeare... the greatest are?"

Abr 19, 2016, 9:56am

>19 featherwate:

Jack, there are certain works of art of which one never tires; to paraphrase the Bard, "Age cannot wither... nor custom stale...their infinite variety." In that select group I have to add "Kiss Me Kate." I have seen it probably 20 times over the years and will never pass up a chance of seeing it again, when I don't have to bear intruding commercials. Despite my personal disdain for 3D movies, I even enjoyed seeing it when a theater in LA showed an original 3D print.

At the risk of being thought a philistine, I have to say I find it superior to the play on which it is based.

Editado: Abr 19, 2016, 5:59pm

This member has been suspended from the site.

Abr 19, 2016, 6:19pm

>22 mazadan: Don't despair. Mine was just $30.

Editado: Abr 19, 2016, 6:25pm

This member has been suspended from the site.

Abr 19, 2016, 7:00pm

>24 mazadan: In my experience eBay is just as good as Abebooks for bargains. R&J was purchased off of eBay. I would say I buy half and half.

Abr 20, 2016, 5:19pm

Anyone know what the difference is between this 1935 edition, and the the 1937 printing "For the Members of the Heritage Club"?

Editado: Abr 20, 2016, 5:26pm

>26 kermaier: I think the only difference might be the additional picture (opposite the title page) signed by Sauvage.

Abr 21, 2016, 1:28am

27: To my understanding neither edition was signed. I'm curious if there was a monthly letter?

Abr 21, 2016, 1:31am

Check this out!

"Very good plus. With a pencil gift inscription to movie and theater director and producer Peter Glenville by Katharine Hepburn, "Glen, With the hope that I receive one of illegible with his sketches in return. Kate." Glenville may be best known as the director of the film Becket."


Abr 21, 2016, 5:13am

>29 astropi:
I think that copy's been on abe for three years or more - I remember someone (Django?) mentioning it in an earlier discussion.
So I guess it's over-priced - perhaps they'd be amenable to a Best Offer? :)

Abr 21, 2016, 10:54am

>30 featherwate:

Yes, Jack, I did mention it; it has been looking for a buyer for several years now. Celebrity inscriptions in books don't seem to command the astronomical prices some sellers have attached. This particular copy apparently doesn't have the appeal that would warrant paying several times the price of a copy in Fine condition without an inscription would command. Perhaps because there is no strong identification of Miss Hepburn with the play--although she undoubtedly may have appeared in a production in her lifetime, her performance therein has not acquired the cachet it would have possessed if she had inscribed a copy of Little Women.

Time will tell whether another overpriced Heritage Press book, The Grapes of Wrath, inscribed by Henry Fonda, will merit its current $600 price tag. Fonda, of course, is solidly linked to the book due to his iconic portrayal of Tom Joad in Ford's great film version of the novel. Still, I would never pay a premium for someone's signature in a book, but that's undoubtedly due to my Scots heritage.

Abr 21, 2016, 11:49am

I would pay a premium if it was signed and limited. That is to say, if it was clear that the author or someone else (be it Henry Fonda or the illustrator) were supposed to sign. Typically such signatures are noted in the colophon as is the case with the LEC books "The author signs below" etc. Otherwise, how would you ever know if it was truly Henry Fonda's signature?

Abr 21, 2016, 12:03pm

>32 astropi: The limited run of R&J from 1935 was signed by the illustrator as it can be seen from my pictures number two and three (opposite title page). There is no limitation stated but it is generally believed to be 1,500. May be a little less.

Abr 21, 2016, 1:05pm

33: Did not even notice that.

Abr 21, 2016, 3:29pm

>32 astropi: "Typically such signatures are noted in the colophon "

Yes, but what we were discussing in the case of "celebrity signings" such as the Hepburn and Fonda signings were inscriptions, which is a different matter.

Editado: Abr 21, 2016, 8:56pm

35: Yes, inscriptions are a different matter which is what I was trying to say. Also as I noted above, "how would you ever know if it was truly Henry Fonda's signature?"

Abr 21, 2016, 11:20pm

>36 astropi:

With inscriptions, you have to rely on provenance and the reliability of the seller.

Abr 24, 2016, 10:50am

>31 Django6924:
Oddly enough, Robert, there is a link between Hepburn and Juliet, tho perhaps not one strong enough to justify a $500 price-tag. She won her first Best Actress Oscar (in only her third film!) for 1933's Morning Glory, playing a naive but ambitious small-town actress determined to make it big on Broadway. She's taken up by an impresario, a voice coach and a young playwright (Adolf Menjou, C Aubrey Smith and Douglas Fairbanks Jr). They are intrigued by her but don't really think she'll ever make a stage star - until she gets drunk at a party and after an embarrassing stab at reciting a Hamlet soliloquy stuns all present with a performance of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. This sequence is almost always referred to in reviews of the film. Stardom, but not necessarily happiness, follows.
All four leads acquit themselves well despite a wordy script (based on a play), but there's no mistaking Hepburn's star quality. Like the others she was helped by Hollywood lighting at its 1930s best, as the cheap but remarkably well-restored DVD I watched recently made clear. (The cinematographer was Bert Glennon, later Oscar-nominated for Stagecoach.)

The Abe seller probably isn't too bothered about the non-selling HP R&J - it's fairly small beer compared to some of his stock. $100,000 for a first trade edition of Dorian Gray, anybody?

He's asking $1500 for another HP, Moll Flanders. To be fair it contains an inscription and sketch by the illustrator, Reginald Marsh.

Abr 24, 2016, 1:02pm

>38 featherwate:

Jack, I vaguely remember seeing "Morning Glory," probably a half-century ago, so I'm not sure why I forgot about that scene except for my resistance to Miss Hepburn's acting style, which I always thought excessively mannered, though she still did lots of very fine work, and was, as you say, a Star with a capital "S." Perhaps I should revisit the movie (especially since there isn't much being made today that has any appeal for me).

I worked with Bert Glennon's son, James, on a few projects back in the 1980s and 1990s, but never really had a chance to talk much to him about his father and the fine work which was never was properly honored (3 Academy Award nominations but no wins), and how I felt that for sheer technical mastery of black & white, there was never a film to surpass his work on 1934's "The Scarlet Empress." I once saw an original 35mm nitrate print of the film at the Academy and the only word that adequately describes the photography is "luminous." This clip on Youtube, while probably from a transfer from a 16mm television print, gives just a suggestion of the incredible tonal range achieved:

Something must be owed to Sternberg, who was obsessed with visual style, but he never achieved this level of lushness before or after, even with Lee Garmes on "Morocco" and 'Shanghai Express" or as cinematographer himself on his "The Devil is a Woman."

Abr 30, 2016, 9:48pm

Were all the editions from 1935 signed? Or were there also unsigned editions from 1935?

Mayo 1, 2016, 12:43am

>40 astropi: I have an unsigned copy. The copyright says 1935 but I assume my copy was printed later. Doesn't the HP always leave the old date even after multiple reprints? One has to figure out the actual date by the Sandglass or possibly different production details. I'm missing the letter. I wonder if all the copies came in a box instead of a slipcase? Dating HP editions can be difficult.

Editado: Mayo 1, 2016, 3:24pm

>40 astropi: >41 kdweber:

The copyright date usually refers to the date which one element of the book's production was copyrighted by Macy--this might be the illustrations, the Introduction or Forward, or the translation. The first six books issued by the press, beginning in November, 1935, were signed editions (by the illustrator), and were apparently offered as "collector's items" to the 1500 members of the parent LEC. The titles were: David Copperfield, The Song of Songs, The Scarlet Letter, Romeo and Juliet, A Shropshire Lad and Manon Lescaut. The unsold signed editions were offered to the public (perhaps featherwate knows how many the LEC members purchased). These first six signed copies did not have a Sandglass letter. I own signed copies of A Shropshire Lad and Manon Lescaut, and these have, on the copyright page, "The special contents of this edition are copyright, 1935, by the Heritage Press, Inc." There were also unsigned issues of these six sold to the general public (once again, there needs some research as to how many of these were issued).

It was in June, 1937 that the Heritage Club began sending books to Heritage Club subscribers, and these were marked on the copyright page "The special contents of this edition are copyright, 1937, by the Heritage Club." The first volume of the First Series for the Heritage Club was Green Mansions, Sandglass 1A, and all the books in this first series have a colophon. Interestingly, it wasn't until the 5th book of that First Series that the Heritage Club started issuing the six books from that Introductory set of six mentioned above (the first of the six was, in fact, the unsigned Romeo and Juliet, and apparently these all say "Heritage Club" and not "Heritage Press."

Mayo 3, 2016, 9:45am

Robert wrote "(perhaps featherwate knows how many the LEC members purchased)"
Sorry, guv, no idea. But no doubt the answer is filed in Container 81.38 (Romeo and Juliet: Miscellaneous Correspondence) at the Harry Ransom Center.

Something else I don't know is how many copies of these signed inaugural Heritage books are knocking about. According to Michael Bussacco, John Dreyfus said that Macy issued at least nine of the books with title pages carrying the dual imprint of the Heritage Press and the Nonesuch Press, London. Of these, some were signed and some not:
A. The Scarlet Letter. Frontispiece signed by designer and illustrator W.A. Dwiggins. ©1935 The Heritage Press, Inc. No colophon.
B. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Frontispiece signed by illustrator Sylvain Sauvage. ©1935 The Heritage Press, Inc. No colophon. (The US copyright was granted on 1 December 1935, and covered “special contents, including illustration and decoration.”)
C. A Shropshire Lad. ©1935 The Heritage Press, Inc. No colophon.
D. Green Mansions. ©1936 The Heritage Press, Inc. With colophon.
E-1. The Pickwick Papers. ©1936 The Heritage Press, Inc. With colophon.
E-2. The Pickwick Papers ©1936 The Heritage Press, Inc. With colophon.
F. The Compleat Angler ©1936 The Heritage Press, Inc. With colophon.
G. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. ©1936 The Heritage Press, Inc. With colophon
H. Leaves of Grass. Limited edition of 1000 copies. Signed by Rockwell Kent. ©1936 The Heritage Press, Inc. With colophon.
I. The Story of Manon Lescaut. Frontispiece signed by illustrator Pierre Brissaud. ©1936 The Heritage Press, Inc. No colophon.

Meanwhile in November 1935, Macy began to release the following (known as the First Series) under the single Heritage Press imprint and same copyright years as the dual imprint editions. and are detailed in Sandglass 101 LL
FS-1 David Copperfield.
FS-2 Songs of Songs.
FS-3 The Scarlet Letter.
FS-4 Romeo and Juliet
FS-5 A Shropshire Lad.
FS-6 Manon Lescaut.
Bussacco confirms what Django mentions: that 1500 of these were signed copies with an additional hand painted illustration signed by the illustrator and utilized as a frontispiece and initially offered to subscribers of the LEC as “collector’s items”.
So signed copies of The Scarlet Letter, Romeo and Juliet and Manon Lescaut should be available under both the dual and single imprints.

Macy then changed the copyright holder from the Heritage Press to Members of the Heritage Club and issued the Club's First Prospectus. This aimed to attract 5000 Charter Members, and detailed the 12 irresistible books they would receive starting in June 1937 (the series known as Series A). It does not mention that some of them had already been published!

As far I can see, Sauvage's Romeo and Juliet, unlike some of the other early HP/HC books, was not republished after 1937, so exists in only four states:
Under a dual imprint, © 1935 The Heritage Press, Inc. Signed. No colophon. Total number of copies unknown (?).
Under a single imprint, © 1935 The Heritage Press, Inc. Signed. No colophon. Limited to 1500 copies.
Under a single imprint, © 1935 The Heritage Press, Inc. Unsigned. No colophon. Total number of copies unknown (?).
Under a single imprint, ©1937 Members of the Heritage Club. Unsigned. With colophon. Limited to 5000 copies.
If I'm right, Ken's unsigned 1935 copy is almost certainly a 1935 printing.

An OTT diversion mainly for Robert: You've more than once bemoaned the fact that the comparative unpopularity of Borrow's Lavengro put paid to a follow-up LEC of The Romany Rye. The Harry Ransom Center container right next door to those for Romeo+Juliet is tantalizingly labelled "The Romany Rye 1957-Zajac, Jack". Presumably another of those proposals that fizzled out. But who proposed to whom? Helen to Jack or vice versa? Whichever, it would have been a very different book to Lavengro (not necessarily any harm in that): Zajac is a West Coast Romantic Surrealist. I say 'is' because he's happily still alive and living in his birth town of Youngstown Ohio; wonder if he remembers...
Incidentally, the container preceding the Romany Rye one is labelled Maxims of Duc de la Rochefoucauld – 1968, while the container following the Romeo+Juliet ones houses miscellaneous 1954 correspondence about a Rose (should be Rosa) Covarrubias Cook Book. Verily, R+J apart, this corner of the Ransom vaults is a wee charnel house of lost dreams...

Mayo 3, 2016, 1:27pm

>43 featherwate: Great information!

In the case of Song of Solomon the additional signed lithograph is at the end of the book. Probably because there is a frontis already.

Mayo 3, 2016, 6:26pm

>43 featherwate: Wow, fabulous research!

Abr 19, 11:45pm

>30 featherwate: The R&J with the Hepburn inscription is still listed at abebooks: $575.00 +$9 shipping.

Abr 20, 11:30am

>46 Addison372:

I think that will be there for some time at that price. I don't think Hepburn fans are as numerous as they once were, her association with the play is most meaningful to those who might have seen it, and I doubt many of those are still buying books.

Abr 20, 1:13pm

>46 Addison372: that listing has to have one of the least enticing pictures posted by a seller I’ve yet seen on Abe.

Either the seller has zero sense of visual appeal or can’t be bothered to effectively market a small fry item (relative to the other stock). Neither possibility is a great look for a genuine antiquarian.

If you’re going to bother at all to take a photo of the actual item being sold, why not at least take a clear one?

Abr 20, 7:31pm

>48 abysswalker:

Whadda ya want for s $600 book that's Very Good plus (plus what?) with somebody's writing in it? 3D? IMAX? Don't be so picky!


Abr 21, 2:57pm

>43 featherwate: Oh, let's confuse matters a bit, what? Several things concerning those early HP books:

The Heritage Press initial series.

(1) My copy of the signed Manon Lescaut: title page has New York / Heritage Press/ 1935 and the copyright date is 1935, not 1936. Also, Will Ransom's Selective Check Lists of Press Books gives 1935 as the publication date and indicates 3000 copies in this edition.

(2) Ransom gives the limitation of the Song of Songs as 3000 copies for the "first edition." This is the one bound in red leather.

(3) In fact, Ransom indicates all of the first 6 were issued in editions of 3000 copies. However, a note after No. 6 in his checklist (Lescaut) says that "Fifteen hundred copies of numbers 1 - 6 were issued with an additional illustration signed by the artist." This leaves one to assume that the editions of 3000 copies were all unsigned.

Abr 23, 5:16pm

>51 Glacierman:
I love confusion. Where would we be without it?

Abr 24, 7:05pm

>27 BuzzBuzzard: I just received a copy of R&J, bought from an eBay seller, who supplied 10 photos but didn't include the frontispiece. I'm wondering if I should be happy* about what appears to be Sylvain Sauvage's signature under the illustration opposite the title page, or just pleased about the generally good condition. (No slipcase, but from the pictures I saw, the slipcase wasn't LEC quality, and the boards aren't perfectly flat.) So if it looks like a signature it is just that, and not added to the plate in the later editions?

*Even happier because she reduced the asking price by 40% after I put it on my watch list.

Editado: Abr 25, 10:26am

>53 Addison372: My copy came in a box, not a slipcase. The box is in fine condition as is my copy of R & J but it's just an ordinary cardboard box. If the condition of your book is fine, don't worry about the box/slipcase.

Abr 25, 8:17am

>54 kdweber: Thanks for your answer. I'm not at all worried about the box, just curious about the apparent signature.

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