Heritage Press volumes preferred over LEC equivalents?

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Heritage Press volumes preferred over LEC equivalents?

Editado: Sep 15, 2016, 10:25am

While in wonderful NY for a couple of weeks' vacation, I've had the chance to see quite a few LEC and HP volumes, something not nearly so easy in the UK. I've been surprised to find that there are a few HP editions which I actually prefer to their LEC equivalents, with respect to general design rather than materials, such as Death in Venice (the HP has far more attractive spine and marbling to my eyes, I actually find the LEC ugly), Ibsen: Three Plays (attractive pictorial buckram for the HP), and The Ring and the Book (far nicer colouring for the HP spine and boards). Of course, I more often much prefer the LEC offerings and all this is very subjective, but are there other examples any of you George Macy devotees have of a preference for HP over LEC, especially given the price difference?

Sep 15, 2016, 10:23am

I think some prefer the HP Journal of the Plague Year, if I recall correctly.

Editado: Sep 15, 2016, 11:40am

There definitely are some absolutely gorgeous HP editions that were not published by the LEC or in which the LEC had substantially inferior illustrations. I know that the LEC never published "The Moon and Sixpence" but there is a super HP edition on the cheap! Seriously, HP editions have got to be the best bang for your buck in the history of fine press...

Editado: Sep 15, 2016, 12:34pm

>1 cronshaw:

Another for me is Masque of Comus. I absolutely prefer the blue and gold marbling scheme of the HP volume to the orange LEC, and the Sandglass specifically notes that the HP volume is printed letterpress (and Dulac didn't sign the LEC version, so there is no loss there).

Sep 15, 2016, 4:34pm

I remember there was a thread on this, and have just found it:


There's some great info in those postings!

Sep 15, 2016, 4:41pm

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Sep 15, 2016, 5:00pm

5: Ha! you would think I would remember my own thread...
OK, actually I did. I just didn't want to look for it :P so thanks :)

Sep 15, 2016, 8:57pm

Although I don't own the LEC, I actually prefer the look of the binding on my HP version of Bradbury's Martian Chronicles to the LEC. I'm sure the LEC has nicer paper and production values in general. However it's also about $250 more.

Sep 15, 2016, 9:11pm

>8 zHugh: I assume you are talking about the HP version in the blue binding with the illustrations on the boards. I like that one quite a bit, and I was happy with it instead of the LEC version until I saw the glittering starfield endpapers of the LEC in person.

Sep 15, 2016, 9:31pm

>4 aaronpepperdine: I have resisted buying the LEC Masque because I found the marbling quite garish. Looking at the HP online it looks nice. Is anyone aware if this title was printed multiple times by the HP (and if there is consequently a superior printing?)

I haven't compared all of the Nonesuch/HP French Romances to the LECs (those that have an LEC version) but I think the series binding is attractive and understated in a way a like (though the material seems to vary a bit in quality), and the printing, paper, and reproduction of illustrations are good in all, exquisite in some. Sylvain Sauvage's illustrations for Candide are perfect in my opinion, and there's nothing I don't like about The Gods are A-Thirst. The Princess of Cleves is typographically beautiful, but I'm neutral on the illustrations.

Sep 15, 2016, 9:38pm

>9 aaronpepperdine: That is indeed the one. I'm sure I might change my mind if I were able to touch and see the LEC in person. Just noticed a seller has a "fine" copy on abebooks for $165. That seems well below general asking price.

Sep 15, 2016, 10:07pm

The LEC Martian is A-MAZING. I've seen the HP edition which is also nice... but sorry. LEC >> HP in this case.

Sep 15, 2016, 10:17pm

>12 astropi: My comment was not meant to be an insult to the LEC in any way. Simply saying I prefer the design of the covers on the HP edition. Especially given the price difference. I'm sure the LEC is a beautiful production.

Editado: Sep 15, 2016, 10:46pm

Thanks for all the advice. I was lucky enough to stumble across The Strand bookstore today (can't believe I hadn't found out about it previously) and got a handful of pristine HPs (including the beautiful Journal of the Plague Year following the prompt from >2 NYCFaddict: thank you!) for $13/£10, far less than I'd ever expect to see them offered for in London. I noticed that HP seem to sometimes do reprints of titles with completely different bindings and illustrations; an HP volume of Ibsen: Three Plays had a completely different binding and illustrations to the copy I bought yesterday.

I confess to being a little bemused that such quality fine editions sell for the same price as regular new paperbacks. Moreover, I noticed that secondhand very ordinary, older Folio volumes sell for more than all the HPs I saw, yet the latter often seemed finer editions in terms of overall design and illustration content. For example, while all the HPs were indiscriminately priced at $12.95, a copy of the well produced but still comparatively very ordinary Folio standard edition Dickens' London was on offer for $20. Perhaps it's a question of relative scarcity, but it still seemed odd to me.

Sep 15, 2016, 10:51pm

>12 astropi:
"The LEC Martian is A-MAZING"
Couldn't agree more! Also signed by Bradbury!

Sep 16, 2016, 12:54am

>13 zHugh:

I have had both HP Martian Chronicles as well as the LEC and I will say that the first HP printing is not inferior in design and reproduction of the illustrations to the LEC--albeit lacking Bradbury and Mugnaini's signatures which accounts for the $200 plus price difference, which is the principal advantage of the LEC (although I find this a somewhat unrealistic inflation as Bradbury's signature can be found on many, many books). The second HP Martian has a lackluster red and gray binding and inferior paper.

Sep 16, 2016, 2:02am

>10 asburytr:
There are at least two editions of the HP Masque. The first is from August 1955. The text was printed letterpress by the Cambridge University Press, and the well-respected Sun Engraving Co. printed the illustrations. The splendid hand marbled blue and gold paper was produced by the Putois Freres of Paris, who also provided striking covers for the same year's The Warden and 1941's Tales of Mystery and Imagination, both of which can be seen on Jerry's GMI blog. Founded in the late 19th century by Georges Putois they were among the most highly regarded of papermakers. By coincidence, this bill of exchange was sold in auction exactly a week ago:
(How pleasurable, if asked what one does for a living, to be able to reply:
"I, sir, am a manufacturer of papers from the realms of fantasy! What do you do?")
Sadly, they seem no longer to exist, and their premises at 3 rue de Turbigo (near Les Halles) are now occupied by Lunettes pour Tous.
A second issue is copyrighted 1997 and belongs to the Norwalk era, not regarded as necessarily the finest hour for the LEC/HP. According to Michael Bussacco's bibliography, however, the printers of both text and illustrations are the same as those used in 1955, although one would want to see the accompanying Sandglass to say whether it confirms that the text is still letterpress. The book is slightly smaller than the earlier one, and is differently bound, having a gold stamped portrait of a Greek girl with a panther on a green linen cloth cover with a gold stamped title and designs on the spine. It has a green slipcase and a Heritage imprint on the spine.
There are the usual complications that infest many HP publications: various sellers firmly attribute other publication dates to their copies, eg, 1954, 1955 and 1960.
Personally I'd go for a 1955 copy with the relevant Sandglass III.20.

Editado: Sep 16, 2016, 9:50am

>16 Django6924: I completely agree regarding the signature and am glad to hear that regarding the reproduction of illustrations as I have not had any hands on time with the LEC. If the LEC version usually ran about $60-$75 like many of it's brethren then it would not be much of a contest. But as it stands I am satisfied with the HP. And I had forgotten about the printing with the red and gray binding. I have not seen it in person either. On a related note I see someone has already grabbed that $165 LEC MC I mentioned last night. I figured it wouldn't last long.

Editado: Sep 17, 2016, 11:09am

>10 asburytr:

I also find the Heritage/Nonesuch Ten Great French Romances to be splendid, and although many of them didn't make an LEC appearance, two of the ones which did--Mademoiselle de Maupin and Candide--are both less appealing tom me than the HP/Nonesuch versions.

And speaking of Sauvage, I find his illustrations, and the wonderful design of the binding!, makes the HP Penguin Island my preference over the LEC.

And as I was looking over my shelf, another superior HP caught my eye--Faust. Although I like the illustrations Clarke did for the LEC, they don't strike me as right for the play, and let's face it, the Delacroix illustrations in the HP are as iconic as Doré's illustrations for Don Quixote.

Edited to correct the Autocorrect mistakes.

Editado: Sep 17, 2016, 4:19pm

Oh no, I fear you missed out on the pleasure of taking a look at all the LECs that The Strand has in stock. The last time I was there, the LECs were shelved in the far right (from where one would emerge from the elevator) of the Rare Books Room, rather than at the very back of the ground floor next to the Heritage books and most of the FS books. Please note that the Rare Books Room closes earlier than the rest of the store.

As someone who has bought many Folios from The Strand (including an F/F Blue Fairy book for $20, an F/F Deptford Trilogy for the same flat $20), I can tell you that there are sometimes FS bargains to be found due to the indiscriminate $20 pricing.

Anyway, congratulations on finding Journal of the Plague Year for $13! What a superb edition it is - though I will hang on to my FS edition, too.

Sep 18, 2016, 4:42am

>20 NYCFaddict: Aah! I must have missed the Rare Books then, but given the combined exigencies of purse and checked luggage weight limits (I was bang on the limit as it was, not counting hand luggage that contained one LEC and three HPs and that was way over the weight allowance: thank goodness cabin luggage never seems to be weighed), that was perhaps not an altogether bad thing. The serendipitous discovery of the Strand Cathedral itself and my modest haul of four HPs was treasure enough on this occasion, I shall save the pleasure of the chapel of rarities for another time.

Now I'm back home I'm faced with the perennial problem of finding alcoves for the seven new arrivals. LECs/HPs are wonderful tomes but in size they're designed more for the Strand than a small London flat.

Congratulations on your FS Deptford Trilogy bargain, it's a superb edition, generally dear on the secondary market, and $20 is a steal!

Sep 18, 2016, 1:00pm

Getting back to M. Sauvage, another HP exclusive I prefer over the LEC is a somewhat controversial one: Sterne's A Sentimental Journey. The earlier LEC was designed by the famous (or should I say "infamous"?) Eric Gill, and illustrated with etchings by his son-in-law. It was produced at High Wycombe and is a very attractive edition.

The later HP was only issued once, soon after France was occupied by the Nazis and was intended as a lament for the France Macy loved. It is not nearly as sumptuous in appearance as the LEC, but whereas the LEC has a somewhat flowery design to the binding, the HP has a unique three-color binding honoring the French tricolor--a somewhat expensive and technically challenging binding for the time. The letterpress printing (probably linotype) is very good, and the illustrations by the inimitable M. Sauvage seem to me right on the mark for this work--although I'm sure many would prefer Tegetmeier's more astringent approach in the LEC illustrations.

A caveat to prospective buyers: the bindings on both works suffer from the effect of time and usage, and you will have to search diligently to find a pristine copy. The cream-colored LEC binding has the tendency to turn to mocha, and the blue on the HP binding has, as is so often found in the blues on books of this period, a tendency to go gray (I think Jack was right when he suggested all the colorfast blue dye in this period was consigned to the US Navy).

Whatever edition you prefer (and I have both though I do prefer the HP), this little work of Sterne's is an absolute delight, and is an indispensable addition to the library of any lover of English literature

Sep 20, 2016, 4:01pm

My HP Comus has arrived today, and i am well pleased. The Putois brothers hand marbled French paper is lovely, and reminds me very much of he paper used on the slipcase of vasari's lives. I checked the monthly letter and while it states the paper to be French and hand marbled it gives no indication of who made it. Does anyone know if it could be the same?

Editado: Sep 21, 2016, 10:59pm

>22 Django6924:
Robert, George Macy's assertively francopatriotic treatment of the binding and title-page of A Sentimental Journey and the lament with which he begins the Sandglass - a lament for a wartime Paris whose gaiety has been subsumed into an atmosphere "of correctness, efficiency, poverty and hate" - would not have been appreciated by people in France at the time, simply because they could not have been aware of them. But there is no doubting their impact nearly 75 years later on one particular Frenchman, Bernard Saugier.
Saugier is the author of the recent study of Sylvain Sauvage's works and working life to which one of the revivified parchments drew attention last year. He writes at length of the importance of Macy and America in extending Sauvage's career at a time when the decline of the European fine press market threatened to force him to exchange illustration for life as an art college administrator. He is not wholly uncritical of some of the compromises Sauvage had to make (and is particularly scathing about the Americans' “feeble reproduction” of the full-page illustrations in the Heritage Romeo and Juliet.) But he is in no doubt that Macy was a good friend to Sauvage and a remarkable man who set out to employ the best craftsmen of the book world to “re-build the Great Library of Alexandria in New York”.
To this assessment of Macy the publisher, Saugier adds his personal reaction to meeting the Macy of the Sentimental Journey Sandglass: a compassionate American who mourns the terrible situation of the French people and creates a binding and title-page that “bear witness in the very fibres of their paper to his tenderness for ravaged France.”
Saugier also kindly adds that the illustrations reproduced by the Color-Grafic company of New York are 'very acceptable'!

Sep 22, 2016, 5:26pm

>24 featherwate:

Jack, I am always amazed by the nuggets you find! Fascinating stuff!

I confess I am somewhat puzzled by the “feeble reproduction” accusations about the HP Romeo and Juliet; though I don't know how they were reproduced and who did the reproduction, they are quite attractive, and if the reproduction is "feeble," one only wonders what the originals must look like (and wonder how and where M. Saugier saw them in order to make a comparison?--I have often mused over where the original art for many of the illustrations from the Macy era must be,and if it still exists).

Sep 23, 2016, 4:09am

>25 Django6924:
As so often with HP/LEC questions, Robert, the answer lies in the soil of Texas:
"6,731 original art works by over 100 artists, used in Limited Editions Club and Heritage Press publications, were transferred to the Ransom Center Art Collection."
(For some reason I see the Center as a series of giant air-conditioned underground rooms guarded by a single librarian, a heavy, bald-headed man seated in an Aeron Chair behind a Parnian radius desk, rhythmically kneading the flanks of a doll-faced silver Persian, the ecstatic horripilations of whose long tail hairs alternately reveal and conceal the semi-automatic pistol - a 1970s 9mm Mouser HSc - lying in his lap.)
The art collection includes original watercolours; pen and ink, wash, and charcoal drawings; coloured overlays; proofs; original photographs; and photographic negatives. Some of the correspondence containers also include preliminary sketches, proof drawings &c.
Unfortunately, Sylvain Sauvage is not among the artists represented in the Art Center collection, nor does any of his artwork appear to have been filed with the correspondence for the books he illustrated; possibly he insisted on retaining copyright in his work and required the return of his material.

Sep 23, 2016, 6:55pm

>26 featherwate:. What a great description. I believe some LT members have mentioned picking up original LEC art at auction in previous threads.

Sep 25, 2016, 3:38pm

>26 featherwate:

I have to get to the Ransom Center some day to pore over this treasure trove. Not so much the art, as correspondence and tantalizing objects such as " preliminary sketches, proof drawings &c."

Editado: Sep 25, 2016, 8:12pm

>25 Django6924:
>26 featherwate:

My apologies in advance for a slight deviation from the topic. I'm decorating my modest library with either original illustrations or prints. To date, my collection consists of one Legrand. Thank you Parchment.

Is there an online resource for finding originals or prints of the work of great illustrators? My general internet searches haven't been very helpful.

Sep 26, 2016, 11:34am

>29 SDB2012:

Perhaps Jack can help with this one. I have occasionally seen originals listed on www.abebooks.com when I have been searching for an LEC book. The prices can be quite steep, such as this original gouache of Boardman Robinson, done for the LEC Moby-Dick:


Such finds have been desultory, and for anyone purposely looking for this kind of art, would be a frustrating task. Again, I'm hoping that other members here can contribute more fruitful sources.

Editado: Sep 26, 2016, 12:06pm

>29 SDB2012:

I have a couple thoughts - first, my experience is similar to Django's, and I don't see these things very often. There were quite a few Irving Amen woodcuts on eBay a while back, but I haven't checked recently.

However (and this is probably a very touchy subject on here) - if you were to find a volume that was in such poor shape that it would be absolutely valueless to collectors (and beyond restoration), it is my opinion that the illustrations contained might then be better served if framed and displayed on a wall. For example, one of my favorite illustrations in the LEC catalog is Bruce Chandler's etching of the sailing ship in The Secret Sharer. I happened across a copy that appeared to have been stored in a sauna, with extensive foxing across every single page, well past the margins into the text. In light of the damage, I did not feel any remorse about removing the ship etching and framing it for my office.

Finally, many fine press works (though not many of the pre-Shiff LECs) were issued with "deluxe" options containing suites of the illustrations, printed separately. I would have no compunction about framing these extra included illustrations, provided they weren't damaged in the process.

Editado: Oct 3, 2016, 4:34am

>30 Django6924:
>29 SDB2012:
I haven't much experience in buying any prints, let alone prints by great illustrators. When I was trying to find a copy of the 1979 Villon LEC that still had Fritz Eichenberg's separate engraving of Death & the Maiden, &c", I put the relevant keywords into a permanent eBay search and registered a similar search with a few on-line auctioneers. Eichenberg prints (but not the one I wanted!) came up quite frequently. And then I was lucky enough to find a copy of the Villon+print on Abebooks, where the seller had mis-spelled Eichenberg's name..
I do have some original Sylvain Sauvage drawings/proofs that came with French limited editions of his work; a set of Barnett Freedman's colour lithographs for the LEC Lavengro illustrations and endpapers that I came across while browsing a particular bookseller's stock; also (by accident) a signed Agnes Miller Parker proof for a scene from The Mayor of Casterbridge.
So if you have some particular illustrators in mind, I can only suggest you register them as fuzzy keyword searches on likely sites.

Oct 2, 2016, 9:55am

The book on Sylvain Sauvage by Bernard Saugier that the perpetually humourous featherweight mentions above (24) is currently available on eBay.fr at a price of just 44 Euros. Recommended.

Editado: Sep 19, 2017, 11:59pm

>4 aaronpepperdine: aaronpepperdine: I looked at my copy and that all appears to be true. Printed at University Press, Cambridge as well.

Editado: Abr 21, 1:03pm

>30 Django6924:
Robert, nearly five years after your post above (30) the original Boardman Robinson pencil and gouache illustration for the LEC Moby Dick is still on Abebooks, priced at $2,500 (£1,797). I don't know if that was the asking price in September 2016, as frankly I wouldn't give it house-room. Detached from its context it is less powerful than confusing and its ashy colouring and grim grey/green frame would soon drive me out of whatever room it happened to be in.
It's not that I don't appreciate other examples of BR's work, which can be very powerful and leave the viewer justifiably outraged at some aspects of the human condition, but if I were to purchase one I'd go for something less likely to traumatize me, such as this one (which unfortunately you will have to press to see - I am out of practice):
I readily admit that on the face of it this illustration may not be a bunch of laughs, since it depicts two rather wild-looking men about to push a third down the Cresta Run without even the fundamental protection of a tin tray, a prospect he does not seem to anticipate with much glee. But at least the colour wash cheers it up a bit and moreover if his beard was heavily trimmed back he would be the spitting image of my usual self - which I have of course hardly seen during the pandemic and its lockdowns.

Abr 21, 3:31pm

>35 featherwate:
Jack, I have to admit that if I were holding a beer bash (hard to do during the pandemic as the face mask collects all the foam and imparts a certain textile undertone to the brew), I would not include Mr. Robinson among the invitees--you would, on the other hand, be first on the list.

We have to cut him a little slack as he did not have a happy life apparently, and was deeply disturbed by the events he witnessed in WWI when he traveled Europe with John Reed, and his socialist views led to his being fired from many illustrator jobs and being tried for his "anti-American" propaganda as a cartoonist for The Masses. It's rather incredible to think that he was commissioned to do a mural at Rockefeller Center--until you remember they also commissioned a mural from Diego Rivera (what were they thinking?)

But I do love his portrait, in full color, this time, of Ahab and for that alone prefer him as illustrator of Moby-Dick over any other, including the highly-touted illustrations by Rockwell Kent--excellent on whales and ships, and Barry Moser--excellent on whaling apparatus, which make little or no attempt to portray the crazed captain who is the center of the book.

(By the way, I am mystified by the illustration in the posted link; can you provide your usual storehouse of entertaining and enlightening information?)

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