Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

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Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Nov 18, 2020, 6:07pm

I have a question which I hope does not bring opprobrium down on my head. I have a Norwalk era Heritage with rather faded and undistinguished binding. I do like the layout and William Sharp's very nice line drawings.
I realize this was a HP Original from 1951. Does anyone know if the first group from New York was printed letterpress? If that were the case, I would search for one.
Most of the copies I've seen so far on ebay look a bit scuffed externally and a number of them are clearly Connecticut issues.
There are many Easton Press copies available. My impression so far is that the illustrations, which are black line drawings, are clearly reproduced and don't look inferior to what i have. And many of them have better looking exteriors. (This would not be my judgement if i saw a near fine Heritage copy but haven't spotted one so far.)
So can anyone answer my letterpress question and also offer an opinion of relative merits of HP/EP otherwise?

Nov 18, 2020, 11:27pm

>1 laotzu225:

Yes, the 1951 and the 1957 New York HP issues (with the marbled paper covers) were letterpress printed by electroplates from the type forms set up by designer Richard Ellis. The 1931 Limited Editions Club issue of Franklin's Autobiography was printed from hand-set type by John Howard Nash and lacks Sharp's illustrations.

Nov 19, 2020, 4:32pm

>2 Django6924: Thank YOU! Good to know about the 1957 issue as well. So those ('51'and '57) are what I'll look for. The interior of my Norwalk issue isn't bad clearly not comparable.

Nov 24, 2020, 12:14pm

>3 laotzu225:

Yes, when I was receiving the Norwalk HPs when I was a Heritage Club member, which I was from the 1960s through to the (bitter) end, I would often receive the new Norwalk edition (with their undistinguished covers) of a book I had received in its New York edition 20 years or so earlier--most often a Dickens volume. Comparing the two, I particularly noticed that the illustrations weren't as well reproduced in the Norwalk version, but that the bindings and slipcases from Connecticut were very solid--with a few exceptions, notably books such as Ragged Dick and Princess of Mars which had never been HP editions when the operation was based in NY, and were lower-priced versions of books being offered by the leather-bound Easton Press operation.

I will say it is quite a tribute to the NY Heritage Press books that the printing in those was so good that I'm fairly sure the Norwalk editions were reproduced via photolithography from either the original HP proofs, or from a copy of one of the original HP books. As offset printing goes, the Norwalk editions were quite good, but of course not up to the New York HPs.

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