Oscar Wilde’s Salome, LEC and Heritage Press Editions

Limited Editions Club (LEC) editions typically are more collectible and desirable than those from Heritage Press (HP), George Macy’s baby sister to his LEC.  This is typically because of the use of better materials and the more limited nature of LEC, in addition to the LEC’s typically coming with the signature of the author, illustrator or printer.  This is not to criticize Heritage Press at all.  In fact, in general, I would invest in HP volumes (typically to be found from $5-50+ in good used book stores) before just about anything put out by today’s mainstream publishers.

There are some debates around if the general rule of “LEC > than HP” holds true in some specific editions.  One of my favorite to compare is Oscar Wilde’s Salome.  LEC published it in July 1938 in a two volume set, one in English and one in the original French.   The English translation is by Lord Alfred Douglas, with a somewhat controversial set of illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley and an excellent introduction by Holbrook Jackson.  The French edition contains illustrations by Andre Derain.  Each book comes in at about 20×28 centimeters with 108 pages.

The English version was printed by the Fanfare Press in London, using Bembo types and for headlines using a type called Legends.  The paper, from Holland, is made with moulds out of rags at the Pannekoek paper mills.  The cover is linen over boards, with a gold stamped spine and a gold stamped design by Beardsley on the front cover.

The French LEC version was illustrated (and signed) by Andre Derain with a water color brush on coal black paper, reproduced by hand (by Jean Saude). The book was printed at a firm in Paris called Dehon et Cie using Peignot type, brand new for this edition created by A.M. Cassandre.  The paper is made out of rags at the Arches mills.  The binding is a piece of cardboard wrapped in a sheet of black Ingres paper.

The two editions were packaged together in a single slipcase. Fine copies are somewhat hard to find (remember, these were limited to 1500 copies).  Comparing the two illustrative styles is quite interesting to do.

The Heritage Press edition was published in October, 1945.  It also has the introduction from Holbrook Jackson and the Lord Alfred Douglas translation.  Pages are deep yellow and french-folded, bound in a nice black cloth cover (made by Interlaken Mills in Arkwright, RI) with a illustrative indentation and a gold stamped title.  What causes this edition to stand out, and what causes it to be one of the most desirable Heritage Press books to own, is that Valenti Angelo designed the book, decorated the pages and hand-illuminated the illustrations (see the gold in the pictures below).  It is simply beautiful to behold.  More nice pictures of it, besides below, are here, a site which includes lots of excellent Limited Editions Club and The Heritage Press images.

My personal opinion.  This is one case where I like the HP version better, at least aesthetically.   I simply love the design and illustrations.  I find much to like about the Beardsley and Derain illustrations in the other volumes, but they just do not hit the same chord with me style wise, especially the Beardsley (art is in the eye of the beholder!).  And at probably less than 10% of the cost of the LEC, hard to pass up.  In any case, both are fantastic and this is one case of having each being the right thing to do!

Enough of my long-windedness, here are the photo’s.  Let me know which you like best.  If you have some photos from other fine press or Easton Press editions of Salome (did Folio ever do one?), please send them on!  Also, anyone with the HP Sandglass for Salome, could you send me a copy/images of it?

(All pictures on Books and Vines are exclusively provided to highlight and visualize the work being reviewed.  A side benefit, hopefully, is encouraging healthy sales of fine press books for the publishers and fine retailers that specialize in these types of books (of which Books and Vines has no stake or financial interest). Please note that works photographed are copyrighted by the publisher, author and/or illustrator as indicated in the articles. Permission to use contents from these works for anything outside of fair use purposes must come directly from the copyright owner and no permission is granted or implied to use photo’s found on Books and Vines for any purpose that would infringe on the rights of the copyright owner.)

Salome, LEC and HP in Slipcases

LEC, English Version

LEC, Salome, English Edition, Cover/Binding
LEC, Salome, English Edition, Front Cover
LEC, Salome, English Edition, Cover Page
LEC, Salome, English Edition, List of Illustrations
LEC, Salome, English Edition, Sample Text
LEC, Salome, English Edition, Sample Illustration
LEC, Salome, English Edition, Second Sample Text with Illustration
LEC, Salome, English Edition, Colophon

LEC, French Version

LEC, Salome, French Version, Cover/Binding
LEC, Salome, French Version, Front Cover
LEC, Salome, French Version, Title Page
LEC, Salome, French Version, Sample Text Page
LEC, Salome, French Version, Sample Text Page with Illustration
LEC, Salome, French Version, Second Sample Text Page with Illustration
LEC, Salome, French Version, Colophon

Heritage Press Version

HP, Salome, Cover/Binding
HP, Salome, Front Cover
HP, Salome, End Pages
HP, Salome, Title Page
HP, Salome, Sample Page with Text
HP, Salome, Sample Page with Text and Illustration
HP, Salome, Third Sample Page with Text and Illustration
HP, Salome, Fourth Sample Page with Text and Illustration

6 thoughts on “Oscar Wilde’s Salome, LEC and Heritage Press Editions

  1. I have decided to rebind both LEC volumes in full Nigerian goaskin, forsaking the stamped Beardsly cover. Then I will make a solander to hold both volumes. I have found out my Angelo copy is a later version not as well illuminated as the 1945 one.

    With Angelo, you have to love him to prefer him over the deliciously evil Salome drawings, as described by the previous poster. Since my first post on these books, I have found an Angelo book I like. I now have my rebound copy of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. It now has a black Nigerian spine with bright red cloth boards and marbled black and red end papers, evoking the chest full of blood from the former and contemporary Pyncheons. (Contemporary to Hawthorne’s novel)
    Perhaps I like this LEC production because it only has Angelos illustrations and none of his Persian-like decorations which I have never liked.

    1. I received as a birthday present (at my request when my exasperated wife said she didn’t know what to get me) the Easton DLE (deluxe limited edition) of the LEC Salome. Both volumes are bound in leather, one black and one red, the latter having the same cover design as the LEC. I had been concerned about the illustration reproductions, especially of the Derain, because some Easton copies of LECs haven’t been as well done. But they turned out to be quite good. I’m glad to have this set and expect the French volume will hold up better than the original.

  2. We are going to have to agree to disagree here. For me, the LEC with Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations is my clear-cut first choice. Beardsley’s dense illustrations are incomparable and deliciously wicked, perfect for ‘Salome’.

  3. Well, there couldn’t be three more differing styles of illustration for the the same text! This would explain why the Publisher produced three versions. If you’ve got the means and value the text, I suppose you would end up with all three.

    For me, if I was able to have only one I would be attracted to the production qualities of the LEC, but end up with the Heritage – the reason being is that the Heritage is a very singular production and unlike any version of Salome I have ever seen.

  4. Good job! Of course the controversy between Valenti Angelo and Aubrey Beardsley will go on and on, but I have never liked the art of Angelo. I have most of the LECs he decorated and illustrated, but I bought them to fill a gap, not because I like his work,

    My copies of the Beardsley/Derain books are in Fine condition,but I want to rebind them. I don’t know where Macy got the art for the Beardsley cover, but it just doesn’t seem to fit with the
    Art Nouveau style of the drawings.I haven’t made up my mind how I want to rebind, but it will be sometime next year.

    My Angelo copy is in Fine condition with a like slipcase with the Sandglass present. I want to sell it and I am tentatively thinking of a price of $40.00 plus shipping. Any one want it for this price, ket me know if you are in the continental US.


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