The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, illustrated by Valenti Angelo, Heritage Press Edition, 1935

Having published a look at Eric Gill’s marvelous (and expensive) Song of Songs (from Golden Cockerel Press), I thought it would be interesting to compare it against Valenti Angelo’s also marvelous, amazingly inexpensive version put out by Heritage Press in 1935.

The Heritage Press edition is special in a number of ways. First, it is one of a small number of Heritage editions that was not born from a Limited Editions Club (LEC) edition (George Macy owned both, and typically Heritage Press published somewhat altered, non-limited editions of the limited editions put out by LEC). Secondly, Angelo designed, decorated and illuminated the chapter initials with pure gold, by hand. It took Angelo one year to do this for all the copies being published. Lastly, released 77 years ago at $5, this book can still be found and purchased in the $10-100 range, depending on condition (the Golden Cockerel Press version mentioned above would cost you well over $1000).

Valenti Angelo (1897-1982) was born in Italy, but immigrated to the United States as a young child, living first in New York, then California. His first book illustrations were for the famous Grabhorn Press in San Francisco, in 1926. Over thirty years, he decorated and illustrated about 250 books, with linocut being his favorite medium.

{Ed. Note: Carol Grossman sent me additional information on Heritage Press to correct and expand on what I have written above.  “Macy came out with the Heritage Press first, publishing original books under that imprint in 1935. That continued until the early 40’s, when he switched to using Heritage as a reprint operation. But he still occasionally came out with an original Heritage. So there are 80 to 100 (I’m guessing) original Heritage books that weren’t first issued as LECs. One thing with Heritage is that books got reissued multiple times. For example, the copy of Song of Songs you have is a later reprint. The first ones were bound in red leather with the same pattern embossed in the leather. A couple of years later he started the Heritage Club which was another subscription series operation.”}

{Ed. Note 2: Thanks to Books and Vines reader Robert, here is a photo of the red leather binding mentioned above.}

The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Original Red Leather Cover

About the Edition

  • Valenti Angelo designed, decorated and illuminated the eight chapter initials with pure gold, by hand.
  • Large oblong octavo, 6 1/2″ x 10″
  • Every page printed in four colors (soft background of yellow, decorative border in red within which a rich blue rule design, and text printed in black)
  • Type is Lutetia, 18 point, created by Jan Van Krimpin, at the Dutch foundry Joh. Enschede en Zonen
  • The book is bound in black cloth, with gilt-lettered spine and blindstamped front and rear cover decorations.

Pictures

{Ed. Note: The gold, hand illuminated initials here give me a good opportunity to show off my new Canon macro lens!  So, click on the pictures of the initials below, I hope you enjoy the detail.}

The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Book in Slipcase
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Front Cover
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Front Cover Detail
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Endpaper
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Sample Pages with Initials #1
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Initial Detail #1
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Sample Pages with Initials #2
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Initial Detail #2
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Illustration #1
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Sample Pages with Initial #3
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Initial Detail #3
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Sample Pages with Initial #4
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Initial Detail #4
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Illustration #2
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Initial Detail #5
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Initial Detail #6
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Colophon
The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, Heritage Press, Sandglass

6 thoughts on “The Song of Songs Which is Solomon’s, illustrated by Valenti Angelo, Heritage Press Edition, 1935

  1. Interesting! It sounds similar, in many respects, to the LEC publication of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam — which was also: bound in blind-stamped leather covers (mustard-colored); printed one-sided on thin, decorative paper, similarly folded; and was hand-illuminated by Valenti Angelo.

  2. The red leather edition is truly remarkable. The paper is amazing and the printing quality is superior to the later reprints. I just added a new thread in the LT George Macy Devotees forum with some pictures. It is interesting to know what is the limitation.

  3. busywine – This is a lovely book indeed, but were you aware of its more limited first edition release? It’s bound in red leather and features Angelo’s signature. Only 1500 of them were made, so it’s secretly a LEC in Heritage Press clothing. 😉 I’ve seen one of the red leather copies, but it lacked a slipcase (and a signature from what I could see), but if it’s available at the shop when I revisit them this next weekend I may take the plunge if I see Angelo’s signature in there, and I’d happily pass along some comparison shots. 🙂

    1. That would be great! Let me know, I have not seen that one. Any idea how many he hand-illuminated? I would assume he did the 1500 you mention, I wonder how many others he did.

      1. I would assume the same about the limited run. As for the standard edition, I know that for Salome, which Angelo did in a similar manner to The Song of Songs, later reprints do not state that they were hand-illuminated. Mine does. So I can’t give you a ballpark figure beyond Angelo doing the first and maybe second print runs, whatever those were (the 1500 red leather editions being the first, and your edition being second).

        This was one of the first six Heritage Press books, too – you may want to mention that in your post. 🙂

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