The Talisman, by Sir Walter Scott, Limited Editions Club (1969)

The Talisman is a novel by Sir Walter Scott which was published in 1825. The Talisman takes place near the conclusion of the Third Crusade, with most of the setting and action taking place with the Crusaders in Palestine, as they place themselves in danger due to scheming and partisan politics, compounded by the illness of King Richard the Lionheart. As with most of Scott’s historical novels, many of the characters are fictionalizations of real people in history. In The TalismanRichard the LionheartSaladin and and Edith Plantagenet (a relative of Richard) are real historical figures and the Scottish knight Kenneth is the fictional character of David Earl of Huntingdon.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a Scottish historical novelist whose writing was extremely popular throughout the world during his lifetime, and largely remains so to this day. Many of his works remain significant in the Western Canon, including Rob RoyWaverley, Ivanhoe and Kenilworthin addition to The Talisman.  In the early and mid parts of the 20th century Scott’s reputation suffered, though, like much of the over-reaction Modernism foisted upon us, the pendulum is swinging back in his favor. His influence is unquestionable; it can be legitimately claimed that Scott invented the modern historical novel.

The LEC edition of The Talisman is illustrated by Federico Castellón.  Castellón (1914–1971) was an Spanish-American painter, sculptor, printmaker and illustrator of children’s books. Self-taught, he is most famous for his his lithographs and etchings. I find his illustrations of The Talisman more or less perfect, classically drawn, setting appropriate mood, with fantastic detail, well representing the story. Quite an accomplishment considering the state of the artistic world in the late 1960’s.

About the LEC Edition

  • Typographic plan by John Lewis
  • Printing done by W.S. Cowell Limited in Ipswich, Suffolk, England
  • Aquatints etched in copper by Frederico Castellon in New York, and he signs this edition
  • Prints pulled by M. Beaune in Creteil
  • Introduction by Thomas C. Chubb
  • Bound in quarter black sheepskin, gold stamped
  • 400 pages
  • Limited to 1500 copies

Pictures of the LEC Edition

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The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase Spine
The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Book Spine
The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Book Cover
The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2
The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
The Talisman, Limited Editions Club, Colophon

3 thoughts on “The Talisman, by Sir Walter Scott, Limited Editions Club (1969)

  1. I have both the LEC and the New York Heritage Press edition of this book, and since I lack the Monthly Letter, the Heritage Sandglass has some interesting information about this book. Most sad to say, this was Federico Castellon’s only job for the Macy companies, as he died two short years after The Talisman was printed at the age of 57. It’s too bad he couldn’t have done more, as I agree this is one of the finest of all the illustrated editions of Walter Scott’s works. The aquatint method he used gave these etchings their Rembrandt-like quality which is so appropriate. After the etchings were pulled for the LEC, the plates were then cancelled so no more could be struck. For the Heritage edition 2 years later, the proofs of the illustrations were photographed by the Photogravure and Color Company, Moonachie, NJ, and the photographs were used to make sets of mechanically etched copper plates for the much larger Heritage Press run. The quality matchup between the two is very, very close–much closer than the EP reprint, which was probably done with offset printing, as copper plates do not hold up under sustained printing.

  2. The LEC bibliography calls this book as being bound in Black Persian sheepskin with black not being the color of the sheepskin. The actual color of the sheepskin is dark blue or navy. The Monthly Letter says the 1/2 leather binding is dyed a dark green, but it looks more like navy to me. It also says the sheepskin is from Persia, but I think this is highly unlikely.

    The fleece side of black Persian sheep (or lamb)grows in tight ringlets and is used to make highly desirable ladies coats and jackets. But I think Persian sheep are grown in Australia or New Zealand.

    The Persian men, at the time of Alexander the Great, wore beards in these types of tight ringlets; hence, the name may come from this style.

  3. I read the LEC as soon as it was sent me when I was a subscribing member of the Limited Editions Club. I love Scott’s historical novels/ At least most of them. Of all that your mentioned in your post. the only one I found fault with is Rob Roy. I have a tough time with novels written in the Scottish dialect.
    I saw the movie of Rob Roy with Lian Neeson, and liked it a lot. However the book is slow paced, and somehat boring. I have the FS version. The English character who purprtedly rapes Rob Roy’s wife, his a espicable played by Tim Roth who does a great job making the viewer to hate him. I wish the Club had published more of Scott, allbeit Richard I was somewhat a cad who enjoyed killing Saracens, and who would rather be off attacking innocents than staing home and being King of England.
    He finally got his comeuppence when he was shot by a crossbowman sharpshooter while attempting to bring down a castle which his troops had under attack.

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