A Look at a Mix of Later Publications from the Limited Editions Club, Part 4

{Ed. Note: This is part 4 (the final part) of a series looking at a mix of Limited Edition Club (LEC) publications from the Shiff-era; an era in which the book form was elevated to an art in itself, publishing editions with no expense spared. See here for part 1, here for part 2 and here for part 3. There will be a few more Shiff era books reviewed in the coming weeks, as standalone reviews.}

Through this latest series on Shiff-era LEC’s, hopefuly readers of Books and Vines have seen that one objective achieved during this time period was expanding publications beyond core Western classics to include great works from those previously under-represented in the ‘traditional’ Canon and/or well thought of modern works (or artists) that may someday earn a place in such Canon. Being a lover of the ‘core’, I was initially reticent about some of these selections. However, over time I have come to appreciate these works being given such fine treatment, as frankly I would have never exposed myself to them without it; and my literary self-worth has grown with a greater familiarity with many of these later LEC works. For those like me that usually stick to the tried and true, I encourage you to open your minds (and wallets!) to some of these works.  Be it Tanizaki or Ionesco (shown below), Borges, Marquez, Heaney, Angelou, Senghor, Walcott or others from previous reviews in this series, you will find works that will resonate with you in editions that are at, or near, the pinnacle of fine press work.

As a reminder to readers, besides the three other installments in this series linked to above, Books and Vines has taken a look at many of the finest of Shiff-era LEC’s available including: Bookmarks in the Pages of Life by Zora Hurston, For My People by Margaret Walker, Genesis, Hiroshima by John Hershey, Hunting Stories by William Faulkner, Letter from Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr., My Sister Life by Boris Pasternak, Sight and Touch by Octavio Paz, The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono, The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, The Tale of the Wandering Monk by Kyōka Izumi and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

In today’s installment, you get one classic as core in the Canon as one can get (Heart of Darkness) and four others that I had not been familiar with until looking into these LEC’s.

The highlight of this set is Description of a Masque, which as you will see below, is simply beautifully done.  In my opinion, it deserves to be in the running for the ‘best of the best’ of the Shiff era. A Portrait of Shunkin is classically done, lacking the ‘wow’ factor, but extremely nice and well worth collecting. The Flounder is also very nicely designed and with an eelskin spine, certainly unique.  I will admit to simply not getting the modern art associated with Heart of Darkness nor Journey’s Among the Dead, though there is no denying the artists themselves are well thought of.

{Ed. Note:  Readers should contact Jeanne Shiff at the Limited Editions Club at 212-737-7600 or 800-701-8870 to inquire about availability and pricing if interested. As of a few months back, many of the books mentioned above still had limited availability.}

Pictures

(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.)

{Ed. Note:  Apologies for the somewhat poor quality of the pictures here, as well as the small number of them. I was at the tail end of my visit to LEC, had to snap these quickly without attention to lighting, and my ‘good’ camera was out of battery power! If and when I get to LEC again, I will focus on giving these works the time they deserve and will update the pictures.}

A Portrait of Shunkin by Junichiro Tanizaki. 2000.

  • Written by Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965)
  • Three photogravures and an afterword by Eikoe Hosoe
  • Photogravure plates were made from the original negatives and editioned by Jon Goodman at his studio in Florence, Massachusetts
  • The book was set in type (Monotype Centaur), printed and bound by Michael and Winifred Bixler in Skaneateles, New York
  • Insert into the pink silk book cover of the box are Calligraphy panels by Shunkei Yahagi
  • Limited to 300 copies
  • Signed by Shunkei Yahagi and Eikoe Hosoe
A Portrait of Shunkin, Limited Editions Club, Book in Slipcase
A Portrait of Shunkin, Limited Editions Club, Frontispiece and Title Page
A Portrait of Shunkin, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 and Text
A Portrait of Shunkin, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 and Text
A Portrait of Shunkin, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
A Portrait of Shunkin, Limited Editions Club, Monthly Letter

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. 1992.

  • Written by Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
  • Four full page and four half-page etchings by Sean Scully (b.1945)
  • Etchings printed on stock from Cartiere Enrico Magnani, in Italy, by Mohammad C. Khalil
  • Set in Fournier at Golgonooza Letter Foundry by Dan Carr and Julia Ferrari
  • Text printed by Wild Carrot Letterpress on Lana Royal
  • Hand-bound in Nigerian goatskin
  • Solander box is covered in black Italian cotton
  • 10″ x 12″
  • Limited to 300 copies
  • Signed by Sean Scully
Heart of Darkness, Limited Editions Club, Cover
Heart of Darkness, Limited Editions Club, Title Page
Heart of Darkness, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1
Heart of Darkness, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #1
Heart of Darkness, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Heart of Darkness, Limited Editions Club, Colophon

Description of a Masque by John Ashbery. 1998.

  • Written by John Ashbery (b.1927)
  • Three colored wood block prints by Jane Freilicher (b.1924)
  • Illustrations were printed by Keiji Shinohara on handmade Tosa Hanga paper
  • Designed, set and  printed by Dan Carr and Julia Ferrari at Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press in Jannon-Garamond with Weiss titling
  • Printed on handmade textured paper made by the H.M.P. mill
  • Bound in taupe linen, which also covers the solander box
  • 11 1/2″ x 15 1/2″
  • Limited to 300 copies
  • Signed by Ashbery and Freilicher
Description of a Masque, Limited Editions Club, Solander Box
Description of a Masque, Limited Editions Club, Book in Solander Box
Description of a Masque, Limited Editions Club, Title Page
Description of a Masque, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
Description of a Masque, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Description of a Masque, Limited Editions Club, Colophon

Journeys Among the Dead by Eugene Ionesco. 1987.

  • Written by Eugene Ionesco (1909-1994)
  • Lithographs by Eugene Ionesco
  • Translated by Barbara Wright
  • Designed by Benjamin Shiff
  • Set in Monotype Romulus and printed at Typostudio Schumacher-Gebler in Munich
  • The lithographs were printed on Fabriano ‘Umbria’ by Brker Presse, Franz Larese and Jurg Janett, in St. Gallen, Switzerland
  • Paper for the text was made at Cartiere Enrico Magnani in Pescia, Italy
Journeys Among the Dead, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase
Journeys Among the Dead, Limited Editions Club, Frontispiece and Title
Journeys Among the Dead, Limited Editions Club, Title Page
Journeys Among the Dead, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1
Journeys Among the Dead, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #1
Journeys Among the Dead, Limited Editions Club, Colophon

The Flounder by Gunter Grass. 1985.

  • Written by Gunter Grass (b.1927)
  • Illustrated with etchings by Gunter Grass
  • Plates for the images were made by Carl Shutte & C. Behling in Berlin
  • Relief plates printed letterpress by David Wolfe as The Anthoensen Press
  • Translated by Ralph Manheim
  • Designed by Benjamin Shiff
  • Text set in Monotype Poliphilus and Blado by Michael and Winifred Bixler
  • Type printed in two colors, oxblood and black, by Daniel Keleher at Wild Carrot Letterpress
  • Blue-grey paper made for this edition at Mohawk Paper Mills in Cohoes, New York
  • Sheets folded, collated, sewn, rounded and backed by A. Horowitz and Sons
  • Covers made as Jovonis Bookbindery with natural eelskin spines and Italian book cloth on the boards
  • Pearl grey linen slipcase
  • Three volumes
  • Signed by Gunter Grass
  • Limited to 1000 copies
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase Spine
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Covers of Three Volumes
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Eelskin Spines
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #1
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #2
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
The Flounder, Limited Editions Club, Monthly Letter

4 thoughts on “A Look at a Mix of Later Publications from the Limited Editions Club, Part 4

  1. A Portrait of Shunkin by Junichiro Tanizaki. With three photogravures and an afterword by Eikoe Hosoe. 1981.

    The year of publication has to be changed from 1981 to 2000.

  2. I have the Ionesco. The Flounder, and the first LEC Heart of Darknes, as well as the just published Heart of Darkness by the Chester River Press. I think where most people vent their anger is at the Scully illustrations which do not match the content of the Conrad novel in any respect.

    One expects more or less avante garde illustrations in a work by Ionesco. One does not expect such illustrations in a time-honored Conrad novel. In my 50 years of collecting LECs, I find Scully’s illustrations are the most totally mismatched of any LECs in my collection.. I don’t own the book, so I can’r rant about it. Suffice it to say, I would not give one thin dime to own it, and throwing all copies in a trash bin would be a tribute to Conrad.

  3. The only one of these I have is The Flounder, which in addition to being beautifully produced, and very nicely and aptly illustrated by the author, is simply an amazing read! Of course, if you don’t like Grass, you’re liable to be turned off by this bizarre tale, but if The Tin Drum and Cat and Mouse were to your liking, as they were to mine, I think you would be very satisfied by the new direction Grass took here.

    I agree that Description of a Masque is a gorgeous book though I know nothing about it. I am familiar with Tanazaki’s Some Prefer Nettles and The Key though not with the the story the LEC chose. Nettles is a classic and particularly well suited to a fine press treatment, and it would be wonderful to have as well a fine press version of The Key which was made into the classic film “Odd Obsession.” I don’t know the Ionesco, but I’m not a fan of Rhinoceros which is considered his best play, and I don’t care for the illustrations–though they don’t raise my hackles anywhere to the extent that Scully’s etchings do. Again, I never understood this book at all, considering the brilliant job Robert Shore did for the LEC version of barely 20 years earlier.

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