Aesop’s Fables, Designed by Bruce Rogers, Limited Editions Club (1933)

The Fables of Aesop are credited to a man that lived in Ancient Greece sometime around 600 BCE. Aesop’s existence, while likely, is not completely certain, though writings about him are found in such sources as AristotleHerodotus, and Plutarch. The traditional description is that he was a slave who won his freedom by his cleverness. No direct writings of him survive, though many tales over the centuries and across cultures have been attributed to him. In fact, as many as 650 fables are associated with Aesop, though it is unlikely that these all actually came from him. Among some of the most famous of Aesop’s Fables are The Tortoise and the HareThe Boy Who Cried WolfThe Fox and the Grapes, and The Ant and the Grasshopper. The fables remain very popular across the world and are often used in moral education.

This is an attractive volume in a pretty small package, with a vellum spine and nicely done marbled paste-paper sides. This Limited Editions Club edition (LEC) is classically designed  by Bruce Rogers, who many consider the greatest book designer of the twentieth century. He designed 9 books for the LEC, in addition to the LEC’s extraordinary 37 volume works of Shakespeare. As an aside, Books and Vines has a review of a deluxe limited edition of Aesop from Easton Press, it being a facsimile of a famous 1793 edition printed by Stockdale of London.

About the Edition

  • Designed by Bruce Rogers
  • Printed and bound by John Johnson at the University Press, Oxford
  • Translated by Samuel Croxall
  • Biographical Note by Victor Scholderer
  • Illustrated with facsimiles of old Florentine woodcuts redrawn by Bruce Rogers
  • White half-vellum, gold-stamped with decorated (marbled) paste-paper sides, top edge gilt
  • Small quarto 7- 1/8″ x 10-1/4″, 232 pages
  • Limited to 1500 copies

Pictures

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Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Spine and Cover
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Spine Macro
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Front Cover
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Title Macro
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Title Page
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Title Page Macro
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Table of Contents
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Sample Text #1
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #4 with Text
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
Aesop’s Fables, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Signature

8 thoughts on “Aesop’s Fables, Designed by Bruce Rogers, Limited Editions Club (1933)

  1. A lovely book, wonderfully designed as one might expect, but although I find the woodcuts charming, as did Oliver Twist, I want….more. I can’t put my finger on what exactly seems less inspired about the illustrations than the rest of the book, which I find totally pleasing. I think it must be that the stories, though seemingly simple, are very profound into their insight into human character, as well as observant of animal behavior. I can imagine a slave in those times, of above average intelligence and of a somewhat satirical turn of mind, making up these stories as an oblique criticism of the foibles of his masters. (Of course, there is no proof, as Chris says above, that there was a slave named Aesop who made up these stories.) I would expect those animals he features were probably based on real humans he saw, and for that reason, I would want the illustrations to have more of an anthropomorphic quality. I’m sure the intelligent people who read this blog will be aghast at my suggestion, but I would like my Aesop illustrations to be more along the lines of what the artists at Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s and 1940s created–not necessarily in Technicolor (but why not?) but with the Disney artists’ uncanny ability at endowing animals with totally human characteristics, but still keeping their essential animalness.

    Well, perhaps my Aesop would not be everybody’s cup of tea, so until someone follows through on my suggestions, if you have a spare copy of the LEC Aesop, please send my way.

  2. This was one of the first books I rebound. I know Bruce Rogers’ reputation. but I think some elements of his design here are outated. The titling scrunched up at the top of the spine and running the wrong way, at least for American books, looks very outdated. I ran the titling from head to tail and used a crimson Nigerian 1/2 bound. The boards are covered in a red and crimson marbled paper which is repeated on the end pages.

    I made a mistake in not trimming more of the front and bottom page ends.This is a book with hand made paper which has about 1/8-inch of a gray margin around the front an bottom page ends.I should have trimmed this off. I did trim off the top gilding and regild the top edges.

    1. Now the book is not original.

      You purchase the book in it’s “oirginal state” and that is what makes the book attractive. You might as well sign your name on the colophon.

      1. All of my LECs could have my name on the colophon since I have redesigned all I have rebound. I don’t buy LECs except tthose which are ready for the trash heap. I have 30 years experience in book design, and my LECs are not for resale. So what I do with them is my own business, and if I didn’t rework them they would be relegated to the trash heap.

  3. This is a favourite book of mine, not least because it was hand-set in Oxford University Press’s ‘Fell types’, in this case the strong Great Primer (17pt).cut in the late 17C and recast in the 20C. It is a great match to the robust woodcuts. And that lovely type on the spine and the title is the 3-line Pica cut by Walpergen for Bishop Fell which I love but of which Stanley Morison said ‘Really, these letters must have been cut as a joke.’

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