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New book to be published on the history of the LEC

George Macy devotees

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Jun 19, 2012, 2:52pm Top

I read on the Books and Vines News that Carol Grossman has finished her book on the history of the LEC. I have known Carol for some time and she is extremely qualified to write such a book. At one time she had a complete collection of all LECs published from 1929 onward. I don't know if her collection is still intact, but her qualifications for writing such a book are excellent. I for one, would be interested in obaining a copy as soon as it is published.

Jun 19, 2012, 3:26pm Top

I would assume that most of us on this thread will be purchasing her book. I know I'm looking forward to reading it.

Jun 19, 2012, 3:32pm Top

Me also! Small correction, it has not been completed yet, lots to finish up this year. But, as you all mention, will be a must have.

May 9, 2013, 3:06am Top

Does anyone know when this book is due to be published? I have googled about it but learnt no news, and her Four Rivers webpage has been under reconstruction for almost a year by now.

May 10, 2013, 3:52pm Top

Last I heard was 'this year'! From a publishing perspective, I can understand why they do not want to get much more specific than that...but hopefully in some numbers of months we will all be reading this!

Edited: May 12, 2013, 4:28am Top

To me, the most interesting part of this book will be the Shiff years; how the club slowly changed direction. The roles of people involved, Sid, Jeanne and Benjamin Shiff. I have read here on LibraryThing that some titles were planned before Shiff bought the club; someone mentioned Diary of a Country Priest. It would be interesting to learn which of the books were already planned.

I just wonder how one title might have lead to another: Wuthering Heights might have felt like a triumph (and rightly so!). At the same time came Paysan de Paris. Cartier-Bresson and Balthus knew eachother. The same applies to Martine Franck. Then came Sight and Touch, Sonnets to Orpheus and Cosi fan Tutte, Three Poems from Les Fleurs du Mal and Vowels. Even Balthus’ wife illustrated a book. Was this demanded by Balthus or an idea by Shiff?

I do not know much about the Afro-American books (I want to find a copy of Hiroshima, but Genesis doesn’t appeal to me. The illustrations remind me of James Brown as the dancing priest in The Blues Brothers), but perhaps the situation might be the same there - one book leading to another?

Some people have written that late Shiff books weren’t books proper, but rather art portfolios. I wouldn’t consider for example Celan (one etching by the poet’s wife, and not even signed by her) or Declaration of Independence art portfolios. There's more to this and I hope that the author will be at liberty to reveal the full story.

May 12, 2013, 10:10am Top

The Shiff years would be the least interesting for me.

May 12, 2013, 10:17am Top

Don't get me wrong, Django, the Macy years are interesting, but so much has been written already, the Ten Years and William Shakespeare, The Quarto-Millenary and so on. The Shiff years are more like a mystery, and therefore very interesting.

Do you mean that the sede vacante years are more interesting than the Shiff years? :-)

Edited: May 12, 2013, 11:54am Top

Actually, the Quarto-Millenary, except for production details which repeat what's in in the colophons for the books or in the Monthly Letters, just repeats Macy's fascinating anecdotes and opinions on the first 10 years of the Club's production. I'm hoping the new book goes into detail about the founding and growth of the Heritage Club, Macy's activities during the war years when he lost all the resources in England, France and Italy for the printing of fine books (which lead to a nervous breakdown from overwork), and in his relationship with the Nonesuch Press, although I suspect that if the book is just a history of the LEC, this important aspect of George Macy's career will be slighted.

Jun 3, 2013, 7:22pm Top

From what I understand, the book will be devoted primarily to the Macy years and his relationship with the literati of publishing in New York and Europe. I also, have little interest in the Shiff years except when he carried on the Macy tradition of books like the Dubliners and Hiroshima. I don't think I would have been able to procure books like 100 Years of Solitude, The Leopard, and The Fall of the House of Usher without those being planed before Shiff took over. Except for Wuthering Heights and a few others, I would have no interest in the Shiff oevre. My last LEC was the Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea. I got a good deal from a seller who needed the money or I wouldn't have bought it.

Sep 26, 2014, 12:03am Top

Is there any news about this eagerly awaited book?

Sep 26, 2014, 10:37am Top

>11 EwanB:

Odd that two years after Don's original post, still no news of this book, though I am well aware of how long it takes a book to be published--and sometimes it never is. Perhaps Don can provide some information, as he knows Ms. Grossman.

Sep 26, 2014, 4:15pm Top

I don't know any more than I knew a year ago. The last time I talked to Carol, she said the book was in progress and would be published by Oak Knoll.

Sep 26, 2014, 6:46pm Top

While googling to see whether there was any more recent news of the Ms Grossman's history I came across the following, which I don't remember seeing mentioned in this group. It is tangential to the fate of the book but should be of interest to GMDs. The award referred to was announced in January of last year:
Limited Editions Club
The 2013 American Printing History Association (APHA) Awards Committee names the Limited Editions Club for its institutional award. Recognizing that institutions as well as individuals make important contributions to history and that the preservation of such history-minded institutions is a high priority today, APHA stipulates that the criteria for this award should be the same as those for the individual award, namely that the institution is making “a distinguished contribution to the study, recording, preservation, or dissemination of printing history, in any specific area or in general terms.”
Over the course of more than eighty years, and through nearly six hundred finely crafted volumes, the Limited Editions Club has promoted unique collaborations between visual artists and writers, typographers and papermakers, printers and binders. Its productions have reached well beyond its member-subscribers, who have ranged in number from a few hundred to two thousand, to collectors of various kinds, including many institutional libraries – among them, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which in 1970 acquired the Club’s archives from the first phases of its operations. The Limited Editions Club has cultivated public awareness and sustained appreciation for the traditional arts of the book through decades of rapid change in the publishing and distribution of printed works, and now through an electronic revolution. It has enjoyed a longer continuous operation than any of the individual fine and private presses that were established in the wake of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and has involved many of their artisans in the realization of its manifold productions.
The Limited Editions Club was started in 1929 by George Macy. At age 29, he was an avid reader hoping to make his living from books. The idea was to publish handsomely illustrated classic titles in small quantities; members received books for their dues. The pictures were by illustrators, photographers, and sometimes “fine artists,” such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Grant Wood. Macy frequently used the best designers and printers, including Bruce Rogers and Francis Meynell.
Limited Editions Club was continued by his wife, and then his son, after his death in 1956. In 1970 it was sold, and ownership changed frequently over the next few years. Sidney Shiff acquired it in 1978 and gradually moved towards producing only livres d’artiste. Though the focus shifted away from affordability, Shiff was able to continue the tradition of craftsmanship. Michael and Winifred Bixler, the late Dan Carr and his partner Julia Ferrari, Wild Carrot Letterpress, and Jon Goodman have been among the many contributing bookmakers.
With Sidney Schiff’s death, the baton has again been passed, this time to Jeanne Schiff, his wife. Books are continuing to appear, and a book about the Club is being written by Carol Grossman, and will be published this year by Oak Knoll.
It is a pleasure to present this year’s American Printing History Association Institutional Award to the Limited Editions Club, with Jeanne Schiff accepting.

The awards were presented during the Annual Meeting of the American Printing History Association, on Saturday, January 26, 2013, The Morgan Library, New York City.

Sep 29, 2014, 11:14am Top

Hm, I wonder if Jeanne Shiff had come to the conclusion of ceasing book production of the LEC at that point or not. I seem to recollect hearing busywine mention her decision to stop publishing around that time, or even earlier!

Dec 23, 2014, 12:10am Top

Just received the latest catalog from Oak Knoll Books. In it, they mention that the publishing and printing history of the LEC will soon be documented in a book published by the Oak Knoll Press with an estimated publication date in 2015. Hopefully, this book is finally about to be released!

Dec 23, 2014, 7:45am Top

Better sign up for Oak Knoll catalogue then.

Dec 23, 2014, 9:50am Top

I wonder if the impending publication is behind the rather amazing price increase of LEC books I've been seeing on eBay? When I checked this morning I saw someone had offered Uncle Tom's Cabin for $725, Little Women for $195, Dracula for $300, (the better) Heart of Darkness for $275, etc. Although there are still some LECs to be found at prices comparable to what they were a few years ago, in general there is an overall price increase that seems several times greater than the rate of inflation.

Dec 23, 2014, 11:05am Top

> 18
Robert, I think the increase in minimum bid prices or buy-it-now prices you are seeing on eBay is limited to a handful of overly optimistic sellers (who I might observe have to keep relisting their offerings since rational people are not paying their asking prices) rather than a general uptick in the marketplace. I am still shocked to find LECs for which I paid quite dearly go for relative bargains with some regularity in the "sold" searches on eBay. I realize you already know this, but I would again suggest there is vast gap between what is asked in price and what is ultimately realized. If anything, I think the longer-term trend in LEC prices over the past several years I have been collecting is a decrease in average price rather than any upward surge.

Dec 23, 2014, 11:17am Top

>18 Django6924:, 19

Two days ago someone paid $495 for Death of a Salesman, which is about $200 more than several copies sold for in the preceeding months. If anyone wants my copy for $495, I'll even ship it for free.

Dec 23, 2014, 12:16pm Top

>19 UK_History_Fan:

Perhaps you're right, although I've been buying LECs for over 30 years, and although for the pre-Shiff era books the prices seemed to drop between the 1980s and earlier 2000s, in the last five years I seem to be seeing a steep rise in the price of Fine copies from that period.

>20 aaronpepperdine:

Have you read it yet? Great play, and you should check out the filmed version with Lee Marvin as Hickey.

Dec 23, 2014, 1:57pm Top

>18 Django6924: Oak Knoll is selling Uncle Tom's Cabin for $350 and Dracula for $285.

>20 aaronpepperdine: On the other hand, I just bought a Fine copy of Death of a Salesman for under $300 this month. Nicely produced but ugly illustrations.

Dec 23, 2014, 5:14pm Top

>22 kdweber:

I paid $275 for my Fine copy of UTC (minus Letter) in 2003. Do not have the LEC of Dracula, as I have always felt it overpriced, and that was when they were asking $100 for it.

Dec 23, 2014, 5:32pm Top

I wonder if prices rise in December due to the holidays?

Feb 9, 2017, 11:38am Top

Spoke with Oak Knoll at CODEX 2017. After a long hiatus where it was on the back burner, it seems this book is back in process and could be out soon.

Feb 9, 2017, 2:06pm Top

I spoke with Oak Knoll at Codex 2017 as well, they said they've received a complete set of pre-Shiff LECs. They're working on a new catalog and they should be on sale soon.

Feb 9, 2017, 2:58pm Top

Exciting! Thanks for the update :)

Feb 9, 2017, 10:10pm Top

>25 jveezer: I hear from certain people that should know, likely by fall. Am super excited!

Feb 10, 2017, 12:32am Top

I must have missed the memo. What is about this new LEC catalog that is so exciting?

Feb 10, 2017, 1:40am Top

>29 BuzzBuzzard: The excitement is over the hopeful publishing of the book on the history of the LEC (original thread topic) not Oak Knoll's latest catalog.

Feb 10, 2017, 6:38am Top

Great news! According to the Oak Knoll Special Catalogue 28: Limited Editions Club that they issued about this time last year, they intended to publish before the end of 2016. I asked them in July if they were still on schedule. They replied "Not on the schedule we had anticipated, but proceeding nonetheless."!
Let's hope it comes out in time to go on my Christmas would-really-like-this list.....

Feb 10, 2017, 11:18am Top

>25 jveezer:

Is this Carol Grossman's book?

Edited: Mar 30, 2017, 10:23am Top

>32 Django6924:

Now in Oak Knoll catalog, scheduled for publication in May but will be out later in the summer (as forecast at >28 busywine: above): Press Here to Order Now!
(Pity there wasn't room for UB on the cover...)

Mar 30, 2017, 10:08am Top

Thanks! Ordered! I wonder what shipping costs will be, but I do not care. This is a must have.

Edited: Apr 6, 2017, 7:59pm Top

I was somewhat startled that page 192, one of the sample pages that Oak Knoll have put up, might be taken to suggest that The Story of an African Farm was set in "Basutoland, South Africa". Leaving aside that Basutoland, now Lesotho, has never been part of South Africa (unless you count its brief annexation to the Cape Colony in the 1870s), I rather had the impression from reading the book that it was set in the Karoo, as topographically far removed from the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho as it is possible to get. It seems Paul Hogarth laboured under the same impression to judge from his masterly endpapers for the LEC edition showing a flat semidesert terrain with ostriches.

Edited: Apr 6, 2017, 8:21pm Top

>31 featherwate:
That's well spotted! The story is certainly set in a desert area, as the designer of the first, now extremely rare two-volume British edition knew:

(Love those ostriches! but not as much as I love the LEC's bark-cloth binding.)

An unfortunate mistake; but the cross-references may clear up whether it is Ms Grossman's or was George Macy's. The latter's initial enthusiasm for having a Basuto artist to do the illustrations suggests he may not have known that Basutoland was a mountainous, not desert, area and therefore could not possibly be the book's setting.

Edited: Apr 27, 2017, 10:18pm Top

Pretty good sale at Oak Knoll right now, got some books 50% off, I think that coupon code SPRING2017 gets 17% off non-sale items, including the Grossman book.

Apr 28, 2017, 8:09pm Top

I tried that code for the Grossman book, but it didn't work for me. I am a previous customer, but never bothered registering -- perhaps that is why. But it could also be because the book is not yet available. Can anyone else report on this? Thanks.

Apr 28, 2017, 9:57pm Top

Sorry, must have confused the LOA code from earlier in the month, code is SPRING17, just used it for Grossman($111), but had to apply it twice before it was accepted. I read this from an e-mail sent about the sale where it was mentioned that sale coupons will now appear on OAK Knoll facebook and twitter sites.

Apr 28, 2017, 10:50pm Top

Damn! Ordered the Grossman book 2 weeks ago, so missed the discount.

Apr 29, 2017, 7:25pm Top

Okay, it worked this time, on my first try. Thank you.

I am glad to save the money, but sorry to hear that it has effectively penalized at least one valued contributor to this group who made an early purchase.

Apr 29, 2017, 8:00pm Top

>41 NYCFaddict: At least two early purchasers :(

May 18, 2017, 1:57pm Top

Just a quick question with Oak Knoll... is there any way to see the full description of the books I purchased online? Several appear to be in poorer condition than was outlined in the description, but my invoice only seems to have the title. Much appreciated.

May 18, 2017, 5:30pm Top

I had exactly this problem two weeks ago! I bought a copy of Jonathan Wild that was supposed to come with a slipcase, but did not, to my shock. When I was looking for proof that it was meant to come slipcased, I could not find any description in my confirmation email -- and I had not taken a screenshot of the listing on the Oak Knoll website.

But I was in luck. I had come across the listing on Abe, and was able to call up the listing page from my Firefox history. Of course, it said "This copy is no longer available," as Oak Knoll would have removed the Abe listing soon after I placed the order via their site (nearly always a cheaper way to buy from them, even after factoring in any Abe coupons). But I took a screenshot of the Abe listing, with a stock number that matched the one in pencil on the book I received.

Ultimately I opted not to return the book because I'm unlikely to ever find a finer copy, but had I decided to return it within the two-week window (which can be extended if you call them to say you were on holiday or whatever) I could have emailed or printed the Abe screenshot.

I have found their customer service to be excellent, so I'm sure they will authorize a return. If the books are not as described, I should hope the return would be at their expense.

May 19, 2017, 8:07am Top

>44 NYCFaddict:
Good advice! I pretty quickly discovered the need to take a screen shot of the fullest description of the book on a seller's site - any seller, not just those on Abe. It takes next to no time, costs nothing and can save you ending up out-of-pocket.

Jun 2, 2017, 9:22am Top

Has anyone received his/her copy yet? We are in June now ...

Jun 2, 2017, 3:57pm Top

I agree, I too take a screenshot of the sellers' lisitings. A good idea indeed.

Jun 2, 2017, 5:31pm Top

>46 NYCFaddict:
I've just checked my bank account and it hasn't yet been debited for the cost, which it would have been once the book was ready for despatch.

Jun 2, 2017, 5:49pm Top

>46 NYCFaddict:

The Oak Knoll website has been updated to state that the book should be available in July.

Jun 2, 2017, 6:32pm Top

July? Hmm, okay. At least they are not rushing it!

Jul 3, 2017, 8:02am Top

Amazons UK, USA, France, Spain, Japan, Germany, Canada, India, Italy, Brazil and Mexico are now listing The Book for 31 July release, though not all of them quote a price.
Amazons Netherlands and Australia sell only Kindle books.
Amazon China does sell English language books - a box-set of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series seems to be a de rigueur accessory for the young - but a "Limited Edition" search brings up only African-American Club Hopping Coquette Cecee, who is a doll not a book (but certainly looks the cat's pajamas in her aqua-colored body suit with hot pink accessories).

Jul 7, 2017, 9:03am Top

More than 5 years after this thread was started by Don,I have just received an email from Oak Knoll informing me that my order is shipping today. The wait is nearly over.

Jul 7, 2017, 12:50pm Top

Jul 7, 2017, 2:09pm Top

Hmm, I have received no such email.

Jul 7, 2017, 11:43pm Top

Hmmm, ordered at full price when first announced, no email.

Jul 8, 2017, 12:30am Top

I ordered 4 months ago, and received an email today stating that it would be posted to Australia next week.

Jul 17, 2017, 5:57pm Top

I received this Grossman's book today. Looks very informative and well prepared. Gee, I was waiting for it for such a long time! So far no regrets.

Jul 18, 2017, 12:04pm Top

>57 skyschaker:
My credit card has been charged, but have not taken delivery yet. What do you think of the overall book design itself (given the subject matter, this is not irrelevant!)? Was it worth the rather high price?

Jul 18, 2017, 4:54pm Top

>58 UK_History_Fan: I like the book but it is clearly overpriced. Quarter cloth with paper sides, plain white end papers and so-so paper. Content looks good so far but I only received the book yesterday. The book also came with Oak Knoll's new LEC catalog for which we've all been waiting. Oak Knoll has gotten a hold on the remains of the LEC office copies, so we've got HC copies with GM, HM, GC, and RMC initials.

Jul 19, 2017, 12:19pm Top

>59 kdweber:
Well it turns out my copy was waiting for me in my receiving room when I got home last night. I agree with your assessment, completely overpriced. I give them props for making the spine design similar to the Monthly Letters collection and the LEC Bilbliography, but for the price they could/should have used 1/4 leather. I would even have been willing to pay slightly more to obtain this. The paper sides have an annoying plastic coating that reminds me of school textbooks which sadly cheapens the overall design. I won't be digging into the text until I finish a few other reading projects.

I don't regret purchasing, but I am disappointed with the book quality itself for $132.50 delivered (unfortunately I was out of the country when the discount code became available and it had expired by the time I returned so I had to pay full freight). This is especially true given how many wonderful letterpress LEC titles can still be purchased for less than half the cost of this LEC history book.

Jul 21, 2017, 9:18pm Top

I am not surprised by a high price. I cannot expect too many people buying this book. The quality is OK, as long as this is not what we expect from a letter press publication. The number of released copies is not very high, I guess, so the price reflects a need to increase the revenue.

I am reading it with interest and keep finding some interesting details that I was not aware of. No regret so far.

Sep 28, 2017, 8:31pm Top

I am not sure yet if I should purchase Grossman's book. I would like to get it if there is a lot of interesting/useful information in it about LEC, George Macy, etc. As I see in some comments here, the book seems overpriced for what it is - $125, plus shipping is a big price for a book that is not a "fine" book.
Has anyone already finished reading it? Do you feel that it was money well-spent when you got the book?
I understand that there are could be different opinions, and different readers have different needs for information, but I would still want to know how folks on this forum feel about the information that the book provides. (I have already seen a couple of comments about the book in other conversations/topics on our forum.)

Sep 29, 2017, 12:34am Top

>62 booksforreading: I finished it last night, so a few words about my first impression in a hurry since it is 5:30 am and I'm off to work.

Quite a lot of information on George Macy, the 30:s and WWII years. I still chuckle when I think about him on board that Soviet train...

Thin on the Helen Macy years and very thin on the years of captivity.

Perhaps too admiring when it comes to the Shiff years. Nothing about what happened to that talented Ben Shiff and nothing about the Shiff finances (were they in the black or in the red? Some books obviously haven't sold out in thirty years in spite of the low limitation.) I think it is difficult to write a history about this period when you are a friend of the family.

A very few factual mistakes (more on that later).

The book cost me 191 dollars shipped. I am still glad that I bought it.

Sep 29, 2017, 11:27am Top

>63 Parchments:

I think that's a bit steep, but sounds like a buy if it ever appears on the second-hand market...maybe at 50% of published price.

Sep 29, 2017, 2:22pm Top

Oak Knoll had it on sale for 25% off even before it shipped. Oak Knoll frequently has sales so you should be able to find it new for under $100 periodically. I haven't finished reading my copy but it is enjoyable and I'm glad I bought it. However, I still believe the book is over priced and I wish the physical book was of higher quality.

Sep 29, 2017, 4:52pm Top

>64 MobyRichard:
If you think that is steep, by the time it reached me in Australia I had spent US$260!

Edited: Oct 5, 2017, 1:43pm Top

>66 wcarter:

Nice...If I had to pay that much, I would elect to have my books delivered by sail (wind-power) instead.

Oct 6, 2017, 9:01am Top

Sounds like it is a book worth having and reading, but not for the list price.
I will wait for a discount or for a better second-hand offer.
Thank you all very much for your comments!

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