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Picturesque America

Easton Press Collectors

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Edited: Jun 29, 2012, 4:05pm Top

I received Picturesque America yesterday.

First of all, production quality is excellent. In my first examination of the two books, I could not find any flaws. The leather is perfect everywhere (including the inside corners), the text block lies perfectly flat, there are no extraneous stains or powder anywhere. Based on this volume, I would suggest that EP has solved the production issues that were plaguing the DLE line a year or so ago...

Next, the quality of the cover itself is on a par with the two History of the Crusades volumes (the boards are very thick, with large bevels at the edges). The two-color stamping on the cover (gold and black) is deeply embedded into the leather -- more so than I remember for any other DLE -- giving it a real feeling of quality. And these book are much heavier than most of the preceding DLEs (in my world, that's a good thing). The cover design appears to be an exact replica of the original edition (as depicted on the Wikipedia page for the original book).

The marbled endpapers are a bit unusual -- some may find them unattractive, I find them...distinctive.

Also, these books do not come with a slipcase -- although inserting and removing books this heavy from a slipcase would have been a challenge (again, for those of you who own the Crusades volumes -- these books are an inch or so smaller, but just as heavy!!).

The two volumes are extensively illustrated (which, of course, is the whole point of the book). Although the steel engravings are printed on slightly heavier stock and protected by translucent overlays, many of the larger wood engravings appear to be just as nice to my aging eyes (someone with youthful eyesight needs to chime in here and confirm the relative quality of the reproductions...). One Note: on the Wikipedia page for the original publication, it shows one of the engravings in full (albeit subtle) color; the Easton Press edition appears to have reproduced all engravings in black and white (I'll have to look for that illustration in particular and see how it looks...).

I cannot comment much on the book's content ... let's just say that if your idea of treasure encompasses vintage engravings of the Delaware Watergap, you will find yourself very rich indeed (I didn't actually count them, but there were at least a half-dozen views of this ). During my brief perusal, I noticed that the book refers to "Our Great National Park" -- it was then I realized that, at the date of publication, there was only one national park in the entire world (Yellowstone, duh!).

I will have to defer photos for the time being...hopefully someone else can post pictures of their copies that you're not all waiting on me...(I keep spending money on more DLEs, when I could be fixing my camera...priorities, priorities)

At any rate, if these books sound at all intriguing to you...jump!! This set was very nicely realized. If you are reading this, EP -- you did a Great Job on this one!!

Now, I can't help but wonder if a three-volume Picturesque Europe is in the works (hint, hint).

Jun 29, 2012, 5:55pm Top

I've been on the fence about this one. Your description has me -- almost -- ready to order, but i would love to see some photos. As for Picturesque Europe ... I'd be all over that one.

Jun 29, 2012, 7:16pm Top

>1 SilentInAWay:: Dammit, Silent!! Now I wonder if I should get this (I hadn't been tempted until now). Although if you can confirm that the engravings are indeed black and white, that might decide it for me, as I would prefer color reproductions.

Jul 4, 2012, 10:30am Top

>1 SilentInAWay:

Did they solve the wavy paper and dimpling issue ? like what you can often find in those cheap paperback from china.

Jul 4, 2012, 1:40pm Top

>4 kafkachen: Absolutely. There's none of the problem with the warped text block that we were seeing with London. In Picturesque America, the pages are nice and flat.

>3 iluvbeckett: Sorry, luvb -- the illustrations are indeed all black and white. Fortunately (and unlike many of the other cases where EP has downgraded multi-color illustrations to monochrome), these pictures do not rely on color for their effect -- or (at a minimum) stand on their own without color. It's as if, in designing and executing these engravings, the original artists didn't know that they would be hand-colored prior to publication.

I'm torn on this. Although part of me wants to say "Shame on you Easton Press for once again giving us an inferior reproduction," it feels wrong (in this particular case) to offer anything but praise for this volume. Discovering on-line that the original illustrations had been hand-colored was a little disappointing... until I took another look at my copies of the books.

I don't know -- and maybe it's just my love for Hogarth and Doré speaking here (plus the fact that I've only just begun paying for these expensive books!!) -- but these engravings somehow feel right in B&W. As long-time members of this group know, I'm not shy about pointing out cases where EP has published inferior reproductions of another publisher's editions (cough...cough...LEC!!). I can confidently say, however, that this is not one of these cases.

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