Limited Editions Club

A project by George Macy

In 1929, George Macy founded the Limited Editions Club, publishing finely illustrated books that were limited to 1500 copies and signed by the author or artist. He worked with artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, and photographers like Edward Weston, and was able to work with a larger budget for subscribers. Artists contracted to illustrate books were given a lot of freedom and budget, but also sometimes lost his gambles. The 1935 publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses was illustrated with line drawings by Henri Matisse, which are almost unrelated to the text.

Sometimes the publisher even turned its design focus to other parts of the book, as in the case of the 1946 edition of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and its pretty amazing spine design. Created by Clarence P. Hornung, the design captures the essence of Gibbon’s classic, showing Roman pillars progressively crumbling as your eyes move from Volume 1 to Volume 7. George later called the collection, which also features illustrations by the great 18th-century printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi, “the most herculean labor of our career.”


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