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“Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” Illustrated by Amos Stack

May 22, 2022

A couple of years ago, we posted an article by Joe Howard on an unuusal presentation of Rubaiyat verses in the form of An Omarian Alphabet – see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/an-omarian-alphabet/. This book was created in 1935 by an American Clarke W Walton, and, in his earlier article, Joe promised us more information about other Rubaiyat works by this publisher. Joe has now tracked down a Walton edition of the verses illustrated by Amos Stack, and he tell us more about this copy below. Our thanks to Joe for giving us a further instalment of the Clarke Walton story.

The fifteen editions of the Rubaiyat1 published by the amateur printer and publisher Clarke W Walton were issued in very limited numbers and are not readily available either for purchase or, as far as I am aware, as on-line digital copies.

One of them, the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” (Coumans 74), published in 1934, includes five illustrations by Amos Stack. The text is Fitzgerald’s fifth version with all 101 quatrains. This book is quarter bound, with brown boards (5.25 by 7.5 ins.) and the title on the front in black: there are 44 numbered pages.  The five illustrations are shown below (Fig. 1.).

It appears to me that Amos has taken his inspiration for the male costumes from Edmund J Sullivan. The illustration for quatrain 1 (the frontispiece), includes a silhouette, which is quite different from the other four. These illustrations are straightforward interpretations of parts of the relevant quatrains. For example, the image for quatrain 1 combines the themes of awakening and sunrise, while that for quatrain 7, charming though it is, and while representing the quoted half line, brings to my mind a rather convivial “afternoon tea”, with no indications of the interpretations often associated with the remaining three and a half lines.

Internet searches did not yield information on an artist or illustrator with a name including both “Amos” and “Stack”. In many ways this is unsurprising. Clarke had extremely close ties with his community at Monroe, North Carolina. These included involving them in his publication and printing work. For example, Clark published (Coumans 255) “Illustrations for an Omar” containing photographs taken by Walter C Sprouse. Walter was well-known professional photographer and a resident of Monroe NC. Also, in my previous article1 I noted that the 24 quatrains of his “Omarian Alphabet” were imperfectly typeset by three individuals identified only by their initials. A magazine2, “The Bookmark” edited and published by Clarke, includes an article describing the “Omarian Alphabet”, Here it states, “The book is set and printed by schoolboys, each boy having printed his initials inconspicuously in small type on his pages.” One of these schoolboys was his son (Clarence Wilson Walton: CWW II). Clarke’s children and their friends regularly used his press to publish their own newspapers and notices.

Searches of the 1930 and 1940 census records yield two people in Monroe NC with names including “Amos” and “Stack”: one was an elderly judge, the other, much younger, a “cotton buyer”. In the local newspaper the cotton buyer is routinely referred to simply as “Amos Stack”, while the judge is referred to more formally. Since Clarke occupied a senior position in the local cotton mill, I suggest that this cotton buyer is the amateur Rubaiyat artist. Amos Milton Stack (1894-1981) moved to Monroe in 1922 and remained there until he died.

“About it and About”

The contents page of the Rubaiyat includes sections titled “About it and About” (p. 32-36) and “Index” (p. 37-44). Clarke was the author of both. In the first (dated September 22, 1934), he explains that he wanted to produce a Rubaiyat on his own press but that he was slow at setting type and was usually disappointed with his efforts to produce a creditable piece of printing. He therefore decided to have the work published under “another imprint”: the printer was “The Monroe Enquirer”, the town newspaper. Clarke then discusses the backgrounds and contents of the five Fitzgerald editions and provides useful information about how to identify each. While discussing the Fifth Version, Clarke states his opinion that Fitzgerald’s revisions are “…so few and minor, one may be led to believe that Fitzgerald considered it about as he wished to leave it. I am therefore using the Fifth Version in this present edition.”

Referring to the 8-page, double-column “Index” Clarke explains “I have endeavored to list some of the outstanding lines and passages, and all the capitalized words that appear in the body of sentences. The figures given in the index refer to quatrains.”

Clark completes this contribution with a list of 19 prior editions of the Rubaiyat.

A second publication

 In the November 1934 edition2 of“The Bookmark”, Clarke gave notice, without explanation, of a one-off price increase, from the usual 5¢ to 40¢, for the December issue and explained that it would be available only to regular subscribers-not distributed through the Mailing Bureaus of the Amateur Press Association.

For this December3 issue, in addition to four pages of the regular contents, he inserted without changes the entire Rubaiyat containing Amos Stack’s illustrations. The lower part of Amos Stack’s illustration of quatrain 7 is on the front cover of the magazine (Fig. 1.). It appears that the book and magazine editions of this Rubaiyat were published within, at most, 2-3 months of one another.

References

  1. https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/an-omarian-alphabet/
  2. The Bookmark, Pack III. No.7 April 1935, Edited and Published by Clarke W Walton.
  3. The Bookmark, Pack III. No.3 December 1934, Edited and Published by Clarke W Walton.

This is the day to celebrate the birth of Omar Khayyam

May 18, 2022
The statue of Khayyam in United Nations Office in Vienna as a part of Persian Scholars Pavilion 

18th May 1048 is generally accepted as the birth date of Omar Khayyam, the famous Persian astronomer, mathematician and philosopher. The verses that inspired Edward FitzGerald to create his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam have long been attributed to this historical Khayyam, though there is no very strong evidence to support this. Be that as it may, today is a good time to celebrate the existence of the Persian quatrains and the richness that their exploitation by many writers and artists has brought us over the years. We hope you with join us in raising a glass of something appropriate to toast the poetry of ‘Omar Khayyam’.

It is notable also that the Iranians choose to mark today as the National Day of Omar Khayyam. A Press Release this morning from the Mehr News Agency highlights the event, and provides an interesting write up of Omar Khayyam from the Iranian viewpoint, which is well worth reading. The post also contains some unusual images relating to Khayyam, some of which are new to us. They include the one shown above. The full Press Release can be accessed on https://en.mehrnews.com/news/186857/Iran-marks-National-Day-of-Omar-Khayyam

Now we are ten!

April 17, 2022

On 17th April 2012, we uploaded the first post on this OmarKhayyamRubaiyat blog. The post was headed Calling all lovers of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and in it we stated that “… we are aiming to use this blog to help everyone keep up to date with new happenings relating to the Rubaiyat – books, art works, exhibitions, lectures, research, and much more.  The year 2009 was a seminal point for Rubaiyat lovers, with so many happenings that marked the two anniversaries in that year.  But more has happened since.  And it would be great if we could create on on-going Rubaiyat community to which everyone can communicate their knowledge and thoughts.”

Ten years on seems a good point at which to look back to see what we have and have not achieved against the background of these aims. We are still ‘in business’, which is perhaps something, and we now have some 200 regular followers of the blog. In recent years, there have been 30-50 posts annually, and between 4000 and 7000 visitors each year. So there is clearly still interest in Khayyam, FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat, and the blog has been something of a focus for this interest and for putting people in touch with others who share their preoccupations.

To speak for ourselves, we have definitely benefited from the existence of the blog and we greatly value the new contacts and friends that we have made worldwide among other lovers of the Rubaiyat. We have been amazed by the variety and the enthusiasm of people who have been in touch through the blog and the range of subjects on which they have been able to contribute material for posts. As webmasters, we are enormously grateful to all our contributors, whether regular or one-off, who have allowed us to published their material on the blog. Without all of you, the blog would almost certainly not exist today, and it would undoubtedly be much less interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your research and findings with all of us.

Through the work of our contributors, the blog has been able to add significantly to knowledge about a wide variety of Rubaiyat related subjects. These range from identifying previously unknown editions of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, and documenting the life and work of many Rubaiyat artists, to detailed discussions of the interpretation of particular verses and concepts in the poem, and much more. Through general calls for information, researchers have been able to share their data with others and to work co-operatively – how did we ever do this before the advent of the internet? It has also been possible to alert a much wider audience to interesting events such as readings of the Rubaiyat, films, exhibitions and performances of dance and music inspired by the verse.

Today we look forward to what the years ahead may bring. We hope that the blog will continue to provide a useful service to readers and researchers. Contributions on any Rubaiyat related subjects are always welcome and our aim will still be to widen the Rubaiyat loving community and to bring the great work of Khayyam, FitzGerald and others to an ever larger audience.

Victor Bridges and Edward FitzGerald – a call for information

April 4, 2022
Source: Hilobrow

We have received an inquiry via Charles Mugleston about Victor Bridges and his links with Edward FitzGerald and Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK. A retired American professor is writing a book about Bridges and is planning to visit Woodbridge in the summer in search of further information. Apparently Bridges was, interalia, the author of a book entitled Edward Fitzgerald [sic] and other verses, published by Hodder and Stoughton in London in 1932.

We confess to never having heard of Victor Bridges before, but that invaluable source, Wikipedia, describes him as follows. ‘Victor Bridges (real name Victor George de Freyne, 14 March 1878 – 29 November 1972) was a prolific English author of detective and fantasy fiction, and also a playwright and occasional poet.’ Neither we nor Charles have a copy of his FitzGerald poems in our libraries, but we wonder whether other readers of the blog are better informed? We know from WorldCat that there are copies of the book in the British Library, Oxford University, and the national Libraries of Wales and Scotland. If you have a copy of the book, or know more about Victor Bridges and his association with FitzGerald and/or Woodbridge, do please share your knowledge, initially in the form of a comment below. This can then be passed on to Charles and the scholar who is researching Bridges. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

March 31st is an auspicious date for Rubaiyat lovers

March 31, 2022

On March 31st, two very important things happened. On this day in the year 1809, Edward FitzGerald was born, and on the same day in 1859, the first edition of his great work, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, was published. So today is a day on which all of us who value the Rubaiyat should pause and be thankful for the existence and work of a great literary figure from Suffolk in the east of England. Please join us in raising a glass to the memory of Edward FitzGerald and all he gave us those many years ago. In this present year of much confusion, the words of Khayyam, as interpreted by FitzGerald, are as usual very apposite (F1 Q30).

What, without asking, hither hurried whence?

And, without asking, whither hurried hence !

Another and another Cup to drown

The Memory of this Impertinence !

Greetings for Nowruz – and some Persian treasures

March 20, 2022

To all our readers we send greetings for Nowruz, the Persian New year which begins today. This brings with it a time of celebration when families and friends get together and mark the happy arrival of Spring with all its promise and hope. Sadly, for our friends in Ukraine and the surrounding areas, the present is very different and we are all concerned about what the next few months will bring. Let us strive to see that a sense of humanity prevails, so that Spring can come to all in that area as well.

Bahram Gur in the Green Pavilion

Charles Mugleston has sent the blog a Nowruz gift in the form of a link to details of the treasures of the Loewi Collection of Persian Miniatures. Christies, the auctioneers, have this collection for sale on 31st March 2022. To quote from their write up:

‘The Paul Richard Loewi Collection, complemented by a group of works acquired by his daughter Erica in the 1960s and 1970s, showcases some of the greatest achievements in Persian painting. … At the heart of the collection are two illustrated folios from a magnificent royal copy of the Shahnama, or ‘Book of Kings’, which has been dated to the reign of the third Safavid king, Shah Ismail II (r.1576-77).’

The link to details of the collection is as follows

https://www.christies.com/features/Persian-Miniatures-12133-7.aspx?sc_lang=en&cid=EM_EMLcontent04144C00Section_A_Story_4_0&COSID=42873161&cid=DM475415&bid=303343264

There is no sign of any work by Omar Khayyam in the collection. But we urge readers to have a look anyway. The paintings are magnificent examples of the richness and beauty that Persian art has given to us all. Even if the prices are beyond the budget of most of us, a few minute of study give a valuable reminder of positive human achievements to set against the turmoil and horrors of today’s world. Thank you, Charles, for this gift.

Artists of the Omar Khayyam Club of London from 1892-1929: The eBook Edition

February 24, 2022

Several years ago, Danton O’Day produced an interesting study of the artists who worked on the menus of the Omar Khayyam Club of London from its foundation in 1892 up to 1929. Details of this book were given in an earlier post https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/artists-of-the-omar-khayyam-club-of-london/. Danton has now sent us information about a new ebook edition of this publication.

Artists of the Omar Khayyam Club of London from 1892-1929:

The eBook Edition

Danton H. O’Day

Read about a cartoonist, a spy, the man who developed camouflage and others who illustrated The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, one of the most popular poems in history. It also is one of the most illustrated collection of verses of all time. At the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, Edward FitzGerald’s translation of Omar’s four-line verses was a world-wide phenomenon that reached cult status. Many clubs and organizations were formed to study and to celebrate the poetry, its poet and translator. This ebook documents the 28 menu artists of the Omar Khayyam Club of London from 1892-1929, a club that still exists. This is the first time all the artist’s pictures have been presented in ebook format. In addition to presenting all the artwork, the book reveals many discoveries about incorrect artist credits, an unidentified artist and errors in lists and timelines.

Available in multiple ebook formats

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940165782077
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781005103088
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1609682112
Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Artists-Omar-Khayyam-Club-London-ebook/dp/B09RW5RHPC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1B9WBB7D6WQIR&keywords=Artists+of+the+Omar+Khayyam+Club&qid=1645373006&s=books&sprefix=artists+of+the+omar+khayyam+club%2Cstripbooks%2C69&sr=1-1
Gardners: https://www.gardners.com/Search/KeywordAnonymous/eBook?Keyword=9781005103088
Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781005103088&language=0
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1131474

Also Available in Print: AbeBooks, Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, and more

Willy Pogany and the Rubaiyat of 1942

February 18, 2022
Pogany 1942 (Quatrain 3, FitzGerald 4th ed)

Willy Pogany (1882-1955) is one of the best known of the illustrators of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and also one of the most frequently published, with copies of his work being republished right throughout the twentieth century. He actually produced three separate portfolios of illustrations for the poem, which were first published in 1909, 1930 and 1942 respectively. Of these three, the last is quite remarkably different in style and content, and many researchers have been curious about the reasons for the changes and the place of the 1942 illustrations in Pogany’s work generally.

Bob Forrest has been studying this question and has provided important insights into the pattern of development of Pogany’s work on the Rubaiyat. In setting out the results of his investigation, Bob shows that the 1942 portfolio has links with other work being carried out by the artist, especially in the 1930’s and ’40’s, and possibly with that of other artists working in the field. He also clarifies the dating of some of the many reissues of Pogany’s work in this period.

The full presentation of Bob’s research is in an article on his web site, see http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Willy_Pogany/Willy_Pogany.htm. It contains many images of Pogany’s varied work, with interpretations, and it is well worth reading. Once again, our thanks to Bob for sharing the results of his investigations.

Harry B. Matthews: Book Designer, Illustrator, Decorator of the Rubaiyat

February 8, 2022

Joseph Howard has been investigating the work of a Rubaiyat artist previously only known by his initials HBM. In what follows, Joe identifies the name behind these initials and also provides much information on the artist’s work on the Rubaiyat and that of the publisher with whom he worked. Our thanks to Joe for sharing his research with us all. If any readers can fill in the remaining gaps in this story, particularly relating to the life of HBM about which little is still known, please comment below.

A previously unidentified decorator

In his informative book about early decorated editions of the Rubaiyat1, Danton O’Day includes the work of an artist identified only by his distinctively conjoined initials, “HBM”. These initials occur on every decorated page of a Rubaiyat published by H. M. Caldwell & Co. (New York and Boston) and marked “Copyright 1900”. Except for its size (5½x6¾ in.), this book matches the limited description of item 244 in Potter’s bibliography: Potter describes a book “9×6½ in.” with “…text in olive green dec. borders of var. designs”. However, he makes no reference to the initials HBM, nor does he comment on the binding or the endpapers. The image shown in Fig.1 is from my copy (identical to Danton’s). There are eight different decorative designs presented as mirror-image pairs on facing pages. These eight designs repeat, in sets, throughout the book, which has flexible green leather covers and endpapers containing a picture of classical ruins.

The initials “HBM” are those of Harry B. Matthews, an arts-and-crafts book designer, illustrator and author, whose work was regularly published between ca. 1900 and 1915. Evidence for this attribution is:

  • In several, non-Rubaiyat, books2 Matthews is specifically named as the illustrator/designer and his characteristic initials are included with his illustrations/designs.
  • In some books3 he extends his initials to include his full family name (Fig.2 centre and right)
  • Reference works on artist/author monograms4 assign the distinctive HBM monogram to him.

Matthews designed the front boards of many hardback books, usually with his initials impressed into their surfaces (Fig.2 left and centre). He also illustrated the works3 of other authors (Fig.2 right) or decorated their text pages with borders/frames5. In addition, he was both author and illustrator/decorator of several books. For example, in 1907, at a time when young women were attending college in increasing numbers and scrapbooks/memory books were popular, Matthews designed and illustrated6 “Alma Mater Days”. This beautifully designed and bound “memory book” includes thoughtfully designed pictorial section-headings intended to guide students with the organization of their memories.  Matthews also wrote, designed and illustrated7, a large (10×12 in.) and brightly coloured children’s book titled “Happy Day Fair” Notably, the Rubaiyat is not listed as one of his publications in any of the online sources I searched.

H. M. Caldwell & Co., Publishers

H.M. Caldwell & Co. (Caldwell) operated between 1896 and 1914.  The Company published many series of books with each individual series having some uniformity in format and style. Some of these have obvious themes (The Belgravia Series of Art Monographs, The Great Galleries Series etc.) while others are less obvious (Overton Series, Sesame Series etc.). Books were commonly featured in more than one series and many series lasted just 2-3 years. The series name is often not printed in the matching publications, though I have seen them printed on the accompanying boxes: now frequently missing.  Within a series, the physical appearance (dimensions, binding) could vary over time. These practices, when combined with the inclusion of printed copyright dates, rather than publishing dates, in the texts, create problems in determining exact publication histories. Searches of advertisements and annual catalogs can facilitate the assignment of books to their relevant series and provide insights into publication dates.

An advertisement by Caldwell in The Publishers Weekly8 is headed “Preliminary Fall Announcement 1909” and contains the entry “ALEXANDRIAN SERIES Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam etc. Ten titles. Cloth $1.00: limp leather $1.50”.

A later (also 1909) advertisement9 in the same publication provides much more detail:

 “THE ALEXANDRAN SERIES: A choice and selected list of classic poetry and prose. Printed on antique wove paper, deckle edge with original border designs and illuminated title-pages by Matthews, photogravure frontispieces. End-pieces by BARON von PALM.

  Bound in dark green T cloth. Cover design and titles in gold, gilt tops. Size 5½ X 6¾ inches. In a box matching binding. Price each $1.00. Deep green paste grain leather, cover design in gold, git top, boxed. Price $1.50.”

This advertisement also includes a photograph (B&W) of a sample cover of this Alexandrian Series. The description and photograph (except for the specific title) match, in all respects, the book shown in Fig.1. The advertisements confirm the assignment of the borders to Matthews but adds the information that he designed the unsigned frame on the title page (see Fig.4 below). It also provides the name of the artist whose work is used for the endpapers. The photogravure frontispiece is found in our copies and is the well-known image by “AD Marcel”. The book shown in Fig.1 is clearly from the Alexandrian Series.

A 1910 advertisement repeats the details of the binding options for the Alexandrian Series but adds the words “Fraternity Edition $1.50.” The corresponding advertisement for 1911 mentions only the “Fraternity Edition of the Alexandrian Series.” It is therefore likely that the copies described above (copyright 1900) were published in 1909 and possibly 1910.

A second set of decorations by Matthews

I own two additional Rubaiyats, each also marked “Copyright 1900” and published by H. M. Caldwell (New York and Boston) which are larger (8½x6 in.) than the copies described above. However, their contents and pagination are also identical to that described in Potter 244. Of particular interest is that they contain an entirely different set of decorations by Matthews (Fig.3). These decorations (yellowish in one copy and brownish in the other), form frames for the text. Once again there are eight different designs cycling through the books. Here, the positioning of the initials HBM is inconsistent: they can be found at varied locations inside and outside the frames and are omitted from some pages.  

In these two hardback books Matthews’s decorations are extended to the title pages (Fig.4b), whereas in the Alexandrian Series copy, Matthews provided a simpler design (Fig.4a). These decorations by Matthews add considerably to the charm of these editions, however, the inclusion of a complete frame on text-free pages creates the unfortunate impression that something is missing (Fig.4c). This is not the case with the simpler decorations.

These two books have very distinctive covers (Fig.5) and identical endpapers dappled in purple and white. The copy with the purple/flowery cover exhibits the usual shimmering (moiré) effects associated with the rounded triangular prism-like structure of silk threads. The second copy has gilded blue boards with a cameo at the centre. This cameo is mounted on rectangular, cream-coloured, card that is embossed in a repeated herringbone pattern with added gilded and “jeweled” ellipses.

These copies can be assigned to the appropriate Caldwell Series and to their likely publication dates by building on the results of extensive work completed10 in support of “The Lucile Project”. This project aims to detail the complete publication history, estimated at 2000+ volumes, of the book “Lucile” authored by Owen Meredith (who gave his one and only public speech at a dinner of the Omar Khayyam Club of London in 1895). In support of the Lucile project, extensive work has been done on many Caldwell series. Using this information, we can assign both books to the “Ariston-Dilettante Series” with publication dates in the range 1908-1911.

Concluding remarks

Matthews decorated many other books for Caldwell, including some entire series.

While researching this work, I’ve seen further evidence that Potter’s listings (243 and 244) of Caldwell editions of the Rubaiyat are incomplete. For example, some pre-1900 editions are not mentioned. If someone has already done the work to generate a more comprehensive analysis of the Caldwell editions, I would very much welcome it being shared. If not, I will complete the research I’ve started and share it via this blog. Please comment below.

Lately I came across a blog curated by Sarah Sunday11 which is a useful source of images of some Rubaiyat editions from Caldwell and other publishers. Additional photographs (cover, endpapers, frontispiece etc.) of the Alexandrian series Rubaiyat are provided there.

I express my sincere thanks to Roger Paas and Danton O’Day for fruitful discussions and assistance with the assignment of individual volumes to specific Series.

References

  1. The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art 1884-1913 III, The Decorators, Danton H. O’Day, Blurb New Edition, 2021
  2. Cupid’s Middleman, Edward B. Lent, Cupples & Leon, New York, 1906 
  3. The Love That Prevailed, Frank F. Moore, illustrated by Harry B. Matthews, New York Empire Book Company Pub., 1907;
  4.   https://www.browsersbookstore.com/2019/07/publishers-bindings-book-designer-monograms-initials/
  5. The Players of London, Louise Beecher Chancellor, B.W. Dodge & Co., New York, 1909. His work with frames/borders
  6. Alma Mater Days, H. B. Matthews, G.W Dillingham Co., New York, 1907
  7. Happy Day Fair, H. B. Matthews, McLoughlin Bros. Pubs., New York, 1908
  8. The Publishers’ Weekly,Aug. 28, 1909, p.452
  9. The Publishers’ Weekly, Sept. 25, 1909, p.880
  10. http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/lucile/publishers/caldwell/caldwelleds.htm; and the section with list of series dates http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/lucile/publishers/caldwell/caldwell.htm
  11. https://www.therubaiyatofomarkhayyam.com/editions-by-publisher/