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Victor Roland Anderson Illustrates the Rubaiyat

September 16, 2019

Danton O’Day has sent us information about a new facsimile edition of a version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat illustrated and decorated by Victor Anderson, which was originally produced in 1934 – for more details of the original version see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2019/04/20/victor-roland-anderson-a-rubaiyat-of-omar-khayyam-artist-1934/.

DoD victoranderson0919

Victor Roland Anderson Illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
by Moira Anderson Allen and Danton H. O’Day, 2019.
ISBN 978-0-46-425914-5; 36 pages, colour
Available soon at online bookstores worldwide including Abe books, Barnes & Noble, etc. Details of prices etc to follow.

An earlier blog post to this site (see link above) introduced the work of Victor Roland Anderson, an American artist who illustrated and decorated pages of the first version of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat. Anderson’s original work was done on elephant-folio size sheets of parchment that now have been scanned to produce an 8”x10” softcover book for all to enjoy.

Moira Anderson Allen, the granddaughter of Victor collaborated with Danton O’Day in the production of this book to ensure it would meet the standards of the artist’s work. After a short introduction to the artist, Victor Anderson’s beautifully designed pages are presented in full.  This is a visually appealing book that is a pleasure to read and it will be a welcome addition to any Rubaiyat collection.

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A contemporary review of Cecil G Trew’s ‘Reveries of Omar Khayyam’

September 13, 2019

In the previous post, Joe Howard mentions a contemporary newspaper article about Cecil G Trew’s  illustrated version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat which appeared in 1929 under the title of ‘Reveries of Omar Khayyam’.  He has provided a copy of this article which was published in the Los Angeles Times of May 5th 1929, and it is reproduced below.  It provides an interesting view of attitudes to the Rubaiyat at that time, as well as much information about the publication plans for the work, which Joe has commented on above.

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Cecil G.Trew’s “Reveries…”: the continuing story.

September 13, 2019

The version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, illustrated by Cecil G Trew and published  in 1929, has been the subject of several earlier posts – see  https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/a-valuable-write-up-on-cecil-g-trew-and-her-rubaiyat-illustrations/ and previous.  Joe Howard has sent us some more comments on the different forms in which this work was published.  Our thanks to Joe for sharing this.

I recently came across both a previously unreported version of C. G. Trew’s “Reveries of Omar” and a contemporary (1929) newspaper article1 describing the plans for publication of the “Reveries…”. Taken in conjunction, these documents shine new light on the publishing history of Trew’s work. They also raise additional questions.

The newspaper article1 explains that there are 25 drawings by Trew in the series. This number has previously been the subject of some uncertainty2. As its conclusion the article also states: “The sets, which are published in three editions, under the title “Reveries of Omar,” two of them de luxe and a third popular, will be placed on the market through the regular book-selling channels. The de luxe sets will sell at $250 and $100, the popular edition at $35 and $25. Individual prints will also be placed on the market”. As a comparison point for these high prices, a Chevrolet Roadster cost $525 in 1929.

Bob Forrest’s comprehensive article2 about Trew and her “Reveries…” contains a great deal of information which underpins this report. Specifically, it describes two editions. One is in the form of a loose-leaf portfolio with paper boards (this has many variants) and the second is bound in book form with velvet over paper boards (ref. 2; Fig 46 and note 4b).

Leather Portfolio Edition

JH trew0919 fig1

Fig. 1.  “Reveries of Omar Khayyam” with decorated leather portfolio cover (Artist Proof # 366) 

While researching auction records, I located two copies of an additional version of the “Reveries…” (Artist Proofs #366 and #372) which have identical decorative, debossed and coloured- leather portfolio covers (Fig.1.) These are described as “arts and crafts style”. The covers are flexible (without paper boards) and have leather lacing around their edges. I suggest that these are examples of the expensive deluxe editions and that purchasers had the option of personalizing them, in matching font, on the lower front.

Velvet/Suede Bound Edition

With just one reported copy2 of this bound form (Roger Paas), it was unclear to me whether this is as-issued, or is a loose portfolio copy that has been rebound. I now own a bound copy (Fig.2. left) that is identical to Roger’s, except that mine has been personalized with a small debossed name on the front cover. I describe the board covering as suede, a description supported by details on other bound volumes issued by the same publisher- see below. I suggest that these two bound volumes are examples of the lower-cost deluxe edition.

JH trew0919 fig2

Fig. 2. Suede-covered, bound versions of Trew’s Kaloprint portfolios: left is “Reveries of Omar” (Artist Proof #424) and right is “The Franklin Letter”.

I located two other (non-Rubaiyat) bound books of Kaloprints by Trew. These are bound like Fig. 2. left and are copies of numbered limited editions of 1000. The first (Artist Proof #274), is published by Danby’s and has “The Franklin Letter” stamped on the cover (Fig. 2. right). The owner states that it is actually a copy of “Choosing a Woman” and claims that this later title was used on the cover of the trade edition. A second copy of “The Franklin Letter“ (Artist Proof #117) is bound in red suede and published by The Kaloprint Corporation. It is bound identically to those in Fig. 2.

A third bound book of Kaloprints, titled “The Romance of El Camino Real” (Limited edition #251S of 1000), is of interest.  This is not illustrated by Trew but is bound identically to the suede copies above. A second copy of this book (Copy # XLIV) differs only in having the title “The King’s Highway” on the front cover. This trend of having the cover title different from that on the title page was described by Bob Forrest2 and remains puzzling. I wonder if a translation of the title on the front cover (Fig. 2. left) of the bound “Reveries…”, would reveal the same phenomenon? [Our reading of the Persian script is that it says ‘Rubaiyat of Hakim Omar Khayyam’.  eds.]

From the accumulated evidence, it appears that the suede binding with debossed title and dedicated name on the front, are features of the publisher’s house style, as is the unusually high number, 1000, chosen for Artist Proof sets i.e. these were not choices made by the artist. It is well recognized3 that the term “artist’s proof” is often used (misused?) in several different contexts.

Paper Boards Edition(s)

The “Reveries…” portfolios with paper boards are relatively more common, though still rare. This, and the use of the simpler paper board cover indicate they are a trade edition. I have not identified what differentiates the proposed two variants of the trade editions, however it may be that the publishers never executed their full marketing plan. Copies2 of Trew’s portfolio with a different title, “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”, but containing the same prints as the “Reveries…” version, do indicate that the initial plans were modified.

Other Issues

Trew was a prolific author and illustrator2 and advertisements for her many books can be readily found in searches of old newspapers. I’m surprised, therefore, to have not found a newspaper advertisement for her “Reveries…”. Note that the 1929 newspaper article1 explains “…they will be placed on the market through the regular book selling channels.” It is possible that the stock market crash, which occurred just 5 months after the newspaper article was published, influenced the marketing plans.

An obvious question is: What differentiating features of the expensive deluxe editions would justify the proposed prices? The elaborate and customized leather portfolio covers, for example, are very nice, but they alone simply cannot explain such a huge price differential over the trade edition(s). I have not handled the decorated leather versions, but the trade and lower-price deluxe versions have Kaloprints of the same size and quality and are printed and mounted in the same way on the same quality paper.

I had anticipated that one distinguishing feature of the more expensive editions would be their having original signatures accompanying each print. This practice is customary in the art-print market. This expectation is confounded because the decorative leather (deluxe) portfolio #372 is reported as having “stamped signatures”. My bound copy of the “Reveries…” also has printed signatures and yet the loose-leaf portfolio copy (# 274) with paper boards, has original (pencil) signatures. My loose-leaf portfolio version of the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” has paper boards and lacks any Artists Proof designation or number – yet it has original signatures. So, no obvious pattern here!

The Kaloprints that I have seen have another surprising feature. The “framing” of each tipped-in print consists of hand-drawn pencil-lines. Rectangular prints have three lines (top and two sides). Some of these lines are roughly drawn with variations in line thickness and line density. The circular illustrations are surrounded by a pencil circle. On those that I have handled, the point where the circle is closed is obvious. It seems hardly credible that someone took the time to draw all these lines rather than print them-especially as the quatrains themselves are printed on the same page below the tipped-in illustrations.

If anyone has seen different versions or has other additional information, I would be grateful to receive details.  [Please comment below, or send a message via us, on sandrabill@omarkhayyamrubaiyat.com.]

References

  1. Drawings Interpret Quatrains Of Rubaiyat”, Los Angeles Times, May 5th 1929 [see next post]
  2. http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Cecil_G_Trew/Cecil_G_Trew.htm
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist%27s_proof

More information about ‘A Fanciful Picture …’

September 10, 2019

In response to the previous post about George Morrow’s drawing of an imaginary dinner of the Omar Khayyam Club of London, Bob Forrest has sent us some more information about the history of the drawing.

Bob tells us that this cartoon of an Omar Khayyam Society dinner appeared in published form in ‘The Artist’ magazine in May 1944.  The image he sent us, reproduced  below, shows that the cartoon is included with an article by George Morrow on the various stages of producing a humorous drawing.  There is no specific mention of the cartoon in the text shown, but it was presumably seen as a good example of the technical points highlighted by Morrow.

RF George Morrow - OK Soc Dinner

One interesting point is the note at the bottom of the illustration that it has been ‘Reproduced by courtesy of ‘Punch’ ‘.  Joe Howard indicated in his article that Morrow worked for ‘Punch’ for many years, and it appears that this drawing must at some stage have been published in the magazine.  Bob has not yet been able to find any details about this.  If any readers are able to access the relevant records and do a search, please let us know the result in a comment.

Another point that has struck us about the Morrow cartoon is that it shows a series of couples seated around the table.  As far as we know, the Omar Khayyam Club of London has never had female members, though it does occasionally have Ladies’ evenings.  But even these are unlike to produce the unvaried formation of couples shown in the drawing.  It is definitely a ‘fanciful’ view of such an event.

A Fanciful Picture of the Annual Dinner of the Omar Khayyam Society

September 9, 2019

Joe Howard has sent us an interesting contribution about a drawing done by the cartoonist and book illustrator George Morrow.

The pen and ink drawing shown below is by the well-known cartoonist and book illustrator, George Morrow (1870-1955). The caption states “ENTERTAINMENTS AT WHICH WE HAVE NEVER ASSISTED. Fanciful Picture of the Annual Dinner of the Omar Khayyam Society.”  The drawing has been dated to the 1930’s, but I have not seen any evidence supporting this.

JH Image 1 Morrow cartoon from Punch page without page details

Morrow had a long association with Punch and eventually joined its staff in 1924; serving as art editor from 1932 to 1937. He is credited with 2704 cartoons, the last of which appeared in Punch a month before he died, aged 85. 

Morrow gave the above drawing to Kenneth Bird CBE in 1951 with the request that “…he pass it on for presentation to the Club”. Bird recorded Morrow’s gift in a letter dated 10/4/1951. It was handwritten on Punch notepaper, and addressed to the OK Club president, R. Lawrence Marsh.

At the time, Bird was a member, and past president, of the OK Club of London and the editor of Punch. He was also an accomplished cartoonist who first submitted a cartoon to Punch in 1916. In fact, Bird succeeded Morrow as art editor of Punch in 1937 and gained fame during WW11 for his propaganda posters, notably those on the theme “Careless talk costs lives”.  This work earned him his CBE. Bird’s successor as editor of Punch was Malcolm Muggeridge, who was a guest at the OK Club dinner at Kettner’s on 20/11/1952.

The picture’s caption implies that Morrow had not attended a club dinner, at least up to the date he drew it. Morrow is not listed in The Second Book of the Omar Khayyam Club 1910-1929 and I have searched the rather limited number of OK Club dinner menus I have available (for 1930-1951), and do not see him listed. Although Bird mentions a connection between the drawing and Punch, I have been unsuccessful in deciphering his handwriting to determine the nature of that relationship. My search of an on-line database of cartoons published in Punch does not yield any hits for the picture shown.

If any reader knows more about the origins and history of this drawing, or about any links between Morrow and the Omar Khayyam Club of London, please comment below.  Our thanks to Joe for sharing his findings. 

 

What to do with an important Rubaiyat collection?

September 4, 2019

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the sad death earlier this year of Douglas Taylor, who was a major collector of editions of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and related material – see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/sad-news-of-death-of-douglas-taylor-on-27th-may-2019/.  Douglas’ family are now considering their options for the disposal of Douglas’ collection of books and related research material which he gathered for his Rubaiyat studies.

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A small part of the collection

One option would be the disposal of the collection to an academic library or other institution.  The family are exploring this possibility and they would welcome any suggestions about possible organisations that might be interested in such an acquisition.  If any readers, particularly those in the United States, have any ideas about and/or contacts with such institutions, the family would be grateful to hear from them.  Please send your comments in the first instance to us on sandrabill@omarkhayyamrubaiyat.com and we shall pass them on to Douglas’ family.  Thanks in advance for your help.

 

 

Now available – a write up on E Joyce Francis, an illustrator of the Rubaiyat

August 23, 2019
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Joyce Francis (right)

In an earlier post, we commented on the lack of information available about Joyce Francis who illustrated a copy of the Rubaiyat published by Ebenezer Baylis and Son in 1934 – see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/fine-edition-of-rubaiyat-decorated-by-joyce-francis/.  In an initial response, Bob Forrest proved some data about the artist and her work, including her life span of 80 years from 1904 to 1985 – see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/more-information-on-rubaiyat-artist-joyce-francis/.

Now, with some help from us, and a great deal of his own research and contact work with her family, friends and acquaintances, Bob has put together a write up on Joyce Francis, her life and works.  This is now available on Bob’s own website – see http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Joyce_Francis/Joyce_Francis.htm.

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The review gives an account of the life and work of this artist, starting with her illustrations for The Rubaiyat (Ebenezer Baylis Booklet no.6). and continuing through the various other works illustrated by her, to her work as an exhibited artist, and the story of Cae Newydd (her home in Wales) and her Arts and Crafts Café in Aberdovey.  There are extensive images of Joyce Francis’ work, and her story provides a fascinating view of an artist whose life spanned most of the 20th century.  There are also important insights into the history of book publishing and illustration in the 1930’s.  We are very grateful to Bob and his contacts for enabling these stories to reach the public domain.

Addendum 02-09-19

Bob has now published his article on Joyce Francis as no. 10 in his series of Rubaiyat Artists booklets.  Like others in this series, the booklet has only been distributed privately, but copies have been given to the main legal deposit libraries and some other libraries in the UK and can be consulted through them.  For more information about this series, and the distribution of the booklets, see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2019/05/16/more-booklets-on-rubaiyat-artists-from-bob-forrest/.