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Ambrose George Potter and a new index for his bibliography

July 28, 2016

potterorigBelow is a summary of the second part of Bob Forrest’s presentation to the Rubaiyat Research Day on 9th July 2016.  It concerns Ambrose George Potter, who produced a well know Bibliography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ‘together with Kindred Mattter …’  The latter is a wonderful resource but it is marred by a very idiosyncratic index.  There have also been relatively few details about Potter’s own life history.  These are gaps that Bob Forrest and Douglas Taylor have been working to fill.  One result is a splendid new Index for the Bibliography which Bob has had printed, and he presented participants at the Research Day with individual copies. The new Index contains, at the back, a ‘Provisional Biography’ of Potter, giving much new information.

We owe Bob and Douglas a big thank you for their work and their generosity.  We have a few more copies of the Index that could go to locations where they would serve a real research need, e.g. libraries and other institutions.  Please get in touch if you meet this description and would like a copy.

There is a link between Col R J R Brown (the subject of the first part of this presentation – see previous post) and Ambrose George Potter. Potter bought a copy of Life’s Echoes  (#176 in his bibliography) and was rewarded with a 2 page letter from the Colonel, this now being in the UCLA collection of Potter ephemera. Herein lies a story.

If you are lucky enough to buy a copy of Life’s Echoes and find some plates are missing in your purchase, your natural reaction – as both Garry Garrard and Douglas Taylor know – is to head for a library which has a copy of the book and to make scans of the plates you are missing. The trouble is, as Garry found, the library copies are mostly missing the same plates – as we now know, because they were never there in the first place. But more puzzling – Douglas found when he went to see the UCLA copy (which is the one once owned by Potter) that it was missing no plates at all, but those occupying the pages which were missing plates in his copies (he has two) didn’t make sense in relation to the titles given in Brown’s index. To cut a long story short, it turns out that Potter’s copy did originally lack the same plates, but that Potter plugged the gaps with plates of Persian / Mughal art taken from three other books!

potterindexrfWhich brings us to Potter and his Bibliography. This – quite rightly – is a classic, and deserves our admiration, but most of us, I think, will have been driven to distraction by its index. For a long time I thought of doing a ‘proper’ index, but kept putting it off in view of the labour involved. And then, one day, Douglas Taylor happened to mention that he had already done one… When I knew about this study day, I suggested to Douglas that we should combine his index with a provisional biography of Potter which I had done, and print off a few copies for distribution “on the occasion”. Sadly, Douglas couldn’t be with us on the day, but when he saw a copy a little while ago, he was pleased with the result, noting in particular the spacious margins – “ideal for noting down errors”, as he put it! I think this index will be of great use, but we would ask people to report any errors that they do find so that we can correct them in the event of a second edition.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. fdiba2 . permalink
    July 28, 2016 9:49 am

    Hello How can I buy one copy of Bob Forrest’s Index?

    Regards Fred Diba​

    On 28 July 2016 at 11:34, Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat wrote:

    > SandraBill OKR posted: “Below is a summary of the second part of Bob > Forrest’s presentation to the Rubaiyat Research Day on 9th July 2016. It > concerns Ambrose George Potter, who produced a well know Bibliography of > the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ‘together with Kindred Mattter …’ ” >

  2. July 28, 2016 11:53 am

    Thank you for your request, Fred. Can you tell us something more of your interest in the Rubaiyat and the new Index. Since copies available are limited, we need to know that it will be of real use. We hope you understand. If you want you can e-mail us directly about this, via the blog.

    • Fred Diba permalink
      December 14, 2017 11:19 pm

      I am a collector of Rubaiyats in western languages, since about 50 years. My collection numbers over 1000 editions. I have three editions of Potter: 1923-1929-1994. I would very much like to complete it with a copy of the new Index.
      Your assistance in this is much appreciated.


  1. New index for Potter’s Bibliography now available online | Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat

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