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Lotus Library Publications No. 1: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Request for information

July 26, 2018

Joe Howard and Bob Forrest have sent us the following request for information relating to the Lotus Library edition of the Rubaiyat.  This request derives from their work on the illustrator of this edition, W G Stirling, which has been the subject of a number of earlier posts on this blog.

It has come to our attention that there are variants of one of the illustrations in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam illustrated by W G Stirling and published, in a limited 1000 copies edition, by Lotus Library Publications (Potter 174).

The three variants that we are aware of are shown below. They contain different representation of the ‘eye” of the peacock feather that covers the woman’s abdomen. These images are otherwise identical.

Fig. 1                                                       Fig. 2                                                  Fig. 3

An informal survey of several Rubaiyat enthusiasts shows that, of eleven copies examined, one contains the Fig. 2 version, one contains Fig. 3 and nine have Fig. 1. Of these latter nine, four, when examined carefully, have clear signs of the “eye” of Fig. 2 showing through the black ink.

Our current hypothesis is that there was an “original” illustration which was then altered in different ways by adding ink. We also consider it likely that the ink has been applied more thickly in some instances. One plausible reason for these alterations is that the “eye” in illustrations like Fig. 2 or 3 could be interpreted, somewhat embarrassingly in a 1918 context, as representing parts of the female reproductive system and that this was not realized until after printing had started. This does not immediately explain why there are more than two variants. The limited-edition numbers of the 11 copies are interspersed with one another, so it appears that the modifications were not done in sequential batches.

We would really like to gather data on additional copies of this Rubaiyat and would appreciate it if owners of this edition would provide the following information;

(a) limited edition number

(b) whether the image is like Fig. 1 or Fig. 2, or Fig.3. If not, send us a photo of the illustration in your copy

(c) when examined at different angles or with different lights can you see evidence a concealed image? If so is it like one of those above?

We appreciate that this is a lot to ask, so, send what you can. The information can be sent to joehoward000@gmail.com, or if you prefer not to share your email, please send it in a message to Sandra and Bill at this blog.

We offer our sincere thanks for your help and we will report the results of the survey, with our conclusions, in this blog. We are extremely grateful to those who have already shared information and photographs with us.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Fred Diba permalink
    July 26, 2018 5:26 pm

    my copy is no.311 but I cannot access it, as I have donated my collection to an academic institution and it is in the process of being readied for shipping.

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