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Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906

November 2, 2018

Several years ago Danton O’Day posted information about an unusual one-off version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, lettered and illustrated by Frank E Unger*, which is in his collection;  see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/unger-1906-a-one-of-a-kind-illustrated-copy-of-fitzgeralds-rubaiyat/.  Danton has now produced a replica copy of this book.  He has sent us the following details of his new publication.

This beautiful one-of-a-kind poetry book presents 86 unpublished watercolors by a previously unknown artist, Frank E. Unger* reproduced in a 6×9 inch, softcover format by Danton H. O’Day. Unger privately published his unique and complete collection of colorful decorated and embellished verses of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Of these artistic works, 82 are watercolours consisting of various styles of calligraphy coupled with elaborate page decorations. In addition to the decorated verses, there is an opening title page and a penultimate page that depicts the opening bars from the sheet music for “Moon of My Delight” composed by Liza Lehmann. As with various versions of the Rubáiyát, a simple page with the word “TAMAM” ends the book.

Two pages of calligraphed text are also present at the start, one covering introductory content by John Hay and another more profusely decorated one on the Persian poet Omar Khayyám, who wrote the original verses that FitzGerald translated. The book was completed in 1906, placing it within the Golden Age of Rubáiyát Art, 1884-1913, an era dominated by numerous established artists. Unlike those artists, Unger appears to have left no trace of his artistic life save this sole, bound collection of his watercolours.

This new, unique book, “Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906”, celebrates Unger’s artistic contribution beginning with an introduction to his work and ending with a discussion of how the artist depicted the verses and put his own emphasis on their presentation. It stands alone as lovely book of poetry and would be strong addition to any Rubáiyát collection.

Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906, by Danton H. O’Day, Emeritus Books. Full colour, 96pp, softcover, 6×9”, ISBN 978-0-46-471984-7, US$14.99 or less.

Available from: Amazon.uk, Amazon.com and other online booksellers.

* Further information contained in the comments below on this post suggest that the artist’s name is actually Frank L Unger.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Douglas C Taylor permalink
    November 12, 2018 4:57 pm

    I believe this artist is Frank L. Unger 1851-1915.
    Douglas Taylor

  2. November 13, 2018 9:52 am

    Thanks for this information Douglas. Are you able to tell us anything more about the source of your information and/or about the background of the artist?
    S&B

  3. Douglas C Taylor permalink
    November 13, 2018 8:24 pm

    http://content.scu.edu/digital/collection/p17268coll7/id/1444/

    In the second paragraph beneath “Circles the World” read:
    “Book collectors will pay more and more as the years go on for the unique illuminations that he made of the selected texts.”

    See his signature in Frederic Remington’s guest book:
    I hate you Frank L. Unger 1.99

    Note that Danton O’Day refers to the spine as being stamped: “F.L. Unger.”

    Douglas Taylor

  4. November 14, 2018 10:40 am

    Thanks for sharing that information, Douglas. The signatures are certainly very similar. We have now received our copy of Danton’s facsimile edition and we have been enjoying the variety of decoration and calligraphy that Unger managed to produce. Whatever his second name, he was quite a fine artist, and a good portraitist from the evidence of the Remington guest book.

  5. Danton H. O'Day permalink
    November 14, 2018 3:42 pm

    I’d like to thank Douglas C. Taylor for the updated information and correction regarding Frank L. Unger. Unger’s middle initial is “L.”, as noted by Douglas. I made a typo in my book, an embarrassing error I for which I apologize. Over the past several years I have searched many times for information on Unger, so I was surprised and pleased that Douglas found a detailed obituary in the San Francisco Examiner that I will read in detail shortly. It is through the sharing of information on the omarkhayyamrubaiyat site that our understanding of Rubaiyat publications can continue to grow and amaze.
    Danton H. O’Day

  6. November 14, 2018 4:22 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Danton. We are glad that interactions on this blog can help to further everyone’s research.

  7. Kevin Taylor permalink
    December 24, 2018 12:18 am

    Frank Unger was a well loved and respected member of the Bohemian Club, who circled the globe four times and was the secretary of Harry Gillig (second husband of the famous mystic, princess and heiress, Aimee Crocker). He was a friend to Robert Louis Stevenson.

  8. Kevin Taylor permalink
    January 2, 2019 1:26 am

    I would love to post a couple of photos of Frank Unger.

    • January 2, 2019 3:29 pm

      Hi Kevin, I’ve already posted over 1 dozen pictures from the book but if you have a specific quatrain you would like to see by Unger, please let me know. If you have any Rubaiyat pictures by Unger, it would be great if you would post those. Take care and Happy New Year, Danton.

      • Kevin Taylor permalink
        January 2, 2019 8:45 pm

        Frank Unger came under my radar several years ago while researching a book. I have dozens of articles that mention him. I have photos of him that I got at Berkeley of him at the Bohemian Club with club members…. If you’re interested…

  9. January 2, 2019 10:40 pm

    Thanks for your offer, Kevin. If you like to email some pictures to us via this blog we can post them for you.

    • January 2, 2019 11:31 pm

      Photos attached. Frank Unger was a member of San Francisco's Bohemian Club in the "Old Guard" who performed in several "High Jinks" and "Low Jinks" stage plays. He was at one point on the Board of Directors. He was a friend to Robert Louis Stevenson and the poet and travel writer Charles Stoddard. His daughter was the playwright Gladys Unger. He was also the secretary to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Gillig.

       

      Amy (later Aimee) Crocker Gillig was a famous mystic, Bohemian, princess, heiress and author (I am her authorized biographer). Frank travelled all over the world with the Gilligs.

       

      Unger was a devout royalist and a friend to King Kalakaua, Queen Lliuokalani and Princess Kaʻiulani of the Sandwich Islands, now Hawaii.

       

      I've also attached an obituary for Frank Unger.

       

      Feel free to call with any questions at 213.210.7519. I can't wait to dig in to this book.

       

      Kevin Taylor

        Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2019 at 2:40 PM From: "Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat" <comment-reply@wordpress.com> To: frugoliandtaylor@mail.com Subject: [New comment] Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906

      <!–a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0,136,204); } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: rgb(37,133,178); color: rgb(255,255,255); } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: rgb(17,114,158); color: rgb(255,255,255); }

      • January 3, 2019 6:29 pm

        Thanks for these further comments, but the attachments don’t seem to come through in a comment. Could you possibly send them to us on sandrabill@omarkhayyamrubaiyat.com and to Danton on the address shown below. We can then put your contribution into a new post on this topic, with all acknoeledgements.

    • January 3, 2019 3:44 pm

      Hi Kevin, Sorry for misunderstanding your email offer. I’d love to see any info you have on Unger. It’s probably best that you send it to danton.oday@utoronto.ca unless Sandra and Bill have some other suggestions. Then we can talk about some of the info you have. Thanks and take care, Dan

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