The Rubaiyat


Books courtesy of Dick Blacher and Doug McFarland. Pictures and description courtesy of Paul Jackson. Commentary courtesy of Richard Blacher.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Rendered Into English by Edward Fitzgerald, 1900
Illumined by Elizabeth Wilkeson
Illumined by Anna Knights
Binding by Louis Kinder

Both Copies #1 of 40

Note: Each book is illumined by a different Roycroft Artisan. Skullduggery or innocent mistake? What is your take on it?

 Iím sure many of you have noticed, consciously or subconsciously, the seemingly endless examples of editions like The City of Tagaste appearing on the market. Well, itís my contention that at least two (and possibly three) editions of 940 copies each of this book were issued by the Roycroft. Several years ago a fellow collector, Allan Gross, was at my home and pointed out that two copies in my collection had distinctly different limitation statements (see photos). I suppose that the only absolute proof would be to have examples of the book with the two limitation statements, each bearing the same number. I would chalk this up as an anomaly, were it not the case that I know of several other examples of the same sort of less than ethical practices (skullduggery) by the Roycroft Shop. First, I have two copies of Walt Whitman, both numbered 50/50. Second, I have several examples of the suede bound, individual Little Journeys with three (yes, three) different limitation statements. Do the math: the individual, limited Little Journeys were issued one per month for three years; 12 months x 947 copies per edition x 3 separate editions x 3 years = 102,276 in print. Itís interesting and likely much more than a coincidence that all these occurred in the year 1900.


 This book measures 8 5/8" x 5 5/8" and has 51 pages. The regular edition of 1000 copies was printed on Boxmoor, hand illumined and bound in suede. The McKenna bibliography references Lane's book and states forty nine copies were printed on Japan Vellum and specially bound. As shown above, it is an edition of 40, rather than the 49 stated by McKenna and Lane. The text is in calligraphy. McKenna credits it to Sam Warner and states that the calligraphy was probably transferred to letter press for the run.
The edition 40 bound in ooze calf (suede) sold for $10.00 in the 1900 catalog. No mention is made of the full Levant edition. The 1901 catalog lists a Deluxe edition Rubaiyat bound by Louis Kinder at $25.00. It further states there is only one available.

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