San Francisco: Paul Elder and Company, (1909). James, Gilbert. Limited Edition. Leather bound. Number 173 of 225 copies of the Tentmaker's Edition, duodecimo size, 102 pp., in a custom binding by E. Julihn. Very good +. Item #18060201
The "Rubaiyat" needs no introduction, having captured the imagination of the literary world and inspired countless versions, many by highly regarded artists. This version is based on Fitzgerald's final revision; the "Literal Omar" is "a version of those quatrains of the original upon which FitzGerald's Poem was based" (n.b., as set forth on the title page).
With illustrations by Gilbert James (1865-1941), who, according to researcher Robert Forrest, was "one of the earliest and most prolific of the artists to take up the challenge of providing illustrations for FitzGerald’s verses and his work was reprinted many times in different forms during the 20th century" (n.b., from the web site of the Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat). According to Houfe, "James worked mostly in a heavy art nouveau style, [with] strong contrasts and very mannered and symbolic subjects often with an Eastern setting" (Houfe, "The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators", p. 190).
The printing and publishing done by Paul Elder and Company, which, in 1909, included the master printer John Henry Nash (1871-1947) at the beginning of his illustrious career: as stated in the colophon ("And this book was imprinted under the skillful direction of John H. Nash...").
This volume in a lovely custom binding by "E. Julihn" (binder's signature on rear turn-in), who could be either Eric G.A. Julihn of Alameda, California or Eric H. Julihn of San Francisco, California - both of these men had examples of their bindings on display at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915 (both names are listed in the list of exhibitors for Book-Binding, Books and Publications, "The Official Catalogue of Exhibitors".
___DESCRIPTION: Full leather custom binding by "E. Julihn", the front board with a small illustration of a wine goblet with grapevines above and below the cup, the illustration enclosed by a narrow gilt double ruled border, the board with another narrow gilt double ruled border at the edges, the spine with narrow gilt borders above and below the five raised spines, gilt lettering, the rear board with only the double gilt border at the edges, top edge gilt, fore-and bottom edges rough-cut, all edges of the boards with a narrow gilt rule, moss-green endpapers, the pastedown endpapers also with a narrow gilt ruled border, limitation statement opens the book, this no. 173 of 225 copies "on Arnold Hand-Made Paper" and referred to as the "Tentmaker's Edition", with eight mounted illustrations by Gilbert James in sepia tones throughout (including the frontispiece), title page in red and black with a decoration by Harold Sichel, three decorations by Sichel as headpieces to the Preface and at the opening pages of the text of the Rubaiyat and of The Literal Omar, running titles in red in the margins throughout, colophon in red; printed on Arnold hand-made paper, duodecimo size (7 5/8" by 5.25"), pagination: [i-iv being the limitation and half-title pages] [i-ii being the title and copyright pages] iii-xii [Contents and Preface], -85, [86 being the colophon].
___CONDITION: Binding is near fine, the leather remains smooth and supple, the gilt illustration on the front board bright and unrubbed, and clean; some light rubbing to the head and tail of the spine and the top corners, else the custom binding is fine. Structurally also near fine, with straight corners (with the aforementioned minimal rubbing), and a strong, square text block with solid hinges; the book has a very slight lift to the front board, but the boards are not bowed. The interior collates complete and is mostly clean and bright; we are grading as very good plus due to one of the plate pages having a brownish stain (which may be residue from the glue used in the mounting process which has deepened in colour through the years), which is also evident in the margins of the following few pages; the sole prior owner marking we see is a name written in pencil at the top of the first flyleaf.
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