Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia. RUBÁIYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM, binders ZAEHNSDORF, Edward FITZGERALD.
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia

London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd, 1896. Item #05319

A Fine and Early Exhibition Binding by Zaehnsdorf

[BINDING]. ZAEHNSDORF, binders. Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám the Astronomer-Poet of Persia. Rendered into English Verse. London: Macmillan and Co., 1894.

Octavo (8 x 5 1/2 inches; 204 x 140 mm.). [iv], 112 pp.

Bound ca. 1896 by Zaehnsdorf, stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in and with small oval gilt 'exhibition' stamp on rear paste-down. Full dark green morocco, covers elaborately decorated in gilt in a densely massed, glittering carpet of small gilt leaves against which appear sixteen gilt roses on the front cover and twelve on the rear cover. Front cover decoratively lettered in gilt. Spine with five raised bands, elaborately decorated and lettered in gilt in compartments. Gilt ruled board edges, elaborate gilt floral design turn-ins, marbled end-papers, top edge gilt. Housed in a black cloth-lined quarter dark green morocco over black cloth boards clamshell case, spine with five raised bands lettered in gilt in compartments. Minimal rubbing to front joint, otherwise fine.

An early and near fine 'Exhibition' binding by Zaehnsdorf executed ca. 1896 (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in) and with oval gilt 'Exhibition' stamp on rear paste-down which was used for only their finest work. Ink inscription on front blank "Dec. 1896" and similar ink inscription on rear blank "Christmas 1896".

Edward FitzGerald’s version of Omar Khayyam’s quatrains was widely read only after it was taken up by the Pre-Raphaelites in 1861. The first version of the Rubáiyat had been published in 1859, the same year that Darwin’s Origin of the Species had appeared. A few years later, Matthew Arnold would publish “Dover Beach”, in which the melancholy long retreat of the “Sea of Faith” left humanity on a “darkling plain”. Already in 1850, in “In Memoriam”, Tennyson had raised questions about Christian doctrine and the immortality of the soul, only to dismiss them with suspicious glibness. The doubts and fears of the twelfth-century Persian philosopher were shared by many of his English and American readers. In the Rubáiyat, as the day wears on, its mostly agnostic protagonist becomes increasingly preoccupied by thoughts of mortality and judgment in a possible afterlife, and this too perfectly matched the Victorian preoccupation with death. Deathbed scenes were a popular staple of fiction and the cowled figure stalked through quite a few novels.

"There are few firms of craft bookbinders that can claim an existence of longer than one hundred years. One which can is Zaehnsdorf Limited, founded in 1842 by Joseph Zaehnsdorf. It remained under the direct control of three successive generations of the Zaehnsdorf family...Bindings produced by the firm of Zaehnsdorf are still admired today the excellence of craftsmanship which they display" (Broomhead, The Zaehnsdorfs (1842-1947): Craft Bookbinders, p. 11).

Price: $6,500.00