The Adventures of Hajji Baba in Ispahan by J.J. Morier (1947)
LEC #179/17th Series V.5 in 1947
Artwork: Illustrations by Honoré Guilbeau
Preface by Sir Walter Scott, Introduced by E.G. Browne
LEC #1368 of 1500. Heritage Press reprint.
Click images to see larger views.
Front Binding – Happy holidays dear readers! This month’s post returns us to the whimsical sketches of Honoré Guilbeau with the cousin volume to the later The Shaving of Shagpat, The Adventures of Hajji Baba in Ispahan. Before diving into Guilbeau, W.A. Dwiggins and the connections between these two, let’s talk about the author of this particular work, J.J. Morier (James Justinian). Morier was a British diplomat who primarily focused on relations with Iran, with a two year stint later on in Mexico. It was during this time in Mexico where his best known work, The Adventures of Hajji Baba in Ispahan, was put to pen in 1824. A sequel, The Adventures of Hajji Baba in Ispahan in England, followed in 1828. While Morier continued to write following his political career, none of his later works of fiction matched the success or critical reception of the Hajii Baba books. He died in 1849. This would be the sole edition of his work printed by the George Macy Company, although it would see a Heritage Press reprint.
Guilbeau, meanwhile, began her artistic career with the LEC with this particular book, winning one of the five finalist positions in the third commission competition with her pencil drawings for Hajji Baba. As designer W.A. Dwiggins retorted in the LEC newsletter for Shagpat, “When this book appears, it will establish that gal as a woman who really knows how to make pictures! I can’t remember when I have seen drawings for a book that pleased me so much.” Clearly the two enjoyed working with each other as they would reunite for her last commission, the aforementioned Shagpat. I’ve referred to these two as “cousin” volumes; mainly that’s because both feature stories from the Middle East depicted by British authors designed by Dwiggins and illustrated by Guilbeau. The spine, title page and aesthetic choices are remarkably similar as well. In between she worked alongside designer Charles Skaggs on the LEC Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Heritage edition was covered here). She lived quite the long life, passing away in 2006 at the age of 99.
Design Notes – As noted, Dwiggins served as designer on this. Here’s the QM details:
Slipcase – A very fancy foil was applied to the slipcase here, with the same pattern as the front and back bindings of the books.
Title Page – Much like Shagpat, Dwiggins delivers a beautiful title page with a rich kaleidoscope of inks.
Colophon – This is #1368 of 1500, and was signed by Guilbeau.
Examples of Guilbeau’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – After getting Shagpat nearly ten years ago (oh my!) and posting about it way back then, it’s always been a bit of a wish list to snag its older cousin, as the two share so much in common. Luckily, this edition finally fell into my hands in 2020 when I acquired multiple volumes from NYCFAddict, a fellow devotee. So now I have both and I’m super happy about it, haha.