RABIÂ EL KOULOUB OU LE PRINTEMPS DES COEURS.
(Paris: H. Piazza et Cie. 1902). 248 x 178 mm. (9 3/4 x 7"). 175,  pp.,  leaf (colophon). No. 248 OF 260 COPIES on papier vélin (from a total edition of 300).
EXTRAVAGANT BLUE MOROCCO, GILT AND INLAID, BY OTTO SCHULZE (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with a very decorative gilt frame enclosing a Moorish design featuring a lobed central panel framed by a strip of terra cotta morocco inlaid with 96 black morocco and gilt flowers, and (between this and the outer frame) a panel of lilac morocco inlaid with swirls of gilt vines terminating in 22 red blossoms; raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with central fleuron surrounded by small tools and five inlaid red morocco flowers, inner dentelles with brown morocco frame flanked by large and small decorative gilt rolls, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. Original color-illustrated paper wrappers bound in at the rear. With decorative borders enclosing text and with 58 CHROMOLITHOGRAPHED ILLUSTRATIONS BY DINET, consisting of title page and three section titles, four head- or tailpieces, 41 illustrations in the text, and nine full-page plates. Verso of front free endpaper with bookplate of John R. Menzies. Carteret IV, 140. Spine lightly sunned, one tiny spot on half title, but A VERY FINE COPY, clean, fresh, and bright internally, and in a binding with no signs of wear.
This is a strikingly bound deluxe copy of the first book produced by the French Orientalist painter Étienne Dinet and his Arabic teacher and closest friend, Sliman ben Ibrahim. The text of three Saharan folktales related here by Sliman are illustrated with Dinet's sensuous watercolors, and the whole is bound with great animation and skill by Otto Schulze of Edinburgh. Dinet and Sliman met in Algeria in 1889, when Sliman saved the painter from an ambush. Sliman accompanied Dinet to Paris in 1896, where he met the French Society of Oriental Painters and impressed them with both his character and his couscous. Sliman and Dinet also collaborated on a biography of Mohammed and an account of the Hajj they made after Dinet's conversion to Islam. The binding here is reminiscent of an Oriental carpet and echoes Dinet's beautiful designs used inside the book. Operating during the first 10 or 15 years of the 20th century, Otto Schulze was an Edinburgh publisher whose books sometimes appeared in bindings said to have been done by him. As in the case of other publishers and booksellers, such bindings often were done for, rather than by, the party whose name is stamp-signed on the volume. Bindings signed by Schulze are consistently attractive but are not common: since 1975, ABPC has listed six such (morocco) bindings, two of them described as "elaborate" or "extra." Since our volume says that the binding is by--and not for--Schulze, we can only assume that our publisher had an in-house binder. From 1906 until his death in 1935, our previous owner, John R. Menzies, was chairman of John Menzies & Co., founded in Edinburgh in 1833 by his father. The firm sold books, magazines, and newspapers, becoming (with W. H. Smith) one of two major newsagents in the United Kingdom in the 20th century (until bought out by its rival in 1990). (ST17129-011)