New York: Sheikhs ul Kaaba, March 21st, 1885. Envelope or Cover. This invitation, dated March 21st, 1885, is printed on pink paper measuring approximately 5” x 8”. It is signed in print by Charles Southern and Rober Hyslop. It is enclosed in a matching pink envelope featuring a ‘ankh ansata’ (also referred to as a ‘handled-cross’ or ‘Coptic ankh) which is shape like an ankh but with a circular rather than teardrop shaped loop. The envelope is franked with a one-cent dark ultramarine Franklin stamp (Scott #182) and canceled with a New York postmark. The invitation reads in part: “A special enclosure of this Khanakeen, will be held at ‘Bade Bros’ . . . to consider the final adoption of a Constitution and By-laws, as well as for the transaction of such other business as may be offered for the welfare of the Khanakeen. / Charles Sotheran, Sheikh of Allah / Robert Hyslop, Sheikh Fakir”. Very good. Item #009715
There is no information about the Sheiks of Kaaba available online, and at first glance it would appear they were simply one of many secret fraternal organizations that became popular in the late 1800s. However, Charles Sotheran, was a founding member in the Theosophical Society, who, in fact, gave that organization its name, and Robert Hyslop may well have been a relative of J. Hyslop, another founding member). Sotheran, a wealthy New Yorker antiquarian, bookseller, and journalist was a member of the famous London bookselling family and worked for Sabin and Sons, helping to publish their journal, The American Bibliopolist. He belonged to the Brotherhood of the Rosie Cross, was active in Egyptian Rite Masonry, and a student of the kabbalah, Egypt, and all things mystical. Sotheran was present at the first meeting of what he (although Henry Steel Olcott also claimed credit) would later name the Theosophical Society, where he was elected as its first librarian and appointed to a committee to draft its constitution and by-laws. Apparently, Sotheran had a difficult personality, clashed publicly with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and other foundeers, eventually resigning his membership. Later, Sotheran apologized and rejoined the society. However, disagreements continued and after 1879, when Blavatsky and Olcott relocated the society to India, all mentions of Sotheran in theosophical writings ceased. Perhaps forming the Sheiks of Kaaba, was his attempt to rekindle a similar movement in New York. . (More Information about Sotheran and the Theosophical Society can be found online.) Possibly the only extant record of Sotheran’s post-Theosophical mystical activities. At the time of listing nothing similar is for sale in the trade; nothing similar has appeared at auction per Rare Book Hub and Worthpoint, and nothing similar is held by an institution per OCLC.