The Cinderella of the Arts: A Short History of Sangorski & Sutcliffe, a London Bookbinding Firm Established in 1901. Including a story of the Great Omar, a jewelled binding of the Rub'iyat of Omar Kahyyam lost on the Titanic in 1912.
London: Shepherds and Oak Knoll Press, 2015,
First Edition. large octavo, pictorial wrappers. (208) pp. Shepherds and Oak Knoll Press, Item #25350
This book charts the history of one of the most important craft bookbinding workshops of the twentieth century. Sangorski& Sutcliffe was founded in 1901. The founding partners, Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe, established a business specialising in only the finest quality work and within a few years the workshop had grown into the most important hand bindery of the Edwardian era. The firm's greatest achievement from the early years, a binding that was to become known as the Great Omar, was decorated with over a thousand jewels; the story of its creation and subsequent loss on the Titanic has all the mystery and intrigue of a romantic melodrama. This book also includes the dramatic story of the second Great Omar, created during the turbulent years preceding the Second World War. The first fifty years of the company's history was a period which saw many changes in both the bookbinding industry and in the firm's fortunes. There were many notable successes, particularly in the years before and after the First World War, but the financial crash in 1929 and the depression that followed had serious consequences for a business dependent on exports and a luxury market. This is the story, in part, of how a small manufacturing firm adapted to economic pressures in testing times. The chapter 'Gentlemen and Players' looks at the influence the Arts and Crafts movement had on the trade, particularly during Sangorski& Sutcliffe's formative years, and examines the monetary and social conditions which led eventually to the closure of many of the larger firms. A good deal of material has been published about the practical aspects of craft bookbinding. There are also plenty of books on the history of the craft, particularly from a design perspective, but very little has been written about the commercial binderies that flourished in the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries and the contribution they made to hand-binding at its highest level. There is a danger the history of fine trade binding could disappear forever. The story of one hand bindery highlights the significant role the professional trade has played in preserving this noble and significant craft, a trade which Sangorski& Sutcliffe continues to this day. Illustrated in color. New.