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24 January 2018: Sangorski & Sutcliffe

They say 'Never Judge a Book by its Cover', but this month we're prepared to make an exception as we focus some of the beautiful works in our library bound by the esteemed binders Sangorski & Sutcliffe. 

 

About Sangorski & Sutcliffe

Sangorski and Sutcliffe was established in 1901 by Francis Sangorksi and George Sutcliffe, who met in 1896 at a bookbinding evening class in London. After being made redundant from their jobs at Douglas Cockerell’s bindery, they decided to set up their own company. Sangorski are perhaps best known for their revival of jewelled bookbinding, using precious and semi-precious jewels in their already heavily decorative bindings. Perhaps the most famous work of Sangorski and Sutcliffe was The Great Omar- a copy of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám which contained over 1000 jewels. In 1912, on the way to its new owner, the book sank with the Titanic. Shortly after, Sangorski died in a drowning accident. The second copy of The Great Omar was bound on the eve of World War Two and kept in a bank safe vault which was later destroyed by enemy bombing. A third copy, created by the nephew of George Sutcliffe is now safely housed in the British Library.

In 1988, Sangorski and Zaehnsdorf, another renowned bindery, were bought by Asprey, who merged them to become SSZ limited. Shepherds bookbinding later purchased SSZ Limited, and brought back the individual brands with their former names. 

Here are a few examples of their work in our library...

 

1929 The Old Country Ernest Rhys Praise of England Sangorski and Sutcliffe Illus

 

 ‘The Old Country’ is a wonderful anthology of poems, all based around the charms of England. The work was first published in 1917 as a way for those serving in WWI to remember home, however, it proved to be extremely popular and so was reprinted many times for others to read and enjoy. The anthology includes works from some of England’s best known poets, including  Thomas Hardy, Robert Browning and Alfred Lord Tennyson, to name a few. The example we have in our library is bound in a beautiful Sangorski binding, with particularly charming floral endpapers and excellent gilt detail. The work is especially unusual as it is presented in the original card slipcase.

 

1914 Lavengro The Scholar The Gypsy The Priest George Borrow Sangorski Binding

 

 

First published in 1851, ‘Lavengro: The Scholar, the Gypsy , the Priest’ is widely considered a classic of 19th century literature, merging the genres of novel and memoir to create a fascinating work detailing the unnamed protagonists life, from his beginnings as the son of an officer to his life as a tinker. This particular copy is presented in a full morocco Sangorski and Sutcliffe binding, with gilt detail. Our edition also contains twelve tipped in coloured plates by British book illustrator E. K. Sullivan. Sullivan’s style merged traditional British illustration with aspects of Art Nouveau and proved to an extremely popular addition to a variety of texts. Sullivan illustrated a number of well-known works during his career, including an 1896 edition of Walton’s The Complete Angler and the 1900 Macmillan edition of Tennyson’s Maud.

 

1921 Reflections on a Financier Otto H Kahn Study of Economic Asprey Zaehnsdorf

 

 

Otto Hermann Kahn was a German investment banker and collector. Despite his ambitions to become a musician, his father had set career plans for each of his children, and had previously decided that Otto was to become a banker. Kahn would eventually become known as extremely competent figure in the reorganisation of railways, handling the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the Wabash Railroad, amongst others.

 Kahn wrote a number of extremely well regarded economic works, including the work in our library ‘Reflections of a Financier- A Study of Economic and Other Problems’ which deals with the economic state of the world in the aftermath of the First World War, giving an interesting insight into the relationship between countries in the West. The copy that has been added to our library is the first edition of the work, published in 1921. The binders stamp on this work indicates it is an Asprey of London binding. The work was bound in the 1980s, after Asprey’s acquisition of Zaehnsdorf’s bindery, who merged it with their previous acquisition of Sangorski and Sutcliffe, so is likely to be a Zaehsndorf, under the name of Asprey. The binding itself is a quarter crushed morocco binding, with blue cloth boards. 

 

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