Magnificent bindings by Sangorski & Sutcliffe from the Cardiff Rare Books Collection

“The deserted village” by Oliver Goldsmith (1855), bound in green morocco with gilt and colour inlays by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.

I was recently asked to put out a display of books from our modern fine bindings, which gave me a perfect excuse to rummage through the stacks of the Cardiff Rare Books Collection pulling out some our most beautiful items. We are lucky to have a number of exceptional bindings by some of the leading craftsmen of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including several outstanding examples from the famed London firm of Sangorski & Sutcliffe.

Back cover of “The deserted village”

Formed by Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe in 1901, this bindery was best known for producing elaborate bindings inlaid with gold and encrusted with precious stones. Their most famous work was a fabulous copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, with a lavishly decorated binding designed by Sangorski that took the firm over two years to produce. Finally completed in 1911, the Great Omar was shipped off to America on the maiden voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ RMS Titanic and was never seen again.

“The book of wonder” by Lord Dunsany, published by Heinemann in 1912 and bound by S&S in full deerskin with a spider web design in gilt.

Back cover of “The book of wonder”.

Detail from “The first crusade” (1945), three-quarter-bound in vellum over orange cloth with a wonderful gilt design.

Ivor Bannet’s “The Amazons” (1948), published by Golden Cockerel Press and three-quarter-bound in brown morocco over marbled paper-covered boards.

These are just a few examples of the fine bindings in the Rare Books collection, with many more waiting to be discovered and featured in future blog posts.

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