The ‘Titanic Omar’ preserved for all time (virtually)?
The story of the ‘Titanic Omar’ bookbinding can hardly be described as ‘untold’ but perhaps it is time to add another chapter.
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam bound by Stanley Bray of Sangorski & Sutcliffe following the patterns of the original binding, which was lost on the Titanic - doublure- British Library C188c27
1909-1912 London bookbinders Sangorski and Sutcliffe bound a deluxe copy of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám with over a thousand jewels.
1912 Purchased by American collector Gabriel White who sent the book home on the Titanic. Lost.
1912 July Sangorski drowned in the sea while bathing.
Press cuttings about Sangorski's death provided with the Bray bequest
1932-39 Sutcliffe’s nephew, binder Stanley Bray, recreated the binding.
Lower cover of second version - image provided with the Bray bequest
1941 Placed for safekeeping in a vault, which received a direct hit during the Blitz. Destroyed.
1985-1989 Bray bound the third (and final?) version during his retirement.
Stanley Bray working on the third Omar - image provided with the Bray bequest
2005 Bequeathed to the British Library by Mr and Mrs Bray.
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam bound by Stanley Bray of Sangorski & Sutcliffe following the patterns of the original binding, which was lost on the Titanic - lower doublure- British Library C188c27
The next part of the Omar’s story involves conservation and recording. The book has been on show in the British Library galleries but needs to be rested periodically. Can we use new processes including 3D imagery to ensure the binding is available virtually, while the item itself is assessed by Conservation? You be the judge.
This model was created by the British Library’s Imaging Services and Sketchfab. Supervision was provided by the Library’s conservators. Only the outside of the binding has been captured. It is important to establish that the process can cope safely with the many protruding onlays and jewels before considering its application to the dazzling inner boards and printed content.
The next stage is an assessment of the book’s structure. It is hoped that specialists will check and record its physical condition, notably the mounting of the jewels.
P. J. M. Marks
Printed Heritage Collections.
Rob Shepherd. Lost on the Titanic (London:Shepherds Sangorski & Sutcliffe and Zaehnsdorf, 2001.)
BL Image Database of Bookbindings