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The Cinderella of the Arts: A Short History of Sangorski & Sutcliffe

The Cinderella of the Arts, written by Rob Shepherd, charts the history of one of the most celebrated craft bookbinding workshops of the 20th century. Sangorski & Sutcliffe was founded in 1901 and within a few years the workshop had grown into the most important hand bindery of the Edwardian era.

Published on 25 Jan. 2016

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The Cinderella of the Arts, written by Rob Shepherd, charts the history of one of the most celebrated craft bookbinding workshops of the 20th century. Sangorski & Sutcliffe was founded in 1901 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 tells the story of the second Great Omar, created during the turbulent years preceding the Second World War.

Sangorski & Sutcliffe achieved many successes but this is also the story of how a small manufacturing business adapted to economic pressures in testing times. The book 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 nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries and the contribution they made to hand-binding at its highest level.

The story of one hand bindery highlights the significant role the professional trade has played in preserving this noble craft, a trade which Sangorski & Sutcliffe continues to this day.

The Cinderella of the Arts. A Short History of Sangorski & Sutcliffe.


Shepherds, Oak Knoll 2015. 275 x 210 mm. 200+ 8 pp. Cover 300 gsm Silk.

Available from Shepherds Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Click here to purchase the book!

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