October 3, 2017. Dominic Riley on ‘Lost on the Titanic: the Making of the Great Omar Book Binding’

This is the story of the most fabulous and opulent binding ever created.

The Great Omar was the most fabulous, elaborate and opulent binding ever created. It was embellished with over one thousand jewels, five thousand leather onlays and a hundred square feet of gold leaf, and took a team of craftsmen over two and a half years to make. It went down with the Titanic. This lecture tells the story of the making of the fabulous Great Omar. It is also the story of the renowned bookbinding firm of Sangorski and Sutcliffe – who were known for their elaborate jewelled bindings – and the men that made this extraordinary book. It also tells the moving story of life after the tragedy, and of one young man in particular, who decided against the odds to recreate the binding, a venture which itself is mired in tragedy and which occupied him for the rest of his life.

Dominic Riley is a bookbinder, artist and teacher. He first learned bookbinding at 16 from Benedictine Monks at Douai Abbey in Berkshire and later at the London College of Printing. He has worked at the V&A, and for various binderies in London, New York and San Francisco, and spends part of the year teaching across the USA. He has his bindery in the Lake District, from where he travels across the UK teaching master classes and lecturing. He is Vice President of the Society of Bookbinders and was elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 2008. His binding work is mostly the restoration of antiquarian books and Design Bindings. He has won many prizes in the Designer Bookbinders competition, including both first prizes and the Mansfield Silver Medal in 2007. His bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library and the John Rylands Library in Manchester. In 2010 he bound a special copy of the winner of the Booker Prize which was presented to the author. In June 2013 he won first prize in the prestigious Sir Paul Getty International Bookbinding Competition. His winning binding was acquired by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

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