The most precious book was sunk by the Titanic and burned in the London bombings

Among the most valuable works of art lost in the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 was painting. “La Circassian or Payne“The $ 100,000 worth of French painter Merry-Joseph Blondel wrote at the time is worth about three million euros today. Another equally well-known work is the most expensive edition. Quadraines (Rupees) Quoted in the book of poetry by the Persian poet Umar Qayam Titanic. True story American writer Walter Lord inspired director James Cameron for the 1997 blockbuster film.

In the UK, the book became known as “The Great Omar” because of its exceptional bond, which made up about 9 square meters of gold leaf and goat skin and was adorned with 1,050 precious stones, including gems, topaz and emerald. This is particularly unfortunate because it was lost in the sinking of the Titanic, and the equally valuable copy made twenty years later suffered a similar fate.

Omar Qayam was a philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet who lived in Iran between 1048 and 1131. He is very famous for his development Solar calendar The most accurate of the period, but his poems dealt with themes such as the abstraction of life and the inconsistency of existence. The Rupees (Or Rupee) Was first translated into English in the mid-nineteenth century and is best known for the work of two Irish scholars. As stated in a long article BBC, Also read by Francis SangorskyAn English craftsman had already built some volumes of work and in 1907 decided to make a card with decorations like “never seen before”.

At the time, Sangorsky was conducting a book-making workshop with his colleague George Sutcliffe, whom he met in 1897 to learn business, and the two received much acclaim, looking after some precious volumes for King Edward VII’s library. With great effort, Sangorsky managed to persuade John Stonehouse, who ran the London bookstore Soder, to hire him. The modern world knew that the cost of the work was “justified by the end” and that it was a “very unusual bond” when the book was finished.

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– read more: How books are made

Sangorsky completed the volume in 1911 after two years of work, decorating the cover, fourth, spine and some plates with peacocks, plants, musical instruments, animals, skulls and traditional Persian figurines of life and death. BBC He says he paid frantic attention to every detail: he borrowed a human skull and paid a London zoo staff to feed a snake to a snake in order to reproduce the maps as truly as possible.

Stonehouse was very pleased with what the newspaper said Daily Mirror He called it the “most extraordinary bond ever made in the world”, but it was considered by many to be the most cunning and enthusiastic, including the overseer of the State Library. But then his problems started.

Digital restoration of the volume lost in the sinking of the Titanic and one of the other editions of work bound by the Sangorsky and Sutcliffe laboratories

The size of the Sotheran bookstore sold for £ 1,000, which is equivalent to about € 140,000 today, but the only offer it received – and was rejected – was by New York bookseller Gabriel Wells, who was willing to spend only 800. Shortly afterwards, Stonehouse decided to send the book to the United States, thinking it was a more lucrative market than English, but the copy was returned because no one wanted to pay customs duty. He then proposed it back to Wells, who initially refused to buy it for 900 900 and then for 50 650, but was bought by one of his collaborators when “Great Omar” was auctioned off on the 29th due to lack of interest from others. March 1912.

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Little is known from that moment about the book that was to sail to New York next April 6, but instead ended up being the next, the RMS Titanic, which departed Southampton on April 10, 1912. .

According to Don Lynch, historian of the Titanic Historical Society, it was probably handed over to 27-year-old Harry Elkins Whitner, who hails from a wealthy Pennsylvania family and traveled to London to buy books. Neither Whitner nor his father, who traveled with him, survived the sinking of the sea liner that killed more than 1,500 people. The precious book was also missing.

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The loss of such a precious and expensive volume – three times more than the most expensive quantity for sale in a bookstore, he said. BBC The current manager, Chris Sanders – has created a lot of tension between Stonehouse on the one hand and Sangorsky and Sutcliffe on the other. Things got even worse at the bookbinding workshop on July 1, 1912, when 37-year-old Sangorsky drowned while on vacation with his family in Sussex.

Sutcliffe continued the workshop with his son-in-law Stanley Bray, who in 1932 was inspired by Sangorsky’s original drawings and embellished a new work. To protect the new copy from possible bombings, the book was placed in the basement of a building on Four Street, although it was one of the first streets in London to be bombed. BlitzA series of airstrikes by Germans on the British capital between 1940 and 1941.

The box in which the book was inserted was found to be intact, but the heat of the fire caused by the blast melted part of the leather cover and burned most of its sides.

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In 1945, after the end of World War II, Pray began the third phase of the work, using several precious stones recovered from a copy damaged in the bombings. Having little time to devote himself to it, he finished it in the eighties and is now retired, estimating that he has worked more than 4 thousand hours in total. Currently a copy of Brain “Great Omar” It is housed in the British LibraryPermission to view it is very rarely granted.

– read more: The true story of the Titanic

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