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Sangorski's Songs and Sonnets

Among the most beautifully designed and handcrafted books of the twentieth century is this work by Alberto Sangorski, a master craftsman in the esteemed London bookbinding firm of Riviere & Son.


On December 23, 1926, the Times Literary Supplement reported, "He has just completed . . . a richly illuminated manuscript of Shakespeare's Songs and Sonnets, [which] has been in hand for five years, and every detail, designing, engrossing, illumination, painting and binding has been done by Mr. Sangorski."


No expense was spared in the choice of materials. Passages from the works of Shakespeare are written in an exquisite calligraphic hand on the finest vellum, with 23-karat gold leaf in the illuminations. Each page is interleaved with moiré silk.


The front cover of the binding has sapphires in the corners and incorporates Shakespeare's coat of arms in 18-karat gold, embellished with a ruby and black and blue enamels. Henry Clay Folger bought the book soon after it was finished.

Alberto Sangorski. Songs and Sonnets by William Shakespeare. Manuscript, 1926

Alberto Sangorski. Songs and Sonnets by William Shakespeare. Manuscript, 1926

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Infinite Variety
To find similar stories about other items from the Folger collection, look for Infinite Variety: Exploring the Folger Shakespeare Library.

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