Luckily the bookbinding curator at the British Library doesnt believe in evil omens. However the fortunes of the bejewelled copy of Omar Khayyams Rubaiyat, recently acquired by the library, should give her pause for thought.

The book, known as the Great Omar, has led a traumatic existence: having been sunk with the Titanic, it was destroyed by bombs during World War II and its bookbinder drowned soon after finishing the elaborate binding.

The bookbinder in question was a certain Francis Sangorski, of the English firm of Sangorski & Sutcliffe. In 1912 he finally completed the first binding of the Rubaiyat after two years of research and intricate inlay and gold leaf work. The book was sold to an American and shipped to him on the Titanic and six weeks after completing the binding, Francis Sangorski also went to a watery grave in the sea off the coast of Sussex. A second version was prepared by Sutcliffes nephew, Stanley Bray, who based his recreation of the magnificent cover on the original designs prepared by Sangorski. It took him 6 years, working in his spare time. Unfortunately world war two broke out and despite the fact that it was locked in a safe, the book was destroyed in a London air raid in 1941. The third and final version, which Bray took 4,000 hours to finish and which he completed in 1989, has now hopefully found a safe haven in the British Librarys Treasure Gallery.