Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology Hardcover – 1 Jan 1982
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For the book collector, this is a useful reference for decoding book descriptions. For the bookbinder, it is even more valuable. Old reference works for bookbinding often contain terms and descriptions of techniques that are no longer in use, or have evolved over time. If one is attempting to teach oneself a technique, and don't ask me how I know, there is often enough information to at least point one in the right direction. While much of the information in this Dictionary is available online, I find having the physical book in hand to be vastly preferable. The book lends itself to browsing. The internet is a great resource for finding immediate answers to questions. But what if you don't know the question? Leafing through the pages of this book will give you a lifetime of questions, ideas, and inspirations. You may find that an odd definition leads to a new fascination.
Let's say, for example, that you have run across something called a "fanfare" binding and wonder what in the world that means. You look up the term, and notice a reference to a color plate. Wow, beautiful! And the description of the plate image particularly calls your attention to the "gauffered edge". What's that? "The edges of a book, usually gilded, which have been decorated further by means of heated finishing tools or rolls which indent small repeating patterns. Gauffering is most successful on a book printed on hard paper and gilt solid. It may be done directly on the gold, or by laying a different colored gold over the first, and tooling over the top gold, leaving the pattern in the new gold impressed on the original metal. The effect of gauffering is sometimes enhanced by scraping away parts of the gold and then staining the white paper showing through. While this technique was used by a number of European bookbinders, it was especially associated with German bookbinding of the 16th century. The use of color on the edges of books bound in England was less frequent and more restrained. Plain gauffering was done well into the 17th century, usually on embroidered bindings, but appears to have declined sharply after 1650 or so. It was then revived and exploited from the end of the 18th century onwards, and was especially popular in the latter half of the 19th century, when it was found on elaborately bound devotional and other books.
Almost all gauffering was done with pointillé tools, or, as in many examples, the designs were built up with repeated impressions of a large dot. Pointillé tools, as well as those cut in outline, produce delicate effects and are more easily impressed on a hard paper surface than are solid tools. The term comes from the French word for honeycomb, and also applies to the practice of crimping or fluting cloth with heated gauffering irons. See PLATE VI . (236 , 335 , 343 )"
Now you have a description of "gauffered edge" along with some very useful information and more photographs. You have learned that if you wish to attempt this technique, you should work on a book with hard paper pages. You might need to work on your gilding skills in order to obtain a good starting surface. You know what kind of tools would be suitable. You know that the surface can be further treated with scraping and coloring. Thinking about edge coloring techniques, you imagine ways in which you could incorporate this technique to give different effects. Now, you can go back online and search for more information about edge coloring, gauffering, marbling, gilding ... and likely find good instructions as well as inspirational images.
If you are not a bookbinder, you have learned that you can find more examples of gauffering on 16th century German books, and it's back to image search for a pleasant wasted hour, I mean educational experience, of viewing examples of early bookbinding. Anyone with an interest in books - in collecting them, restoring or repairing them, binding them, or just learning about them - will find this an invaluable and indispensable reference work to have on hand.