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Re: [Marbling] marbling edges of books

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  • D. Guffey
    ... Although it seems to defy logic to dip a book edge on a water bath of marbled size, that is exactly how it was done. After the book was sewn, but before
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2000
      At 07:23 AM 4/30/00 -0500, you wrote:
      >Do any of you know what the procedure is for the marbling of edges of the
      >books. I can't understand how this is done without the paper becoming wavey
      >or showing evidence of having been wet.

      Although it seems to defy logic to dip a book edge on a water bath of
      marbled size, that is exactly how it was done. After the book was sewn, but
      before it was cased (covers attached) the book was clamped shut and each
      edge was dipped down on the marbled pattern. Because the edges were so
      tightly held together the water did not seep between the pages.

      In Richard Wolfe's book "Marbled Paper Its History, Techniques, and
      Patterns" he noted "Early in the 17th century French binders began to marble
      the edges of their finest bookbinding productions as a way of complementing
      and enhancing the marbled endpapers. This novel technique consisted of
      dipping the smooth book edges, usually clamped between wooden boards, onto
      the colors on the bath, one edge after the other. Sometimes the binders
      went one step further, gilding over the marbled decoration so that it
      emerged magically when the fore-edge was fanned."

      The purpose of edge marbling (besides decorative) was it helped hide wear on
      frequently used reference books. Marbled edges were also used on ledgers as
      a security measure, if a page was removed it would result in a disruption of
      the marbled pattern and you would know the ledger had been tampered with.

      Phoebe Easton's book "Marbling A History and Bibliography" records another
      method of marbled edges from 187l. "Put the book in a press, making the
      edges as flat as possible. Cut a strip of the best marbled paper one inch
      longer than the book edge. Make a pad of paper larger than the book edge
      and one quarter inch thick. Have a piece of blotting paper and a damp
      sponge. Pour spirits of salt (muriatic acid) on a plate and saturate the
      marble paper, face down. Place marbled paper on the book edge, which has
      been dampened with a sponge. Lay on the blotting paper and the pad. Rap
      smartly all over, check to see if the pattern has been transferred. If so,
      relase the book, let dry and then burnish."

      A number of years ago I purchased some thick note pads which were glue
      padded on the top. I then marbled the three remaining sides with no trouble
      just holding the pad tightly with my fingers as a dipped (in a roll manner)
      rotating from left to right in one motion (left side of pad, bottom, right
      side of pad). As I brought the pad off the marbling bath I didn't rinse (as
      you would marbled paper) but just blotted the excess size on paper towels.
      I tried marbling the glued edge, but that was a failure, so I glued marbled
      paper (same pattern as the edges) along the glued edge. It is necessary to
      put the pads in a book press (or weight them down) until completely dry, or
      the edges will ripple.

      Before you attempt to marble book edges, you can experiment with note pads
      for very little expense, plus the fun of amazing your friends with your
      talent! It's really easier than it looks.

      Have fun,

      d. guffey
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