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Bookbinding For Amateurs

The Various Tools and Appliances Required and Instructions for Their Effective Use by W.J.E. Crane 1888

Gilding Book Edges


Edges of books are no doubt best preserved by being gilt, and this may be done either plain or ornamented. The former process being the easier and the more general, we will describe it first.

Gilding Plain Edges -The fore edge of the book is first gilt. It is screwed as tight as possible between boards placed even with the edge in the laying-press, and then the edge is scraped perfectly smooth with a steel scraper, round on one end and Hat on the other, for the better execution of such parts as present slight inequalities of surface. After the edge is well scraped, it must be burnished with the burnished, then colored over with red bole or chalk ground in soap, rubbed immediately dry with fine clean paper shavings, and again well burnished. This gives a deeper appearance to the gilding, and hides any slight defect that a white edge at times presents.

The gold is next cut on the gold cushion to the sizes required, and each piece taken off with a small slip of paper folded with one smooth edge, or with an instrument called a tip, by rubbing it on the head and attaching the gold by gently pressing upon it.

Sometimes a piece of tissue paper (very slightly greased) is used. This is much adopted by painters in lettering facias, &c. The size (prepared with the white of an egg in three times the quantity of water, well beaten together) must then be applied evenly on the edge with a large camel-hair pencil, and the gold immediately placed thereon. Should any breaks appear in the gold, other portions must be applied with a piece of cotton wool. . A size made of writing parchment, applied warm, with six or eight drops of vitriol in a cupful of the size, is used by some gilders; but the former is more simple and equally effective.

After the edge is dry, it must be burnished lightly and carefully, to avoid rubbing off any of the gold; and the better to insure this, a piece of tissue paper should be placed on the edge during the first operation, and the edge itself afterwards burnished until it is perfectly uniform and clear. The head and tail of the volume must be gilt with the same precaution; the back towards the workman. The burnisher is worked across the leaves.

Gilding l'Antique -Should it be considered desirable to give the book the character of the period in which it was written, or an additional degree of beauty and elegance, the ornamentation of the edges may be pursued farther in the manner we shall now describe. After the edge is finished as directed, and before taking out of the press, ornaments, such as flowers or designs in compartments, may be stamped upon it in the following manner: A coat of size is passed quickly over with great precaution and lightness, and only once in a place, to avoid detaching any of the gold. When dry; rub the edge with palm oil, and cover with gold of a color different from that of the first. Then, with tools used in gilding leather, warmed in the fire, proceed to form the various designs by firmly impressing them on the edge. The gold that has not been touched by the tools is then rubbed off with a clean cotton, and there remain only the designs the tools have imprinted, which produce a fine effect. This mode is, however, now seldom used, though almost all books in the original binding of the sixteenth century are so adorned.



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