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Gauffering is a form of edge decoration where the edges of the
book are impressed with hot finishing tools to leave a design
over the gilded edges.  One can leave an impression over a plain
(ungilded) edge but this is not common.
I have seen many examples of gauffered edges on Ilalian, French,
German books and some English books in collections in Europe,
mainly on books of the late 16th and 17th century.  Henri II of
France favoured this form of decoration as did Queen Elizabeth I
of England.  The tools used were normally pointille (made up of
small dots) rather than solid lines.
There are German examples where an impression was made then a
portion of the gold was scraped off with a sharp knife and the
image coloured in.  This can be seen in German  17th century
bindings were elaborate coats of arms were worked on the edges of
the book in gold and colour.  I learned the technique at the
London College of Printing where we were taught how to build up a
coloured flower and leaf motif over a gilded edge.
The technique is to gild the edges as usual (solid gilt not rough
gilt) and to screw the textblock up tightly in a press and apply
the heated finishing tools to the edge of the book.  A fair
amount of pressure is required and the technique works better on
harder papers than soft ones.  You must be careful that the tool
is not too hot nor the dwell too long.  I hope this is of some
help to you.

Joe Landry
J. Landry,
Leaf by Leaf Book and Paper
Conservation Services,
Halifax, N.S., Canada.

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