Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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gauffered edges ( gauffred, gaufré, goffered )

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 )




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