Decorative paper: bound to be beautiful

In bookmaking, decorative paper was once frequently used for covers or endpapers (the first sheets of thick paper that are glued to the cover and protect the book block, like a vestibule to the first “real” pages).

In the 18th century, decorative paper reached Europe at the height of its refined, artistic beauty. Unfortunately, it is now part of a long-lost tradition.

The most important paper manufacturers in Italy were in Bassano del Grappa (were the Remondinis, a noted family of typographers, were active until the 19th century), Naples, Rome, Florence, and Bologna.

Decorative paper could be xylographed (the oldest technique), gilded (embossed or not, it was a favorite in Germany), marbleized (another traditional method), or decorated with flour glue-based colors: in any case, its hues and patterns were a burst of beauty every time you opened the book. What a wonderful way to start a new read!

Here is a selection of 18th-century xylographed and gilded papers.

March 12, 2014