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[BKARTS] False deckled edges

Sheets of paper hand-made in the western tradition always have a rough, deckled edge on all four sides, caused when the sheets are couched (i.e. taken off the wire molds on which they were formed by pressing them down, one at a time, on felt pads); cf


If the deckle fits poorly on its mold, the deckled edge of the paper produced will be more pronounced. Cf the Twinrocker Handmade Paper website on this subject:

"Only handmade papers have four truly natural deckled edges. (Machine-made papers can only imitate a deckled edge.) In 1973, Twinrocker designed a decorative, exaggerated 'Feather' deckle which is recognized world-wide as unique to us." -cf


During the hand-press period before 1800 or so, the deckled edges typically remained part of the sheet through the printing press, though they were often sliced off with a binder's plough during the binding process.

Machine-made paper made in a continuous roll begins to become common in the second decade of the c19. Except for specialty papers, the side deckles on machine-made paper are always cut off during the course of sheet formation. If you want machine-made paper with a deckled edge on all four sides, you need to roughen or otherwise tamper with the edges of a rectangular sheet in order to produce the desired effect. Back to this in a minute, but first a sidebar on moldmade paper.
Moldmade paper, produced for generally upmarket purposes toward the end of the c19 and extending throughout much of the c20, was produced on a mesh drum divided into compartments functioning like deckles. The deckled edges of moldmade paper is much more even and regular than that found on handmade paper, but it is a true deckle. Cf http://painting.about.com/od/watercolourpainting/ss/watercolorpaper_4.htm for an illustration of a moldmade deckled edge, on a sheet of Fabriano watercolor paper. Moldmade papers were quite commonly used on the sort of Grolier Society/urFranklin Mint books you mention.
Back to artificial deckled edges created on machine-made paper. Commercially, they are commonly created by using a jet of water to slice through a newly-formed sheet of machine-made paper (there are other methods, as well).

At the hobby level, deckled edges may be created using a simple dual edge ripper: cf

Dard Hunter was no friend of artificial deckle edges: cf


"Misconception" is a bit harsh, perhaps: faux isn't necessarily bad. Some of the stone and plaster decorations on and in Jefferson's Rotunda at UVa are an hommage to mortice-and-tenon jointing and other construction techniques used in the construction of early wood Greek temples!

Is this enough to go on? Regards from CLT. -tb

At 02:19 PM 2/28/2009, you wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
I have a related question. From time to time I encounter (as a bookseller)
late 19th-early 20th C books that have obviously "faux" deckled edges. In
particular, I took on a collection of books for a friend that his
grandfather had acquired in the early 1900s when he built a new house and
"furnished" a library. There were many sets of "Limited Edition" books from
publishers such as the Grolier Society and other Franklin Mint types of the
day....lavish looking productions using cheap papers, chemically-produced
"marbled" endpapers, inexpensive leather, and so forth. The Limited stuff
was nonsense: if an edition sold out, they just changed up something like
the binding color and issued another "Limited" edition with a different
name - author's edition, autograph edition, and so on. None-the-less, some
of these sets sold for very good money to gullible people who wanted an
impressive library on their bookshelves. Some actually had top edge gilding,
others did not. Some had gilded tops and "deckled" fore and foot edges.

BUT - it's the business of the "deckled" edges that raises the question.
This often looks like a machine grinding of the page edges. The first time I
saw this on some books, I thought perhaps some individual was dressing up
his library by running the page edges through a saw or router of some kind
to make them look more impressive. Now I have seen enough examples from
various sources to suspect that it was yet another publisher/binder trick
that was standard for a certain type of book. In the worst cases, some of
the ground-off paper clings in the grooves, and some of the grooves are very
distinct and tend to end before the foot of the text block edge leaving a
kind of abrupt second-pass line.

Needless to say, this is a terrible dust-catcher and also prone to tearing
if pages are turned carelessly - a useless "enhancement."

Does anyone know if it's true that this was intentionally machined, and if
so what kind of saw/grinder was used, and for how long this misconception

Thanks, Lee

Lee Kirk
Cats are composed of Matter, Anti-Matter, and It Doesn't Matter

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