In a time when books weren't kicked out of presses by the millions, books made to last were traditionally covered in gold leaf at the top, bottom and side edges of the pages. Not only did this communicate the importance and handcraft of the book, but it also created a metallic finish which protected the pages themselves from corrosive dust. Later, this practice was often confined to where the dust actually settles, on the top edge of a book. The tops of books gilded in this way can be dusted. Then came the purely decorative practice of dyeing the top edge of a book, adding a bit of color to communicate the artfulness of the volume.  I occasionally find a paperback with color around the whole edge, but no-one (that I've seen) does it as beautifully as J&L Illustrated, with their heavily saturated edges that soak well into the page (see last image.)

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the post! i can't repeat it often enough: i love your blog!