Edges are marbled, after making the desired pattern on the trough, by holding the book firmly, pressing the edge on the colour and lifting it up sharply. The foredge must be made flat by knocking the book on its back, but it is as well to tie the book between a pair of backing-boards, so that it may not slip, especially if large. Care must be taken with books that have many plates, or if the paper is at all of a spongy nature or unsized. If a little cold water be thrown on the edges, it will cause the colours to set better. In marbling writing paper, a sponge with a little alum water should be used to take off the gloss from the edge, occasioned by the cutting knife, and to assist the marbling colour to take better.
Paper is marbled in the same way by holding it at 2 corners, then gently putting it on the colour and pressing it evenly, but gently all over, so that the colour may take on every part. It must be lifted carefully, as the least shake by disturbing the size will spoil the regularity of the pattern. Paper should be damped overnight and left with a weight on the top. When the paper has been marbled and is dry, a rag with a little beeswax or soap should be rubbed over it, so that the burnisher may not stick, and to give a finer gloss; this applies also to the edges in burnishing. Marble paper manufacturers burnish the paper with a piece of polished flint or glass fixed in a long pole working in a socket at the top, the other end resting on a table which is slightly hollowed, so that the segment of the circle which the flint takes is exactly that of the hollow table. The paper is laid on the hollow table, and the burnisher is worked backwards and forwards until the desired gloss is attained. By the best and latest method, the paper is passed between highly polished cylinders.
Paper should be sized after being marbled. The size is made by dissolving 1 lb. best glue in 5 gal. water with 1/2 lb. best white soap. This is put into a copper overnight, and on a low fire the next morning, keeping it constantly stirred to prevent burning. When quite dissolved and hot, it is run through a cloth into a trough, and each sheet is passed through the liquor and hung up to dry; when dry, burnished as already described. It is generally cheaper to buy the paper than to make it.
Following is a method of transferring the pattern from marble paper to the edges of books: - Wring the book up tightly in the press, the edge to be as flat as possible; cut strips of the best marble paper about 1 in. longer than the edge; make a pad of old paper larger than the edge of the book, and about 1/4 in. thick; then get a piece of blotting paper and a sponge with a little water in; now pour on a plate sufficient spirits of salts (muriatic acid) to saturate the paper, which must be placed marble side downwards on the spirit (not dipped in it); when soaked, put it on the edge (which has been previously damped with a sponge), lay your blot paper on it, then your pad, now rap it smartly all over, take off the pad and blot, and look if the work is right, if so, take the book out, and shake the marble paper off; When dry, burnish.
A gilt edge is the most elegant of all modes of ornamenting edges, and this branch of bookbinding has from time to time been so greatly extended, that at the present day there are many ways in which a book may have the edges gilt. Thus there are "plain gilt," then "gilt in the round"; again, some colour under the gold, for instance "gilt on red," or whatever the colour may be, red being mostly used, especially for religious books. Some edges are "tooled," and some have a gilt edge with landscape or scene appropriate to the book painted on the edge, only to be seen when the book is opened. "Marbling under gilt" may also be used with good effect; but still better "marbling on gilt."
This may be purchased ready for use, or it may be made by covering a piece of wood, about 12 in. by 6, with a piece of white calf, the rough side outwards, and padding with blotting paper and cloth. The pieces underneath should be cut a little smaller than the upper one, so that it will form a bevel at the edge, but quite flat on the top. The calf to be neatly nailed all round the edge. If the pile of the leather is too rough, it can be reduced with a piece of pumice, by rubbing on the calf with a circular motion.
This should be a long knife of thin steel, the blade about 1-1 1/2 in. wide.
These are made of agate, and can be purchased of any size. A flat one, and 2 or 3 round ones, will be found sufficient. They should have a very high polish.
The white of an egg and a tea-cup full of water are well beaten together, until the albumen is perfectly dissolved; then allowed to stand for some hours to settle; after which, it should be strained through a piece of old linen.
Pieces of steel, with the edge or burr made to turn up by rubbing the edge flat over a bodkin or other steel instrument, so that when applied to the edge a thin shaving of paper is taken off. The beauty of gilding depends greatly on proper and even scraping.
This is bought in books, the price, according to quality; most of the cheap gold comes from Germany. Use the best that can be had, it being in the end the cheapest, as cheap gold turns black in time by the action of the atmosphere.