Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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colored edges

The edge or edges of a book that have been decorated with water colors or dyes applied to the edge or edges and usually burnished. The colors are generally mixed with thin glue and edge gilding size. The most commonly used colors are red, yellow, green, and blue; brown, black and pink have also been employed. If only one edge is colored, it is usually at the head.

Coloring the edges of books appears to be virtually as old as the codex itself, the earliest known example being purple edges on a 4th century book. Red, ochre, and yellow were often used in the 15th to 17th centuries, while solid red edges sprinkled with yellow were popular in the first half of the 16th century. Colored edges have been common to the present day in miscellaneous binding and from the late 19th century on edition bindings.

Although the coloring of edges appears to be purely for decorative effect, its actual function has always been to protect the edges from dust, dirt, and handling. See also: ANTIQUE EDGES ;FORE-EDGE PAINTING ;GILT EDGES ;MARBLED EDGES ;RED UNDER GOLD EDGES ;ROUGH GILT ;


(161 , 236 , 335 , 343 )

Primary colors are: red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors, derived
from primary colors, are:
    Primary Colors          Secondary Colors
        red and yellow          orange
        yellow and blue         green
        red and blue            purple
Tertiary colors, derived by combining primary and secondary colors, are:
    Primary Colors          Secondary Colors    Tertiary Colors
        red and yellow          orange              citrine
         yellow and blue         green
         red and yellow          orange               russet
         red and blue            purple
         yellow and blue         green                olive
         red and blue            purple

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