Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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deckle edge

The feather edge or edges of a sheet of paper formed where the stock flows against the deckle, or, in handmade papers, by the stock flowing between the frame and the deckle of the mold. A simulated deckle edge may also be formed by means of a jet of water or air. Handmade paper usually has four deckle edges and machinemade paper, two; however, a machinemade paper can be manufactured with four simulated deckle edges. An "imitation" deckle edge is one produced on a dry sheet of paper by such means as tearing, cutting with a special type of knife that gives a deckle edge effect, sand blasting, sawing, etc.

Early printers looked upon the deckle edge as a defect, and almost invariably trimmed most of it off before binding; however, collectors wanted to see traces of the "deckle" as proof that the book had not been trimmed excessively, or CROPPED (1 , 2 ), as deep trimming was a notorious practice particularly in the 17th century (and even to this day). In the latter part of the 19th century, it became the fashion to admire the deckle edge for its own sake, and to leave books printed on handmade paper untrimmed. This left the book with ragged edges that collected dust, were unsightly (to some), and difficult to turn. In modern books, deckle edges are largely an affectation, and entirely so if the book is printed on machine-made paper. (17 , 82 , 94 , 102 )

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