Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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goldbeater's skin

The prepared outer coat of the caecum of the ox (or other cattle), which is the blind pouch or sac in which the large intestine begins. The gut is soaked in a dilute solution of potassium hydroxide, washed, stretched, beaten flat and thin, and treated chemically to prevent putrefaction. It is then stretched tightly and cemented together, back to back, leaving the clear, smooth, veinless inside of the caecum exposed. The SHODER and MOLD stages of GOLDBEATING are built up with these double skins of the ox. A mold of 1,000 pieces of goldbeater's skin requires the gut of about 400 oxen, and is only 1 inch thick when assembled. The pack is built up by interleaving the skins with leaves of gold. Goldbeater's skin is also used in the repair of holes and tears of vellum. (29 )

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