Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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gold blocking

The decorative effect produced by blocking the covers of books in gold. The practice began in the early 16th century, probably first with the use of wooden blocks, although metal blocks were also in use during the 16th century. Nearly all gold blocking of that time is very deeply impressed, possibly because of the use of soft pasteboards under the leather, and possibly because the blocking pressure was difficult to estimate accurately because the blocking had to be done in a screw press; if, under these circumstances, the block began to get too cool, very great pressure would have been required. As the impressions made were often very uneven in depth, such refinements as "make-ready" must have been un known to bookbinders of that time.

Blind lines, forming a cross, were frequently marked on the covers as recently as the early ] 9th century to assist in positioning the block precisely. The area was coated with glair, the gold leaf was laid on, the heated block was then centered on the intersection of the lines (which can usually be seen extending beyond the gilt impression), and the platen of the press was lowered onto the cover. It is quite likely that the covers were sometimes first blinded in before being blocked in gold. See also: BLOCKING PRESS . (236 )

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