Deceptive Printed “Marbled Paper” From the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Just a couple of weeks ago I saw a post from Simon Beattie about an 18th-century Russian book with “marbled” endpapers that were in reality hand-printed. Imagine my surprise when I found something similar just a few days later!

So, first things first, here is the post:

I’d recommend reading the comments as well because there are some other samples there.

The book I found was a bit newer than the ones discussed above. It’s a convolute of two volumes of Moscow in its Past and Present (“Москва в ее прошлом и настоящем”). A richly illustrated edition dedicated to the memory of the historian of Moscow Ivan Zabelin that was published in the first decade of the 20th century. However, when I saw the endpapers, my first thought was about that Facebook post from two weeks ago.

The third photo is here in case you want to see the cloth pattern in detail.

From the first sight, it seemed to me that the “marbled” endpapers weren’t made with a proper marbling process, but were printed. After a closer look, I found evidence of joining of the printing plates. You can see it in the photos below as well. The pattern is shifting ever so slightly, but as the shift appears at a full height of the sheet of paper, it becomes quite visible.

Usage of this paper is even more entertaining, as the binding services were not mandatory for this volume. There are some softcover copies surviving. However, I cannot say whether this paper is contemporary to the edition, or it was added with a later rebinding as there are no visible marks left by the binder.

If you recheck the wide-angle photos, you’ll see more of these joints. They are matched pretty well, but not perfect.

As these endpapers were the only thing of interest in this binding for me, I didn’t buy it. Especially as the price is quite a bit over my standard budget (12,000 rub is just under 200 euro.)

If you happen to be in Moscow and want to give these endpapers a closer look, the volume is still available at the old books department of the Moscow Bookstore.

Please check the original Facebook discussion to find more examples.

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