Those of us who are true book geeks suffer from an obsessive fascination with all aspects of books. We don’t just like reading books, or collecting books, we love the physicality of books. Some of us are into book covers. Others nerd out over typography or book design. And most of us can spend hours just looking at antiquarian volumes.
One of the quirkiest aspects of books is the addition of endpapers, or free end papers. With few exceptions, endpapers are not actually part of the printed book. In most cases, they are double leaves that are added to the front and the back of the volume by the bookbinder. The outer leaf of each is pasted to the inside surface of the book cover and the inner leaves form the first and last pages of the book when it’s bound.
Up until the 17th century, books very rarely had end papers. During the latter part of the century, it became fashionable for binders to add elaborate, marbled endpapers. By the 19th century, it was common to find endpapers made-up of illustrations, maps, colorful papers, publisher’s advertisements, or even silk. Many modern books have wonderfully designed endpapers that often demonstrate contemporary styles in art and design.