Serpentine Saturday

The wavy patterns on the edges, covers, and endpapers on this tooled and blind-stamped, half-bound book are from Carew’s Survey of Cornwall . This edition was printed in London by Thomas Bensley for J. Faulder and Rees and Curtis in 1811, although Carew’s book was originally published in 1602.  The marbled-paper pattern on this volume is what the University of Washington’s site on Patterned Papers identifies as Serpentine.

The pattern begins with a Turkish base. “A comb with one set of teeth is drawn through the bath twice vertically, once in either direction with the second pass halving the first. This step is repeated horizontally. Then the final step is to draw a comb, with one set of teeth set at slightly wider intervals, through the bath once vertically in wavy lines reminiscent of the way in which a snake moves.“ As we’ve noted before, when marbling the edges of a book, the text block is clamped tightly shut, and once dipped, the excess fluid is blown or shaken off quickly to prevent it from running into the book. Once dry, the marbled edges are burnished.

The frontispiece is a portrait of Richard Carew from 1586, rendered here as a stipple engraving by English engraver William Evans. Carew is shown holding a book with the Latin inscription Invita Morte Vita (In spite of life and death), and in the background there is an allegorical hammer and anvil with the Italian inscription Chi’verace durerà (Who is true will last).


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