The Oldest Thing I Own

Three years ago the owner of a Vancouver antique book shop and I made a trade: a miniature volume of Hamlet for a set of endpapers cut from a very old book.  The book was published in 1746, so the endpapers are at least that old.  Hand marbled in pink, navy, white and sepia, they are barely touched by time having been safely preserved between the covers (which must have been ruined, otherwise the pages would not have been cut out).  These two papers, once one, are easily the oldest thing I own (unless you count fossils).

I’ve only used a tiny piece from one of the papers, to make a book cover for a cousin who has a passion for history.  It will have to be a very special book binding project that needs my most irreplaceable paper.



Paper marbling is something of a lost art.  Done the old way, it requires some serious chemicals in secret recipes.  There are some modern products that I hope to try.  If you’re interested in how it’s done, look up Ebru on youtube.  You’ll be enthralled 🙂


4 thoughts on “The Oldest Thing I Own

  1. Deb says:

    Old books can be amazing things. I have a book from 1860 where the pictures are prints with onion skin paper protecting each of them. The cover is also heavily textured like carved fabric. This was from a used book store in Liverpool in the UK.

    • art3g says:

      Like so many things of old, books were once made to last foreve :). My favourites are books with doodles in the margins (even though you’re NEVER supposed to do that!). I bought one at a garage sale that had a negative of a young man off to war. I hope the photo was precious to someone before it was forgotten.

  2. linnetmoss says:

    Very beautiful. I was thinking of blogging about some of my marbled endpapers in my old books and now you have inspired me 😉

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