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 🙂