Cut ornament

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Book with head cut

Cut ornaments are ornaments of the book section , the cut edges of a book block . In addition to aesthetic reasons, the decorations primarily serve to protect against soiling.


With the cut decoration, one or more edges of the finished book block are coated with paint, a thin layer of metal, graphite or the like. The cover must be designed so that the individual pages do not stick to one another. Due to the damp application of paint, the paper fibers swell and seal the book block. There are both pure head cuts (only upper edge) and three-sided cut decorations (also below and in front).


All three pages of the book block are exposed to soiling: The head cut (upper edge) gets dusty on the shelf , the foot (bottom) gets dirty and rubbed off when you put the book down, the front cut becomes greasy from the hands when turning the pages, and yellowed when there is too much light The paper: Cut decorations protect with the extra layer applied and make discoloration of the paper less noticeable. Furthermore, the ornament - especially if it is a gold or silver cut - is used to emphasize or increase the value of the book.


Book block with gilt edging on three sides
Book block with three-sided decoration in black

Cut decorations have their origin in the cut title : “This is the early modern process of writing the title on one of the book cut surfaces and placing the book with this surface on the shelf for the viewer. But after the books were set with the spine facing the viewer, the decoration of the book cut surfaces began. ”So many different techniques and materials were used and there were seldom uniform colors. Usually the already colored cut was decorated with paintings, stamps or ornaments . These elaborate decorations practically no longer exist today. Today mostly only the top cut is colored, often to increase the recognition value of a publisher or a special series .


Metal cuts

  • Gold cut : For a gold cut, the cut edges of a book block are provided with gold leaf . For this purpose, the firmly pressed book block is sanded smooth at the cut edges and polished, often first provided with a red color cut for better luminosity, then covered with an adhesive liquid traditionally made from diluted egg white and then very carefully placed the gold leaf. After drying, the gilt edging is polished to a high gloss with a smooth tooth (round tool made of polished agate ). “Gold plating takes a lot of practice. The gold cut is particularly difficult to apply in the hollow cut . The quality, beauty and shine of the gold cut depend on the type of gold, the paper of the book and the care taken in the work. "
  • Silver cut : The production is similar to that of gold cut (see above).
  • Chased metal cuts
  • Chased and painted metal cuts

Color cuts

Books with marbled front cuts
Color cut
Color cut, produced with a fully automatic and digital color cut machine
Book with blue head color cut and hand mark

For the color cut , one or more cut pages of the book are decorated with colors. The finished book block, after being trimmed by the three-knife trimmer , is fed manually or by means of a machine over a roller with paint. The color is only transferred to the edges of the sheet and colors the outer section of the block accordingly. There are many different ways and techniques to color the book cut. Here are some variants:

  • Sprinkle or blast cut : To make a blast cut, a brush soaked with the desired color is passed over a sieve that is held over the cut to be decorated. As a result, the book cut is sprinkled with different sized dots of color. In modern procedures, a spray gun is used.
  • Marble cut : One or more edges of the finished book block are covered with a pattern that looks similar to marble . The marbling is produced by applying different colors to a slime base in a shallow basin. Using a wire pen, the colors are then drawn in certain directions so that a pattern is created. The cutting edge is immersed in this basin. The streak pattern from the basin is transferred to the cut edge and thus results in the marbling. Marble paper is also produced in a similar way and is used , among other things, as a cover for half volumes. The marble cut is still used today, but it has gone out of fashion. On the one hand, it is sometimes perceived as old-fashioned, on the other hand, it is a complex procedure that can fail if there is a lack of practice or caution. Different types of marbling: peacock marble, stone marble, bouquet marble, comb marble, etc. a. m.
  • Decal : For a decal , the book cut is decorated with a type of decal . A cut piece of paper with an image carrier is moistened and placed on the cut. Then the paper layer is peeled off. The color of the image carrier then combines with the paper of the book and adorns the cut. Since it is a very complex and time-consuming process, the peel-off cut is only used for special books.
  • Chalk section : In order to obtain a chalk-section, first, a fine layer of chalk scraped to the carrying section. Then, as with the blast cut (see above), paint is sprayed on through a sieve . Chalk as a base creates the impression of marble.
  • Shifted cut or fore-edge painting : For a shifted cut, the book cut is provided with an image (motifs include landscapes, cityscapes, biblical scenes) that can only be seen when the book is opened. The book cut is painted in the fanned out state. "The edges of the sheet are shifted minimally to one another, so that a narrow strip is exposed on the side of each sheet, which is a fraction of a millimeter wide." When the book is closed, nothing of the painting can be seen. The first motifs were painted on books using this technique as early as the 16th century by the Italian painter Cesare Vecellio (1521–1601), a cousin of Titian .
    • A distinction can be made between single, double and triple shifted cuts. If the picture is only visible when you bend the book pages in one direction, you have the simple variant. If an image is also visible when bending to the other side, there is a double variant. With the triple cut, an image is attached to the unshifted pages in addition to the double.
    • Fore-edge printing enables a narrow strip of an (image) original to be printed on the edge of the sheet at the same time as normal text. This idea was patented in the USA on April 11, 2000 as " Method of printing on the edge of a book "
  • White or natural cut : A natural cut is a book cut that has not been colored in any way, but has the same color as the paper.
  • Digital printing : With a fully automatic and digital color cutting machine e.g. B. for industrial production, the printing process is possible from four sides in a fully automatic sequence. The books are pre-stacked on a separate device during the printing process. The complete stack is loaded into the clamping device in the loading / unloading station. The printing process takes place in the single-pass process and enables high performance. Format-specific clamping plates enable quick format changes. A resolution of 1600 × 1600 dpi is achieved.

Color and foil cuts for various printed products

In addition to business cards, invitation and wedding cards, the color and foil cut is also used for compliment cards, image cards, greeting cards, Christmas cards, postcards, hangtags, vouchers, menu cards, admission tickets and much more.

With color cutting, the color is applied either with a spray gun, a roller or a sponge due to the different types of natural paper. Many highly pigmented and brilliant full tone colors can be used for the colored paper edges from the color cut. For example, all commercially available printing inks for uncoated paper types.

In this traditional bookbinding art, the refinement of the gold and foil cut as a cut decoration is carried out with a foil. During the production of the cut finishing, the film is applied to the pressed cut with a hot roller. In addition to the gold and silver cut, there are also large assortments of various colors available. Optionally with or without metallic sheen.

See also


  • Rainer Groothuis: How do books come to earth? About publishers and authors, manufacturers, sellers and designers, the calculation and the retail price, the beautiful book and related things. 2nd completely revised edition. DuMont, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-7701-3164-9 .
  • Helmut Hiller, Stephan Füssel: Dictionary of the book. 6th fundamentally revised edition. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-465-03220-9 .
  • Ursula Rautenberg (Hrsg.): Reclams Sachlexikon des Buches. Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-010542-0 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. after Rautenberg: Reclam's dictionary of the book . P. 448.
  2. after Hiller, Füssel: Dictionary of the book . P. 141.
  3. a b Durrer Spezialmaschinen AG | DIGI-B. Retrieved July 6, 2020 .
  4. after Rautenberg: Reclam's dictionary of the book . P. 223.
  5. Cesare Vecellio Info  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  6. Method of printing on the edge of a book
  7. by Frank Lohmann: Durrer: Digi-B for digital printing of the book cut. August 16, 2018, accessed on July 6, 2020 (German).
  8. bindereport - trade magazine / trade journal for bookbinding and print processing: color cutting industrially produced. Retrieved July 6, 2020 .
  9. What is a color cut? The color cut is a cut ornament with colored edges and an old and traditional bookbinding art.
  10. What is a gold and foil cut? The variants with the high-gloss metallic and highly pigmented color foils are called foil cuts.