We Love Endpapers

Posted on 15th January 2021 by simonbeattie

A German brocade paper, as endpapers on a French almanac from 1775

Workwise, this past year has really been a case of making it through. So it’s been really heartening to see another creation of mine, the Facebook group We Love Endpapers thrive. Set it up in May 2016, and the subject of an article in The Guardian a couple of years ago, it now has almost 6000 members.

My only motive, if it was a motive, for starting the group was that I know various people in the rare book world who say “those are nice endpapers”, or “look at these” at a book fair or whatever.  Take 18th-century German paste paper.  Everyone loves it.  I know I do, particularly that wonderful Prussian blue. 

A German Herrnhut-style paste paper, as endpapers on a copy of J. G. Naumann’s opera, Cora, 1780.

The fact that these patterned papers are inside the covers of the book means that the colours are still as fresh as when they were made over 200 years ago.  Anyway, I thought a Facebook group would be a good forum for people to share pictures of attractive endpapers as and when they came across them.  Initially, I intended it to be just for bookseller and librarian friends of mine, and called it “Endpaper Porn”.  However, I then thought a) that might attract people looking for something else and b), when I thought that others might be interested in it, the name should be something a bit nicer.  Hence, We Love Endpapers.  Some people post more than others, of course, but I hope members of the group like what they see, and maybe even learn something, too, in the process.

They needn’t be old books either.  Anything goes, as you’ll see from the pictures posted.  I try and post a nice 18th-century gem now and then, but really it’s the breadth of the books pictured which fascinates.  It’s become a forum for those interested in the history of decorated paper (and there are posts of decorated papers which aren’t technically being used as endpapers, but no matter); special collections libraries sometimes post questions as to how a particular paper was created and there are enough experts in the group that they usually get an answer pretty quickly.  But more widely the group has led to people simply looking differently at the books they own.

If you’re on Facebook, do join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WeLoveEndpapers

A French block-printed paper on a copy of Matricul for Land-Etatens Laegder, Copenhagen, 1777

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