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The beauty and symbolism of gold, from the Early Bronze Age to the 20th century

Church of England. Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer, and administration of The Sacraments ... 1842

RCIN 1123511

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This prayer book belonged to Queen Victoria and was used in the private chapel at Windsor Castle. While gold-coloured paint features in the background of the pictorial binding, and gold-coloured metal is used for the furniture and clasp, it is the book's edges which show the most spectacular use of gold. The edges have been gilded using gold leaf, and then goffered to achieve a decorative pattern. This is achieved by applying heated finishing tools to the gilded edge in order to indent them with small, repeated patterns, resulting in a textured finish. Each edge also contains a central roundel with quatrefoil which has been stamped with Queen Victoria's monogram: VR. Gilding the edges of a book was not only for decoration, as the gold acted as a buffer and prevented dust from entering the book.

Catalogue entry from Gold, London, 2014.