Brocade paper

Acquired from B.M. Israel Boekhandel & Antiquariaat, Amsterdam
Acquisition: 1997
Date: Ca. 1790
Size: 42 x 35 cm.
Shelfmark: PC.C BRO ISR 01

Brocade paper is one of the rarest and most valuable types of eighteenth century decorated paper. The paper was on occasions used for book covers, as still can be seen for instance on old dissertations. A distinctive feature of brocade paper is an embossed structure pressed into the paper using real or imitation gold. Vines with flowers and fruits, animals, birds, saints and geometric forms are just a few examples of the vast array of patterns used. Prior to printing, colour was often applied to the paper, either plain or a coloured design using stencils. As a rule, the brocade paper maker's name and city of residence were added to the margin of the printing plate, making it possible to identify the origin of many brocade papers. The fascinating combination of paper, pattern, colour and gleaming gold in relief makes brocade paper an attractive and popular collector's item.
In 1997, the Amsterdam antiquarian bookseller Max Israel offered his private collection of brocade paper for sale to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.

He had started collecting during his childhood and up until then had never sold an item. As he was getting on in years, he was looking for a good home for his papers. He felt that the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, with its distinguished special collection of decorated paper, which had already accepted other private collections, was the most appropriate institution that could guarantee proper storage, attention and accessibility. The Israel collection contains over one hundred brocade papers in outstanding physical condition, which is rather exceptional considering the vulnerability of brocade papers. The addition of these sheets considerably helped to fill the existing gaps in the brocade paper collection. With this acquisition, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek now has one of the most complete collections of brocade paper in the world. Making it accessible to the public provides a valuable research tool to paper, book and art historians. (HP)