January 10, 2015 in 

Regarding books and publishing, “foxed” describes the condition of paper or book pages that have developed brown spots or blotches. These unsightly marks result from iron particles in the paper oxidizing over time due to exposure to moisture, humidity, or other environmental factors. Interestingly, the term “foxing” originates from an old English word meaning to become discolored. While foxing generally doesn’t affect the readability of a book, it may diminish its aesthetic appeal for collectors and bibliophiles.

Foxing refers to discolored or stained paper. It is usually caused by light exposure, although other environmental factors like humidity or pollution can also contribute. Foxing can present on either side of a sheet but is most commonly found on the reverse.

The presence of foxing often adds value to old books, documents, maps, and artworks as it contributes to their vintage appearance. However, complete removal of foxing is challenging and only sometimes feasible. If you are concerned about preserving an item’s value, seeking professional guidance before attempting removal techniques is advisable.

On another note entirely unrelated to paper staining, “foxed” takes on a different meaning when discussing printing and publishing processes. It pertains to situations where printing plates used for specific images are misaligned during production—resulting in smeared or blurred prints.

This alignment issue, called foxing, safeguards that images appear correctly without smudging. At times, it can be deliberately employed for artistic purposes, creating soft and fuzzy effects for desired visual aesthetics.

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About the author 

CJ McDaniel

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!

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