This is part of a series discussing The Theory of the Leisure Class, by Thorstein Veblen. His sixth chapter is titled Pecuniary Canons of Taste.
“Even a scientific periodical, with ostensibly no purpose but the most effective presentation of matter with which its science is concerned, will concede so much to the demands of this pecuniary beauty as to publish its scientific discussions in old style type, on laid paper, and with uncut edges. But books which are not ostensibly concerned with the effective presentation of their contents alone, of course go farther in this direction. Here we have a somewhat cruder type, printed on hand-laid, deckel-edged paper, with excessive margins and uncut leaves, with bindings of a painstaking crudeness and elaborate ineptitude. The Kelmscott Press reduced the matter to an absurdity — as seen from the point of view of brute serviceability alone — by issuing books for modern use, edited with the obsolete spelling, printed in black-letter, and bound in limp vellum fitted with thongs. As a further characteristic feature which fixes the economic place of artistic book-making, there is the fact that these more elegant books are, at their best, printed in limited editions. A limited edition is in effect a guarantee — somewhat crude, it is true — that this book is scarce and that it therefore is costly and lends pecuniary distinction to its consumer.”
“the canon is to some extent shaped in conformity to that secondary expression of the predatory temperament, veneration for the archaic or obsolete, which in one of its special developments is called classicism.”
“It is a regulative rather than a creative principle. It very rarely initiates or originates any usage or custom directly. Its action is selective only.”