Previously we talked about book-edge decoration and showed off some beautiful examples, but we only just touched on the subject of fore-edge painting. Fore-edge painting involves “secret” or “hidden” artwork that is only visible when the books’ pages are fanned. For example:
Basically, the painting — usually of a scene, like a castle or a landscape — isn’t visible when the book is closed. The painting is actually painted onto the margin or the very edge of the book’s paper. The earliest known examples of these “hidden” fore-edge paintings date back to the 17th century. For obvious reasons, early examples are much sought after by collectors!
Some more examples:
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