The People of Orleans Greet Joan of Arc

Secret Book Art: 10 Enchanting Fore-Edge Paintings

At Wigan Lane Books we love interesting and unique books of character.

There are types of books that may look normal to the naked eye, but can actually have a hidden secret.

A secret that was only recently rediscovered and popularised by Colleen Theisen at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa in the USA.

The secret in question is that a select few books actually contain hidden artworks along the fore-edge of the book.

These fore-edge paintings can only be revealed once the pages of the book have been fully fanned out.

The sides of the book page edges have been painted in gilt, what is unnoticed by the reader is that each separate page has been uniquely painted that forms a picture when fanned. A clamp was used to create the fore-edge paintings.

The clamp holds together the book into the fanned position to make it easier for the artist to paint the picture. When the pages have been released from the clamp, the painting disappears. The for-edge paintings often depict countryside landscapes with characters in the background in various situations.

Here are some examples of fore-edge paintings from the University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives. The first four books are all by Robert Mudie. Each book has a different seasonal theme: autumn, winter, spring and summer.

Autumn

Autumn; or; The causes, appearances, and effects of the seasonal decay and decomposition of nature, 1837. By Robert Mudie.

The above image is from a book that was published in 1837, by Robert Mudie, taken from Colleen Theisen’s original tumblr blog post.

Autumn; or; The causes, appearances, and effects of the seasonal decay and decomposition of nature, 1837. By Robert Mudie. - animated version

Animated version of the same book, also from Colleen Theisen’s blog post.

Winter

Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Winter by Robert Mudie / University of Iowa.

Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Animated version of the book above.

Spring

Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa.

Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Animated version of the book above.

Summer

Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa.

Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Animated version of the book above.

John T. Beer – Cardiff Rare Books Collection

“John preaching in the Wilderness”:John T. Beer’s illustration on an early 16th century Latin Bible.

“John preaching in the Wilderness”:John T. Beer’s illustration on an early 16th century Latin Bible.

The “open” scene on Fox’s journal. The artist would have fanned the pages and gripped them in a vice before applying the watercolour.

John T. Beer – Open scene on the Fox’s journal.

Boston Public Library Fore-Edge Collection

The People of Orleans Greet Joan of Arc

The People of Orleans Greet Joan of Arc.

The Modern History of Hindustan, by Thomas Maurice, 1802

The Modern History of Hindustan, by Thomas Maurice, 1802.

Stonehenge - The royal kalendar, and court and city register

Stonehenge – The royal kalendar, and court and city register, 1849.

Fore-Edge Frankenstein

Fore-Edge Frankenstein.


We hope you have found this article interesting!

About Wigan Lane Books

Wigan Lane Books is an online book store based in Chorley, Lancashire, specialising in rare books and books of interest.

Click here to view our homepage, Like us on Facebook, circle us on Google +, or follow us on Twitter!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ads

Leave a Reply