The Lost Art of Fore-Edge Artwork (video)

fore-edge-artworkFor the most part books are now mass-produced, disposable commodities (the construction quality of the average paperback makes that point indisputable).

But there was a time when books were luxuries, and each copy was treated as a work of art. Bookbinders (who were sometimes publishers, but not always) would clad a text in an expensively-tooled leather cover and, sometimes, hire an artist to decorate the edge of book with a painting.

As you can see in the following videos, a fore-edge painting is not visible when a book is closed; instead the book looks like it has gilt, or gold-painted edges.

It is only when the book is opened that you can see the artwork.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, this type of artwork was added to books from about 1650 to the late 19th century, when the style began to wane in popularity (perhaps as became more of a utility than a luxury item).

You can find more examples on Twister Sister, AbeBooks, and BostonPublicLibrary.

Boing Boing

About Nate Hoffelder (11582 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

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