What is a Fore-edge Painting?


Unlike the spine and covers of a bookbinding, the page edges are not usually decorated, however…

A fore-edgE painting is where the page block is fanned and an image applied to the stepped surface. If the page edges are themselves gilded or marbled, this results in the image disappearing when the book is relaxed. When refanned, the painting magically re-appears.


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Variations................. .  

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hat is doubly amazing is that the page block can then be fanned in the opposite direction and a second painting discovered.

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With large books, the text block can be split in half and painted separately. Each half can also be fanned in both directions, offering four painted images (Two-way split double).


The ALL-EDGE           
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Finally the top and bottom book edges can also be decorated, and if done so in both directions, can result in a total of twelve possible painted surfaces.

The vanishing Fore-edge Painting has been a traditional English book art for centuries and is continued today by just a few artists, usually working on old, finely bound, pre-gilded books.

      The magic transformation of a bright gilded book-edge into an intricate little painting, and then see it fade back into the gold again, never fails to delight.


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What is a Fore-edge Painting?
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