History of Book edge decoration
The vanishing Fore-edge Painting is a unique and traditional English bookart with a history that is centuries old.
These days it is limited to just a few artists, usually working on antique books, finely bound with pre-gilded edges.
However today this magic can also be achieved on many modern books too!
History of decorated book edges
Book edge decoration in its simplest form began in the 10th century in Europe. By the 15th century, the titles of books were written along the un-fanned edges of books. The earliest decorated vanishing fanned fore-edges date back to the 17th century and include coats of arms and flower motifs. Edwards of Halifax, an English bindery, progressed the art with many finely executed landscapes and depictions of ancestral homes and are today much sought after by collectors.
Although Fore-edge Paintings tend to be unsigned, we do know of a number of artists such as Bartholomew Frye, John T. Beer and Joseph Clayton Clarke and Miss C.B. Curry who painted miniatures and fore-edges in the early 1900’s . More recently Don Noble, Clare Brooksbank and Margaret Costa have created many fine Fore-edge Paintings.
In the last 48 years Martin Frost has painted and signed many thousands of edges and now also works on modern books and often improves them with bespoke bindings.
VIDEOS on Fore-edge Painting:
What is a Fore-edge Painting? - Martin explains
Fore-edge maker - Martin Frost, a BBC TV profile