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Fore-Edge Painting



Colleen Theisen who helps with outreach and instruction at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa demonstrates fore-edge painting on the edge of an 1837 book called Autumn by Robert Mudie. Fore-edge painting, which is believed to date back as early as the 1650s, is a way of hiding a painting on the edge of a book so that it can only be seen when the pages are fanned out. There are even books that have double fore-edge paintings, where a different image can be seen by flipping the book over and fanning the pages in the opposite direction.

The books Theisen demonstrates are part of a series about the seasons which are shared here. Included are images of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter which were donated to the University of Iowa by Charlotte Smith. 



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