Books + Secret Art = Super Awesome

Today, thanks to Colossal, we learned about an amazing art form called fore-edge painting. Fore-edge paintings are found on the edges of the pages of a book.

"There are two basic forms, including paintings on edges that have been fanned and edges that are closed; thus with the first instance a book edge must be fanned to see the painting and in the second the painting is on the closed edge itself and thus should not be fanned. A fanned painting is one that is not visible when the book is closed."

The fanned fore-edge paintings you see here come courtesy of Colleen Theise at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa. The first one is from an 1837 book by Robert Mudie entitled Autumn.

"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 second and third books pictured here are Winter and SummerHead over to Colossal to view more examples, including video footage of fore-edge paintings.