Book reveals fore-edge painting

Common Prayer title page.jpg
The book of common prayer : Oxford: : Printed at the Clarendon Press, by J. Cooke and S. Collingwood … and sold by E. Gardner, at the Oxford Bible Warehouse … London., 1818.
Call number: BX5145 .A4 1818.
The Special Collections department has recently discovered a book in its collection with a splendid example of a disappearing single fore-edge painting. Fore-edge painting is when a scene is painted on the edges of the pages of a book. Disappearing fore-edge painting is not visible when the book is closed. In order to view the painting, the leaves of the book must be fanned, exposing the edges of the pages and thereby the painting. There are several different types of fore-edge painting: single, double, triple or panoramic. Gilt or marbling is usually applied by the bookbinder once the painting has dried, so as to make the painting completely invisible when the book is closed.

The Book of Common Prayer has a single disappearing fore-edge painting of the ruins of Byland Abbey, North Yorkshire. Byland Abbey was founded in 1135, and was occupied by several different religious communities before it was dissolved in 1538. A successful community, Byland Abbey was known for its sheep and wool products. The monumental and scenic ruins of the abbey are now in the care of the English Heritage program.
The earliest examples of European fore-edge paintings date to 10th century AD. The first known example of a disappearing fore-edge painting (where the painting is not visible when the book is closed) dates from 1649. Fore-edge paintings from this time period were of heraldic coat of arms or other symbolic designs. Around 1750, the subject matter of fore-edge paintings shifted to landscapes, portraits, pornographic, and religious scenes. The majority of extant examples of fore-edge painting date to the late 19th and early 20th century on reproductions of books originally published in the early 19th century.
Common Prayer Abbey.jpg
The Book of Common Prayer was rebound, most likely during the late 1840s to the mid 1850s. It has a contemporary red morocco gift book binding. There are single gilt fillets on the front and back covers. The spine is in gilt compartments. The book’s is title stamped in gilt on the spine. There are gilt dentelles on the inside edges of the book’s cover. When rebound, blue colored endpapers were used to replace the original front and back paste-down endpapers. There is an armorial bookplate of F. H. Barker on the front paste-down. All edges are gilt.