Treasure Unearthed in the Bartle Stacks!

Beth Kilmarx, Curator of Rare Books at the Binghamton University Libraries, was going through the Special Collections closed stacks one afternoon last December when she came across an unusual looking book. Kilmarx noticed that the book’s fore-edge, the side opposite the book’s spine, was a shade darker than the other edges.

“I saw the discolored gilt edge,” Kilmarx said, “and when I bent the leaves to find the cause of the coloring, I saw the painting!” Kilmarx’s discovery is known as a single disappearing fore-edge painting. The painting was found on an 1818 edition of The Book of Common Prayer. Printed in London, the book was published by J. Cook and S. Collingwood at the Clarendon Press.

Aside from the book’s age, it is the watercolor painting that makes the book so rare. The disappearing artwork can only be seen by bending all of the pages at once, and then curving them until the painting appears on the edge of the book, Kilmarx said.

Stop by Special Collections to see it for yourself.

Rare Books collection featured in the President’s Report .