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16 Fore-Edge Paintings You'll Love, Even If You Don't Like Books

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List RulesVote up the most beautiful works of fore-edge painting you'd want in your library.

Fore-edge paintings are a fascinating subset of the literary and artistic worlds. But you may find yourself wondering: what are fore-edge paintings? In the late 18th century, many religious texts began to be published with ornate and artistic drawings or covers. Along with this other book art, publishers would occasionally – and painstakingly – color the page edges with ink or paint in order to create a secret picture. Sometimes this painting could not be seen unless the edges of the pages were splayed out slightly, so that many wouldn't even know it was there. While you'll find this throughout the 1800s, 1900s, and even today, it first rose to popularity in the late 1700s in England. 

While some examples of these paintings are simple, involving flowers, text, or perhaps the shape of an animal, many others are intensely ornate. You might find the author's picture, a scene from the book, or a landscape from where the author or character grew up. Either way, these fore-edge painting books are very sought after, even if most of the titles have faded from memory. 

Curious to discover more about this hidden world? Luckily for you, this list contains photos of some beautiful fore-edge paintings that are sure to knock your socks off – even if you've never heard of the book. Read on to marvel at some incredible images, and vote up the coolest of them all.