How art hidden on the edge of books has found new fans after tweet goes viral
Fore-edge painting has a new fan base.
Unearthing a rare gem is one of the highlights of social media, so when one guy stumbled across a clip from a 2015 YouTube video it was dutifully shared.
Twitter user @illucifer posted a 10-second clip of what is known as fore-edge painting – where the pages of a book contain a hidden picture only visible when aligned just so.
Did you know some books have secret paintings on the edges of their pages that you can see by aligning them just right?? 🤯 pic.twitter.com/nwVKf8Eilm— Chris (@illucifer) September 5, 2018
In the video, the revealed picture shows people by a lake surrounded by a handful of buildings.
His surprise was echoed by others on the platform as it racked up a huge social score – 26,000 likes, 9,000 retweets and more than half a million views.
It spawned hundreds of comments on the mastery of the art and a general consensus that people will be out searching for such artwork in libraries.
The clip came from a short video showing the craft by Cornell University in New York state, which still has only a fraction of that reach, just over 11,000 views.
It shows artwork credited to Miss CB Currie on the edge of a 1925 copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim from Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.
The book is unique, says Cornell, because it includes a laid-in photo of the scene depicted on the page edge.
The video was created by university archivist Evan Earle in 2015.
But don’t be expecting to see this style of artwork on new novels.
In 2017, the UK’s Heritage Crafts Association listed fore-edge painting as “critically endangered” on the Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts.
Only three people were known practitioners of the art and there were no trainees trying to master the skills to keep it alive.