This post was written by Michael Stewart


A century from now there will be a descriptive term for people like me; the generation that grew up in a world of paper based literature, vinyl dependent music, terrestrial television and telephones that plugged into walls. Probably something derived from “dinosaur” no doubt. However, one of the joys of being pre digital is having a frame of reference that enables comparison. That I can now carry about my person an album collection that would have previously required the services of several strong chaps and a transit van makes me truly appreciative of digital technologies.

But what does concern me is the loss of the peripherals; those by products of our non-digital past. Much has been made of the demise of the album cover, the record shop and the hissing and crackling of pressed vinyl, for example. On the plus side, few will mourn the passing of the hall telephone table, the puddle at the bottom of the phone box or the shared party line. No, I’m referring to those curious quirks and idiosyncrasies that used to inhabit our lives, lurking just beneath the surface. A good example of this is the fore–edge paintings that appeared on books. These only revealed themselves when the reader fanned the pages and took the form of everything from landscapes to portraits, symbolic representations to religious scenes. With some examples dating back to the 10th century, this is an art form with a thousand year lineage.

Now that’s something not even a top of the range Kindle can claim….

fore-edge paintings

Many of these paintings can be viewed online through the Boston Public Library. They have a collection of 258 paintings, one of the larger collections in the US.

Via Fore-Edge Paintings: The Secret Works of Art Hidden Inside Book Pages


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