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“The Works of William Shakespeare” with Split Double Fore-Edge Paintings, c1870

We sold this item at auction for $2,214
 in January 2021.

“Shakespear Comprising his Dramatic and Poetical Works, Complete: Accurately Printed from the Text of the Corrected Copy Left by the Late George Stevens”, with a glossary and notes, complete in one volume (New York: Oliver S. Felt).

This beautiful copy of the Works of William Shakespeare, published circa 1870 holds a secret – a stunning “hidden” split double fore edge painting themed to the subject of the book.

The vanishing fore edge (meaning that the painting disappears when the book is closed) showcases wonderfully executed fine paintings of the three witches from “Macbeth”, the ass-headed character “Bottom” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and a depiction of the graveyard scene from “Hamlet”.

Fore-edge paintings first began appearing in the late 18th century and are quite the fascinating novelty. The most interesting fore-edge paintings are vanishing or hidden, meaning that until the pages of the book are properly fanned, the artwork will be invisible. Some are even have a double fore-edge painting, meaning that if the book is fanned one way, one painting will be displayed, and if the book is fanned the opposite way, a second painting is revealed. Such is the case with this copy of the Works of William Shakespeare which we sold at auction for $2,214.

If you’re interested in selling an antique book with a fore-edge painting or collection of such books at auction with us, check out our antique books consignment page for more information.

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