Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2004 Newsletter

The Gammage Collection of Painted Books Donated


Painting of St. Paul's Cathedral on William
Cowper, Poems, v. 2, 1811. As with most
fore-edge paintings, the artist and title of the
painting are unknown.

The Ransom Center is pleased to announce the donation of the T. Earnest Gammage, Jr. collection of fore-edge paintings. Always highly prized by collectors, fore-edge paintings were an enduring interest of the late Mr. Gammage, and the collection was painstakingly assembled over the course of half a century. The donation of these books is only a part of the longstanding generosity of Mr. Gammage and his wife Elizabeth toward the University.

The collection consists of sixty-seven volumes, each decorated with a painting on the edge of the text. This form of book decoration, popularized by the bindery Edwards of Halifax in the late eighteenth century, involves fanning out the text block of a book and applying a painting directly to the page edges. When the book is released to its normal position, the painting disappears, and is usually covered with gilding. Some books in the Gammage collection even include a double painting, one of which appears when the pages are turned upwards, and a different one when turned down.  

John Overholt
Library Assistant

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