Whaling on the Fore-Edge

Whaling on the Fore-Edge

The Psalms and Hymns, with the Catechism, Confession of Faith, and Canons, of the Synod of Dort, and Liturgy of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in North America. Philadelphia: William G. Mentz, 1847.

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A mid-nineteenth century prayer book is a common enough thing (although AAS did not have a copy of this particular one), but before we judge the book, let’s take a look at its cover. Full black morocco encases this gilt-to-the-hilt prayer book. Lurking under its gilt fore-edge (the tips of the pages opposite the spine) is an artistic surprise: fan the pages of the text block slightly and a watercolor whale hunt is revealed. The delicately painted scene is complete with choppy seas and a mammoth spouting whale surrounded by whalers. This unusual example of the fore-edge painter’s art on an American book is signed, but only with the initial “H.”

Adopted by Robert & Lillian Fraker, Savoy Books

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