The Photographic Album. FORE-EDGE PAINTING.
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album
The Photographic Album

The Photographic Album

New York: Major & Knapp, Lithographers, 1864. Item #05242

An outstanding specimen of the first provable Fore-Edge Paintings produced in the United States.

[FORE-EDGE PAINTING]. The Photographic Album. American Photographic Album containing one hundred original carte-de-visite photographs. New York: Major & Knapp, Lithographers, [no date, ca. 1864/5].

Large quarto (10 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches; 274 x 216 mm.). Lithograph title-page in gold, red & blue. Twenty-five window-mount card-leaves with decorative motifs on each leaf printed by the lithographer. The title names the litho-printer source. No printed date given.

Original full brown morocco over wooden carved boards. Covers and spine elaborately ruled and decorated in gilt, two brass clasps fitted with two rondelles of rose glass. The fore-edges heavily gauffered and with gilt leaf applied, with each edge hand-painted with a triptych probably significant to the owner of the album (meaning personal images), showing landscape views of upstate New York (near Batavia is a good guess). Housed in a custom-made full dark brown morocco jewel case with brown watered silk lining and lock with key. (Cottage Bindery, Bath, England).

An outstanding specimen of the first provable Fore-Edge Paintings produced in the United States.

The earliest provable American fore-edge paintings are on New York photographic albums from the 1860s. Why are these albums proven to be this early? Because the photographers are often known and when they worked is known. Sometimes the photographs themselves are dated. Because there are a number of these New York deluxe format photographic albums have fore­ edge paintings applied by hand, by commission, each are different and follow this pattern. This type of American bindings are all photo albums, all from New York City, and represent a fashion that probably did not last more than a few years. A person who wanted a photo album could have a deluxe format of the album, full goatskin leather, in various sizes and thicknesses. This is a particularly fine specimen, as it is in excellent condition, large size (larger than some others), and contains a generous selection of family photographs.

Among the numerous photographs within are named persons (however, the photos and the named labels are now mixed up, some may be correct, some are misleading): Alva Smith, Nastran T. Smith, Mrs. H. T. Smith (Mary J. Ellicott Patkin), Mrs. Wilbur Smith (Eva Dolbeer), Henry J. Cross, Mrs. H.J. Cross (Julia Smith), Vantia Smith, Sarepta H. Smith, Colton B. Smith, Alice Smith, Addis Stocking Goulde, Cecilia J. Smith, Hettie Ida Smith [Griswold], Herbert E, Smith, H. E. Smith, Mrs. C. B. Smith (Blanche Vander Bogart), Henry A. Cross, Frank Cross, M. Holder, Will Smith, Joseph A. Sleeper, Alonzo Luce, Mary J. Stephens [Jane Colton Stephens daughter], Ruth Colton Luce, [Ohio cousins], Hosmer Kellogg (Mrs. Graves' father), Mrs. Edna Kellogg (daughter Pierpont Seymours), Henry Seymours (son Pierpont Seymour), Eunice Graves (mother + Eunice), Chester Seymour, Miss Maria Stocking, Miss Worthington, and many more names found within.

As a fore-edge painting specimen, this piece, with so many carte-de-visite photographs, may have dates associated with those photographs that could point to the date when this album was bought and painted. Of the lithographers: Joseph F. Knapp 1832-1891, The patriarch of the Knapp family Lithographer of the firm Sarony Major & Knapp , Major & Knapp, The Knapp Co. and a founder and president of Metropolitan Life Insurance. His life story along with two other generations of his family is told in the new book The Knapps Lived Here by Ken Spooner. Between 1859-1863 the firm operated under the name of Sarony, Major, Knapp. From 1863/4, Major & Knapp are seen in New York. "Henry B. Major and "Joseph F. Knapp" are known to have operated in New York from 1864 till the 1870s. The firm, especially with Spooner, was interested in the new art of photography.

The First Evidence of Fore-Edge Painting in America.

But what of nineteenth-century American binding practices relative to fore-edge painting? The first American bookbinding manual was written by Edward Walker of E. Walker & Sons, New York. Walker's 1850 binding manual copies great deal from English sources and purports to be a study of the "origin and progress of book-binding." While he is working to generate binding commissions from clients by exposing them to the services he can provide, it is doubtful that he made fore-edge paintings. Fore-edges are described in his book (p.76 of Paul Koda's edition): "Landscapes, and paintings of flowers in water colors, are sometimes produced in a similar manner, the luxurious effect of which is dazzlingly beautiful." This statement, even for 1850, is quite interesting in that - once again - the term "Fore-edge paintings" is still not in use.

An example of early American fore-edge paintings can be offered from two undated and unsigned American bindings perhaps made in New York. Both are bindings made for a family photographic album, an example of which was seen with New York photographs that may have been from the period 1860 to 1871. Another example of the same type appeared in the hands of The Book Block (bookseller) with portraits from the Boston Lowell family. Neither is dated or signed. It is certain that the same binder made both and they had fore-edge paintings on all three closed edges with elaborate gauffering surrounding the scenes. The scenes themselves are rough by current standards and may have been personalized at the time of purchase. It might be that the artist painted a scene of the owner's home or some other view that made the album unique for the owner. In the case of the binding owned by this author, the album was neatly stamped with the name of "Laura Hawkins" whose photograph is found within the volume. Provable nineteenth-century American fore-edge paintings are very rare and really not thought of much by binding historians. Walker's binding manual and the example of these two family photographic albums are the only clear evidence of mid to late nineteenth-century fore-edge work in America.

See: Jeff Weber, Annotated Dictionary of Fore-edge Painting Artist & Binders, pp. 26-27.

Price: $8,500.00