An unusual collection, and one of the largest of its kind, is the Ralph H. Wark Collection of Fore-edge Paintings. A fore-edge painting is a picture painted on the outer edges of the leaves of a volume, and which is seen only when the pages are fanned. Fore-edge paintings had their heyday in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in England. The painted scenes show tremendous variety in subject, sometimes corresponding to the topic of the volume, and other times being unrelated. Swem’s Wark collection specializes in nineteenth-century English fore-edge paintings but includes a few American scenes as well. The collection numbers over 700 volumes, many of which also have exquisite bindings. Ralph H. Wark’s gift has been augmented through donations by his friend Patrick Hayes.
Search or browse the Wark collection in the library catalog.