A hidden treat found in the Palfrey Library

  • 5th May 2015

One of the volumes held in the Palfrey Library has been found to have a charming painting hidden on its fore-edge.

The volume, entitled ‘An Address to Persons of Quality and Estate’ by Robert Nelson, dated 1715, includes a fore-edge painting showing a view of Worcester cathedral from the river.

The painting is revealed by very carefully fanning out the pages of the book

A fore-edge painting is a scene painted on the edges of the pages of a book. In order to view the painting, the leaves of the book must be fanned, exposing the edges of the pages and thereby the painting. This type of painting is not visible when the book is closed.

The volume is from the Palfrey Library, which is a special collection of some 4,500 volumes, forming part of the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service Local Studies Reference Library. In 1962 this extensive collection was bequeathed to Worcestershire County Council by Alderman H. E. Palfrey who was Chairman of the Records Committee, to be used as a resource for the County Record Office. Alderman Palfrey was crucial in the County Council’s decision to set up a County Record Office in 1947.

At first sight one would not guess what a treat is hidden on the fore-edge of this volume

The Palfrey collection, which is available to search on the library catalogue, was compiled over many years and boasts a rare selection of antiquarian studies, first editions and volumes relating to the study of Worcestershire and surrounding counties.

Our Local Studies Reference library can be found on Level 2 at The Hive. Please note that the Palfrey Library is a special collection that may only be consulted in our Original Archive Area during our opening hours.  

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