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The Fascination of Fore-edges | Tales of Mystery and Pagination
"[Placing books on shelves with the fore-edges facing outwards] was normal practice in libraries for much of the sixteenth century for two reasons. One is that writing or printing the title and author’s name on the spine was not common until the 17th century and therefore the ‘back’ of the book was purely functional, holding the pages together. The other is that books, like the manuscripts which preceded them, were often held securely by a chain fastened to a metal staple on the fore-edge of the wooden board."
ets305  bookhistory  foreedges 
april 2018 by cforster

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