The American Influence
The period Carl J. Weber identified as the “American Blight” occurred during the latter half of the 19 th century, and refers to a period in the history of fore-edge painting when the scenes painted had nothing to do with the content of the book (Weber 125). For example, a book of poetry by Sir Walter Scott might have a scene of Fort Sumter on its fore-edge. This was done purely to sell books to American tourists. Apparently Americans preferred to buy their books abroad because there are many more examples of fore-edge paintings depicting scenes from America on books by English authors or printers than anything else. Unfortunately this period also saw the quality of the paintings go down while prices went up. It is also worth noting that books chosen for decoration tended to be unimportant volumes. British booksellers had found a successful and profitable means of unloading their overstocked and slow moving titles.