Glossary of Terms for Book Collectors

Book related technical terms and words

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This guide to the technical terms and meanings
commonly used by dealers, collectors, bookbinders and cataloguers. It aims to address commonly asked questions such as what does - mean ? What is the meaning of.Define, Explanation etc
Descriptions are brief overviews
If the term is in blue, click for a more in-depth guide.

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Acquatint Process of engraving, a style of illustration
Armorial Bearing the coat of arms of the former owner, either stamped on the binding or on a bookplate
Association Copy The book or a  previous owner is closely associated with the author
Autograph Written in the hand of the author
Bibliography A list of book by an author or on a subject, usually arranged chronologically or alphabetically
Blank A unprinted leaf of a book
Blind Tooled Embossed decoration on book covers with no colour or gilt added
Calf A smooth high quality type of leather used for binding
Called for Usually referring to an issue point in reference to an acknowledged and accepted bibliography
Cancel Any part of a book that is a replacement for what was originally printed, usually due to error or correction.
Chromolithograph A type of colour printing
Collate To check a book is complete, all pages and plates etc present
Collotype A photographic illustration process
Colophon A note at the end of a book giving publication details etc
Contemporary Something on or close to the original publication date, i.e. a binding or inscription etc
Corrigenda Corrections supplied after publication and inserted, same as errata
Crushed In reference to leather, usually Morocco, pressed or rolled so the grain cannot be seen
Deckle Relates to edges, rough untrimmed text blocks of handmade paper
Dentelles A binding decoration, gilt lines and corner decorations on the inside board on the leather between edge and pastedown
Device The trademark of symbol of the publisher
Disbound Books or text blocks removed from their original bindings or volumes
Doublure The interior lining of a book in silk or leather etc rather than paper
Drop Title Having no title page, title appears on first page of text
Dust Jacket - Wrapper Protective cover placed around book, initially to protect boards but later for decorative purposes. Sometime abbreviated to DW or DJ
Endpaper The double leaf at the beginning and end of the book, one half adhered to board known as 'pastedown' other half known as 'free endpaper'
Engraving A process in illustration
Errata Corrections supplied after publication, usually in the form of tipped in slips
Etching A process in illustration
Facsimile A reproduction of an original book, page or dust wrapper etc
Flat signed A modern term used for signed books showing only the authors name with no inscriptions
Fleuron A flower shaped printers decoration
Fore-edge The front outer edge of a book
Format The size and shape of a book
Foxing Brown marks or stains on paper, same as spotting
Frontispiece An illustration which face the title page
Gilt Edged The edges of the book are in gilt (gold). Often abbreviated to: AEG (all edges gilt) or TEG (top edge gilt)
Guard A piece of protective paper over an illustration or plate
Half bound The spine, 1/4 of front board and corners bound in leather or cloth, sometimes 1/4 of front edge of board rather than corners
Half-title The leaf  before the title page, usually showing just the title
Hand-coloured A pre printed illustration that has been coloured by hand
Headband The silk band at the top and bottom of the books spine, should be hand sewn through leaves but now often just imitations adhered to spine
Hinge The inside junction where the text block meets the board
Holograph Written entirely by the hand of the author
Illuminated Decoration done by hand using, gold silver and other coloured leaf
Impression The state of the book in terms of print history, i.e. Third Impression
Incunabula Books printed in movable type before 1501. In the USA the qualifying date is regarded as pre 1701
Inlay The insertion of leather into the main skin of the binding for decorative purposes
Inscribed Added to by hand, usually in reference to authors autograph
Issue point A point that is deemed to determine the edition of a book. Usually used when a book may appear to have all first addition attributes. Often things such as printing errors, bindings and catalogues etc.
Large paper edition Usually a limited edition made up of larger than normal sheets, often signed and special editions
Leaf - leaves A single sheet of paper
Limited edition An edition limited to a certain, and stated, number of copies
Limp Usually applied to velum covers not backed by board
Lithograph A form of illustration
Marbled The process of decoration by placing  paper on water with colouring, producing 'swirling' patterns, now often machine printed
Mezzotint A form of illustration
Misbound Pages bound upside down or in wrong order
Morocco Goatskin used for binding, usually higher quality
Mottled The effect of bleaching patches on leather caused by flecks of acid. Also applied to book cloth that in unintentionally marked with the acid from dust wrappers
Movable type Printing type invented by Gutenberg in the 15th century, each letter being on a separate stem
ND - Not Dated Book shows no publication date
Offset - offsetting Transfer of ink or discolouration from an illustration, text or object on opposite page
Original As published, i.e. 'original cloth'
Pagination The consecutive numbering of pages
Part One instalment of a book
Photogravure A type of illustration reproduced from from a photograph using a metal plate
Pirated An edition printed with the permission or payment to author
Plate A full page illustration printed separately from book, usually tipped in later
Preliminaries - prelims All the leaves, printed or otherwise that precede the main body of text
Presentation copy Book inscribed and presented to someone else, usually by the author
Price clipped The dust wrapper has had the priced removed
Provenance The previous history and ownership of the book
Proof copy The advance printing of a book, originally for proof reading now increasingly used for promotional and review purposes. Known in the US an ARC - advance reading copy.
Quarter bound The spine and a quarter of the front board are bound in leather or cloth
Quire A group of leaves folded together prior to binding
Rebacked The spine of the book has been replaced, usually due to wear
Recto The front of a leaf, i.e. right hand page of an open book
Rubbed The wear or damage to edges of a book or jacket associated with rubbing
Rubricated Having beginning of chapters or initial capital letters coloured in red or illustrated
Runner Someone who sells books to another dealer without maintaining specific stock, buying from one dealer to sell quickly to another
Scout American term for runner
Solander case / box A protective case which when opened at least one side will lay flat
Spotting The same as foxing
Sprung The book has a weakened spine, pages beginning to come loose
State Another term for impression, i.e. 'first state'
Three decker A single book issued in three volumes, usually relating to 19th century fiction
Tipped in Usually a plate or leaf etc added to book after binding, lightly glued to one edge
Title page The preliminary page carrying the title, author, date, publisher etc
Uncut Rough edges of a text block that have not been cut or trimmed by binder
Uniform Usually books in sets bound in the same style
Unsophisticated In original and unrestored condition
Variant A book that differs in some way from other editions, often used for first editions when no precedence has been established
Vellum Calf skin used for binding and parchments
Verso The back of a leaf, i.e. the left hand side of an open book
Vignette Small picture or design used on title page etc
With all faults - WAF A warning that the book may have serious faults and is sold as seen
Woodcut A form of illustration
Wrappers - wraps Paper covers on a books, i.e. paperback

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