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B/w - Black & white     BAL - Bibliography of American Literature     C. - Circa     DJ - Dust Jacket     O/w - Otherwise     pp. - Pages


What Is A Defect?

What counts as a defect can be somewhat subjective, but quibbling diminishes quickly once past the nitpicking stage. A defect is anything that departs from the condition of a book in Fine condition. Defects fall along a scale from very minor to very serious, from those detectable only under a magnifying glass to those totally trashing a book. Describing those at the lower end of the scale would test the patience of both parties. A buyer wants know what, if any, SIGNIFICANT DEFECTS are present, i.e. defects obvious to the naked eye upon close inspection. The professional book dealer's job is know what counts as a significant defect and report it accurately.

Equally important, just knowing the defects does not tell a buyer about the condition of the remaining portions of the book.

The condition of a book in this catalog is described by first listing significant defects (if any), then giving a general statement about the overall condition of the book if it lacked the defects listed. This is followed by the same description for the dustjacket (DJ), if present. O/w = Otherwise.

Example: "A previous owner's name in ink on the front endpaper, the top of the page edges has a small stain o/w Fine/ DJ (The front has 1/4' & 1/8' edge tears on the bottom, & the top corner is rubbed; the back cover has some light wrinkling from a faint dampstain which is seen only on the backside o/w Very Good with unclipped price)."

Figure 1
AS NEW A book in the same pristine condition as when it was printed. If issued with a dustjacket, it too must meet the same standard. Better than Fine due to the freshness of its appearance & feel.
FINE A book without significant defects and showing no signs of use beyond the lack of crispness or freshness present in a new book. If issued with a dustjacket, it too must meet the same standard.
VERY GOOD A book which shows some minor defects, but limited to those consistent with careful previous use. The defects should be minimal & insignificant in the sense that describing them would be of interest only to the most fastidious collector. A dustjacket in this condition may have a few very minor edge tears (under 1/8 inch), some evident (but minor) edge wear, or very minor defects on the covers which are barely noticeable.
GOOD A book and/or dustjacket that clearly shows it has been used, but not abused. It's your average worn, used book with many & various imperfections giving an overall appearance of a well-used book, but without having any serious defects caused by misuse, accidental or otherwise.
FAIR A book that is has serious defects, but retains the complete text & any plates or maps. It may show fairly heavy wear with some soiling & scuffing, or be missing non-essential pages such as endpapers or half-title pages. It's a serviceable copy lacking the most serious defects possible.
POOR A book whose sole virtue is having retained the complete text in a readable form. It may be missing plates or maps; be heavily worn, soiled, spotted, scuffed, stained, scribbled, stabbed - whatever; may have loose joints, hinges, & pages, or repairs. Often called a Reading Copy.


The Origins & Meanings of 8vo., 4to. and Such

The terms used in descriptive bibliography to designate the Format (shapes) of books often cause more confusion than clarity. Terms such as folio, quarto (4to) , octavo (8vo), etc. were coined based on the printing practices developed in the pre-1800 hand-press period, and continued to be used (albeit often inexactly) after the introduction of machine-printing. The precise use of these terms apply only to books printed & assembled in a certain manner, and printed on handmade or laid paper with chain lines. Such books had sections of their future pages (Gatherings) printed on both sides of large, single sheets of paper. A book's height & format are determine by how many times these sheets are folded since the final folding results in the size & shape of what will become a section of leaves in the book. Folding a sheet parallel to its short side produces 2 leaves (or 4 pages), folding again results in 4 leaves (hence, quarto), thrice gives 8 leaves (hence, octavo), and so on. If the sheet is folded parallel to its long side into thirds, then folded twice the other way, these 12 folds create a 24 leaves in a useful format called a duodecimo (12mo). Folding a 12mo produces a 24mo, etc. As shown in Figure 2, each folding produces shapes which either tend toward the squarish or a tall, more narrow format.

If all books printed in this manner had been printed on the same size sheets, the height of a book would be determined automatically by its format. Unfortunately, even early printers used sheets which varied widely in size making the height of a book still dependent on the original size of the sheets even if its has the proper shape for the number of folds made in the sheets. It is here that chain lines become important. Because they are always parallel to the shorter side of the sheet, a folio format will always have gatherings of 2 leaves with vertical chain lines while those of a quarto will be 4 leaves with horizontal lines. With some exceptions beyond the scope of this glossary, the technically precise assignment of a format to a book mass produced after the 18th century is not really possible. Despite this, booksellers have continued the practice of describing a book's size in terms of formats based largely on the shapes of sheets most commonly used in bookmaking (roughly in a 3 to 4 ratio), and, when possible, the number of leaves in a book's gatherings. Why we booksellers continue this practice remains a mystery even to us.

Figure 2
Format Name
FolioFolio A book up to 15" tall
4toQuarto A book up to 12" tall
sm4toSmall Quarto A book up to 10" tall
8voOctavo A book up to 9 พ" tall
sm8voSmall Octavo A book up to 8" tall
12moDuodecimo A book up to 7 พ" tall
16mo Sextodecimo A book up to 6 3/4" tall
24mo Vigesimo-quarto A book up to 5 3/4" tall
32moTrigesimo-segundo A book up to 5" tall.
48moQuadragesimo-octavo A book up to 4" tall
64moSexagesimo-quarto A book up to 3" tall
Seldom Seen
Large Animals
Elephant Folio A book up to 23" tall
Atlas Folio A book up to 25" tall
Double Elephant Folio A book up to 50" tall
Figure 3
Book Formats
Each Line Inside the Sheet is a Fold.
Arrows Indicate the Usual Orientation of the Format. A book bound along one of its shorter edges is called Oblong (See below).

Understanding Book Formats Given in this Catalog

The usual format abbreviations in Figure 2 are used, but modified (when necessary) by a descriptive term to aid visualizing the height & shape of a book.

STEP ONE: Match the format abbreviation given in the description for the book with its shape in Figure 3. This gives the shape of the book.

STEP TWO: If there is no additional descriptive term given with the format abbreviation, the height of the book falls within the range given in Figure 2.

STEP THREE: If there is an additional term, use Figure 4 to determine the modification.

Figure 4
Folio, 8vo., 24mo., 32mo.
Same shape, but proportionally a little taller Same shape & dimensions, but bound along one of the shorter edges Same shape, but proportionally a little shorter Same height, but a little narrower Not Applicable Same shape, but proportionally more than just a little taller, shorter, etc.
4to., 12mo., 16mo., 48mo., 64mo.
Same shape, but proportionally a little taller Same shape & dimensions, but bound along one of the shorter edges Same shape, but proportionally a little shorter Not Applicable Just enough wider to make a square format. Same shape, but proportionally more than just a little taller, shorter, etc.


Figure 5
Book Parts



Advanced Reading Copy: A book produced for reviewers prior to its release on the market. Copies may be in a different format. May or may not be bound; and if bound, may have the finished cover art or a trial cover.

Advertisements: Many publishers in the 19th and early 20th centuries placed advertisements in their books for other books they published. These were usually located at the back of the book where occasionally ads for other related products may be found. Less frequently, ads for everyday products such as cosmetics, patent medicines, and the like, appear as Plates scattered among the Text Pages.

All Edges Gilt [or Other Color]: Gilt, or another named color, has been applied to the top, bottom & fore edges of the book .

Apocryphal: A book whose authorship or authenticity is dubious.

Applied Pictorial Cover: See PASTE-DOWN ILLUSTRATION.

As Issued: Generally used to clarify that some component of a book which is present or might appear to be missing is the state in which the book was originally published.

Association Copy: A book for which there is internal documentation (e.g. a signature or bookplate) that it was owned by the author, someone close to the author, a person independently deserving notice, someone significantly associated with the content of or in the creation of the book (the illustrator, cover designer, etc.).

Authorized Edition: See "Authors /Author's Edition". In the case of a biography, however, the expression means the subject of the biography (or his/her family if deceased) has approved publication of the author's work.

Authors / Author's Edition: An edition of a title published with the explicit consent of the author, or whomever holds the legal rights to the work. The designation is most often found in books issued in the latter part of the 19th century through the turn of the century, a period during which the works of popular authors were not infrequently published without the permission of, or payment to the author. The expression only implies that the book in hand is not a "pirated" or Unauthorized edition.

Figure 6


Backstrip: See SPINE

Beveled: When said of covers made in whole or part with boards, the edges of the covers have been angled as a decorative device. See Figure 6.

Binding: The method of holding the leaves of a book together. While the leaves may, in fact, be held together by gluing, sewing, or stapling, the term is used to refer to the outer covers of a book, as if it were the covers holding the leaves together. Thus, books are said to be Bound in boards (alone), boards covered with cloth, paper, or various types of leathers, and enclosed in Wraps. Other materials & combinations of materials have also been used from from the common to the exotic.

Blank: A page or leaf of a book which is devoid of printing or anything else. Blanks are intentional, but those found at the end of the book (other than a single flyleaf) are less so, being the result of a book's final Gathering having less than its total pages printed. E.g. a 4to book (See Figure 3) has 4 Leaves and 8 printable pages. If the book is fully printed using only 3 of the available pages, the remaining 5 will be blank. These final, unused pages are referenced as Printer's Blanks

Blindstamping: Letters, decorations, or other marks which have been impressed (usually) in the binding without further adornment such as gilt or color. Also called Tooling. See Figure 7. See also Giltstamping.

Figure 7

Blurb: Comments on the dustjacket or covers of a book from the publisher or a reviewer descriptive of the book's contents or value. As a further marketing tool, blurbs may also be supplemented with brief quotes from persons whose opinions will be recognized & trusted by the potential reader.

Boards: The material used in the covers of modern hardbound books composed of stiff cardboard or a similar material. Where the term alone is used to describe the covers, it means the binding is paper-covered boards. It is usually covered with materials such as cloth, leather, or vinyl. The origin of the term probably dates to the Medieval practice of binding manuscript between wooden boards.

Board Book: An expression applied to books which are not merely bound in boards (see above), but consist solely of boards, i.e. both the covers and the pages are made from sturdy pressed cardboard. While there are exceptions, the format has generally been used for books produced for babies and toddlers. Such books are durable, and can withstand their intended audience's enthusiatic close scrutiny, often expressed by chewing. sucking, ripping, stomping & shaking. They also lend themselves to easily to being diecut into various shapes, as well as laminated for easy cleaning.

Book Club Editions: Books printed solely for a book club to be sold to subscribers. While it is generally true that such books have poorer quality bindings & often less expensive paper than the books issued by the publisher for the general retail market, there are exceptions among smaller clubs who specialize in reprinting new editions of books marketed as "collectible" or with appeal to a limited audience. Some major clubs Blindstamp their back cover with their logo, print the club name on the front flap of the dustjacket, or are marked in other ways; others are identified by their dustjackets lacking a price on an inner flap lacking a price on the front flap or, in the case of more recent books, a bar code. Unmarked book club editions, or those lacking dustjackets, can be mistaken for first edition either because they were printed from the first edition plates and are explicitly so marked, or bear the identifying characteristics of the publisher's first editions. Identifying book club edition is a subject unto itself which is covered well by Craig Stark and William Chappelear .

Bowed: A defect found in books whose covers are made with boards. The covers either bow inward toward the leaves or outward away from the leaves as a result of a rapid change in humidity which causes different rates of expansion or contraction between the boards & material covering them

Broadside: A method of public communication using a single sheet of paper that is printed on one side only with the verso being blank. Broadsides originated in 16th century England shortly after the invention of the printing press. The earliest broadsides served as a means for distributing political & religious announcements, as well as the text of English ballads which were sold in the streets. Over time, the broadside came to function as the principle form of public communication. Announcements from government officials, institutions & businesses were joined by those conveying advertisements for products, services & events; political statements; auction sales bills; personal declarations; news; information or opinions about current issues; elegies; amateur & accomplished poems (several important poems by Dryden, Butler, etc originally appeared broadsides); musical scores; etc. Broadsides were both posted and offered as handbills, although because of wide illiteracy in earlier times some were often read aloud before a crowd. Thus, their size may vary from that of handbill to that of a poster. While an early broadside would neither be folded nor intended to be, this requirement has been relaxed due to more loosey-goosey modern practices . When a single leaf of paper has been printed on both sides, it is properly called a Broadsheet.

Broken or Cracked Spine: A defect in the spine itself (the edge of the book opposite the foreedge where the Signatures are sewn & glued together as opposed to the spine cover) whereby it is vertically cracked in the Gutter between adjacent signatures. Except in extreme cases (where the defect is best described as a Split), the separation of the adjacent signatures is not complete, i.e. the Textblock has not been split into two parts, but is being held together tenuously by whatever remains of the binding materials . When this defect is present in the mid-section of a book, it will tend to fall open along the crack when resting on its spine. Cracks close to endpapers may fail this test because there is often less separation. Spine cracks are usually caused by pushing too heavily downward across the spine to flatten leaves, or when the binding glue at the back of the signatures dries to the point of inflexibility.

Broken or Cracked Hinge or Joint: A crack along either the Hinge or the Joint of a book. One of both can be cracked, but most frequently it is a hinge. A broken or cracked hinge leaves the affected front or back cover attached to the body of the book, but rather more loosely than desirable. If a hinge has completely parted company with the Textblock, the affected cover is said to be Detached.

Browned, Tanned or Toned Paper: Discoloration of the paper in a book or on a dustjacket ranging from yellow tints thru tan to brown due to the presence of lignin, the natural glue that binds wood fibres (cellulose) from which virtually all modern paper is manufactured. If the lignin is not completely removed from the paper pulp mix by bleaching, the resulting paper will, with age, become discolored by acidification; and higher levels of lignin often lead to a brittleness in the paper which, at its worse, causes it to easily crumble when handled. This process is hastened by storage in higher temperature & humidity environments. Until the middle of the 19th century, paper was mostly made from cotton & flax fibres which do not develop this problem. This defect should not be confused with Foxing.

Buckram: A strong, durable, coarsely woven cloth made from woven linen, or a mixture of linen & cotton, and, more recently, polyester threads. The cloth is impregnated, coated or filled with a glue or, more recently, plastic materials such as acrylics.

Bumped: A commonly found defect which results from the corners or edges a book's boards being bumped. On an edge or spine, it is dent. On a corner, the tip of the board is at least bent & may also be worn, rounded, a little mashed. If cloth-covered, the cloth at the tip may be frayed.

Figure 8
Case Binding

Cancel Leaf: A leaf which has been pasted in a book to replace one removed after the book was bound. The new leaf (frequently the title page) contains whatever changes were necessary & is glued onto a narrow stub left on purpose after the old leaf has been excised

Case/ Case Bound: The covers of a hardback book consisting of the entire outer cover including the boards & spine. The term originates from Case Binding which was introduced in the early 19th century & enabled the mechanization of bookbinding. Traditionally, binding was done by hand. The boards were attached to the Textblock by cords, and then covered with leather or paper (See Figure 20). The new method (See Figure 8) allowed mass production by manufacturing the entire outer covers separately which were then glued to textblocks. Still used today with minor variations, the process entails an adhesive being applied to the spine of a textblock, a strip of gauze (stretch out an inch or so past the spine) placed over the adhesive, a strip of thin cardboard glued over the gauze on the spine, and the cardboard glued to the back of whatever is serving as the spine cover . The inside of the front & back covers of the case are then glued to one side of the gauze extensions and the front & back endpapers to the other side. The gauze extensions become the book's Hinges.

Chromolithography : A process for creating color prints & book illustrations which evolved from the

Figure 10
Creating a 4-color lithograph by the superimposition of 4 different stones
original process of lithography discovered in the late 1790s which started with a flat stone which had been ground & polished and provided the surface on which an image was engraved. Alternately ink-repellent and ink-receptive solutions were applied to the stone and transferred to paper to create the black and white prints which were then hand-colored. Chromolithography was discovered in 1837 and was a process of superimpositioning a series of at least three colors using a separate stone for each color (See Figure 10). Each color is printed separately on the same sheet by maintaining precise alignment. As many as 38 successive proof prints from 19 separate stones were used at the height of its achievements. Chromolithographs are identified by the distinct randomly placed irregular dots visible on close inspection. Modern photolithographic methods produce uniform dots. See Figure 9.

Closed Tear: A tear in which no paper is missing, i.e. the two sides can be fitted so closely together as to render the tear almost invisible. See Open Tear

Cloth: A book bound in cloth-covered boards. The cloth is usually a type of cotton or linen, but other textiles have been used. The cloth is given a protective coat of, or "filled" with, starch or an acrylic resin.

Coated Paper: Paper with a thin coat of chalk or china clay bound to its surface, giving the paper more weight and a smooth, less ink absorbent finish. It is often used for the illustrative Plates in books. because it produces sharper, brighter images with better reflectivity the uncoated paper favored for printing text. Some books, as well as magazines, however, are printed entirely on coated stock. The coating is usually glossy, but can also be matte or dull.

Cocked: Describes a book which has departed from its proper alignment, i.e. that of a 6-faced object all of whose faces are parallelograms lying in pairs of parallel planes; or in simpler terms, a box. A book can be cocked in three ways. You have a Cocked Spine if a book viewed from either its top or bottom edge reveals a tilted spine rather than one at right angles to the covers. The tilt will cause one of the covers to appear to be longer than the other, and the end of the Textblock will also appear slanted. A book is said to have Spine Slant or Spine Lean if one cover appears to be higher than the other when looking at one of the covers while holding the book vertically. The ends of the foreedge (See Figure 5) of the textblock will also appear slanted. The third state of cockiness is when both the previous defects are present. This is usually called Spine Twist because both the spine and the top & botom edges appear to be are twisted. See Figure 11.


Collation: (1) In descriptive bibliography, the detailed inspection & description of the non-binding portion of a book regarding the presence & the sequential position of each page or leaf, including both Arabic & Roman numbered pages, unnumbered pages or leaves, etc. For book collectors, the relevance of giving a book's collation relates to either establishing a book's Priority among various States, Printings, & Editions, or determining if a book is complete as originally issued. The notations for collations get rather complex sometimes Click Here For More Detailed Information, but a rather simple example would be:

"[i-v], vi, [vii-viii], [9], 10-172, blank" which states that between the endpapers the book begins with 5 unnumbered "[ ]" preliminary pages, has a page numbered "vi" followed by 2 unnumbered preliminary pages, 9 unnumbered text pages, text pages numbered 10 thru 172, and ends with a blank page.
(2) Sometimes used to refer to the process of collecting & ordering the Gatherings before they are sewn together & bound so that the leaves of the book will have the correct sequence.

Colophon: A statement found on a page at the back of a book following the end of the text giving information about the physical printing and sometimes the history of the book. It usually includes the name of the printer, the type of paper & typeface used, but may state the number of books printed in the edition, etc. Early books often had a colophon instead of a title page. Colophons are used in modern books along with a title page either by publishers of finely printed books or those who wish to give the appearance of the former.

Comb Binding

Comb Binding: A book bound by a tubular plastic into which a series of teeth have been cut. The teeth fit through small rectangular holes punched through the left edges of the covers & leaves of the book. See Figure 12.

Copyright Date © Copyright law protects authors, publishers, or others who hold the ownership rights to books, by giving them exclusive rights regarding the publication, production, sale, or distribution of their books. The copyright date is a legal date that reflects the year a book was registered for copyright protection with the Library of Congress. Copyright information is generally found on the back of the title page. The copyright date is not necessarily the date the book in your hand was printed. In fact, a book may have been printed many years after it was copyrighted. Elsewhere on a copyright page there sometimes may be explicit information about when the book was printed, or it may be implicitly present if the publisher's convention for identifying the edition or printing of a book is known. On occasion, a book will lack a copyright date. This might mean that the book is a reprint of a work in the public domain, but in itself that is not conclusive.

IN THIS CATALOG: the copyright date appears within parentheses ( ). In cases where the copywrite page indicates that the copywrite holder is other than the author or publisher, the parentheses enclosed both the copywrite date & the name of the copyrighter.

Covers: Whatever has been used to cover the Textblock. Typically, it is paper, boards, or boards covered with cloth, leather or paper. The term is often used ambiguously to references the front & back Panels of a book. although strictly speaking it should include the spine cover as well.

Backstrip: See SPINE

Cracked: See BROKEN

Cut Pages The edges of the book's leaves have been trimmed evenly (or flush). Most modern books are so trimmed. See also Uncut

Cuts: Smaller than full-page illustrations & figures printed amid the text on a page of text. Also called Text Figures. Distinguished from Plates which are illustrations having their own page with no text other than a possible caption.


Dampstain: A stain on the covers or leaves of a book resulting from water or other liquids. The degree of discoloration varies from very light to heavy, the latter sometimes causing buckling, wrinkling or crumpling on the affected surface due to shrinkage.

Darkening: Applied to a book's covers or spine, darkening indicates a loss of brightness (reflecting less light) of color which results in a deeper, more somber shade. Caused by a book's exposure to strong light, it usually differs from a stain (which it can mimic) by having gradual demarcations rather than a fairly well-defined border. See also Fading

Date of Publication: The date on which a book is released to the market, i.e. is offered or becomes available for purchase by the public. Except when a publisher announces a specific Release Date (such as May 15, 1992), the date of publication is given as a year, or a particular month in that year. The date of a book's printing (given as a year or month/year) is very often the same as the date of publication, but not necessarily so. A book giving a printing date on its copyright page of December, 1939 may show a copyright date of 1940 due only to a delay of a few days between the book being printed & bound and registering the copyright. The reverse also occurs where the book was copyrighted late the in a year and printed & published in the following year. The term's definition allows some wiggle room because there is no formal standard recognized even now by all publishers as the date a book is placed on sale. This causes very few problems since book collectors are really interested in when a book was printed.


An Unbracketed Date is the date of publication as given on the title page or, if present, in a colophon; or, absent either of these, a date or coded date on the copyright page (other than the copyright date) which, in many modern books, gives the date of publication of the edition or printing. "No Date" means no date of publication is given .

A Date Within Braces { } immediately following the unbracketed date giving the month or month & day gives any more specific information provided by the book about its date of publication.

A Date Within Square Brackets [ ] indicates one that has been established from reference works or other sources independent of those provided in the book.

A Date Within Parentheses ( ) is the Copyright Date. In cases where the copywrite page indicates that the copywrite holder is other than the author or publisher, the parentheses enclosed both the copywrite date & the name of the copyrighter.

It should be noted that information regarding the date of publication (such as a date on the title page) is at the discretion of publisher. It's absence is not infrequent in older books whose publishers intentionally declined to give the appearance that their books were "out of date" or had been on the shelves for years. Nothing, however, should be concluded based on the absence of a date of publication alone.

Deckle Edges: Another term for Uncut or untrimmed edges.

Dedication Copy: A copy of a book which has been inscribed in the author's hand as dedicated to the person he/she names.

Diecut: The process of cutting printed sheets of paper or board in irregular shapes or designs using a sharp, metal die in the shape of the desired pattern - much like using a cookie cutter. Diecutting is can be used to create interior shapes & designs (windows) as well as to shape outer edges.

Disbound: A book lacking its binding, whether the original or a subsequent binding, leaving only the Textblock intact. The term does not imply whether or not the detached binding is still present. The term should not be confused with Unbound.

Dustjacket: A protective paper, usually bearing printing & illustrative or decorative designs, which wraps around the covers & spine of a book. The ends of the jacket have flaps which fold under the inside of the covers. Synonymous with Dustwrapper, Dustcover, Wrapper, & Book Jacket.


Editor/ Edited By: Where a book bears an editor's name rather than an author, the person referenced has selected the title's contents from the work of others (with or without including his/her own work), organized the selections, and generally prepared the title for publication. Often the editor writes an introduction to the subject being presented and/or supplies footnotes or other commentary for the purpose of clarification or accuracy. Another type of editor (who would only be mentioned if the author so chose) is an employee of a publisher who works with the author to correct errors, improve clarity & accuracy, and suggest refinements.

Edition: All the books printed from the same plates or setting of type form an edition - whether are not all the books are printed at the same time. Thus, a 1/4 million copies printed from the same plates or typesetting a month after the printing of a 1/2 million copies printed are all part of the same edition. The two Press Runs can be distinguished, however, as the 1st and 2nd printings of the same edition. Every printed book has a first edition, but many never have subsequent editions. While editions are distinguished from one another by whatever substantial changes have been made in the printing plates or type settings, as a practical business matter a publisher requires a good reason for incurring the expense of resetting the type or creating new plates. Hence, at the very least, one would expect to find new or altered material in a new edition, and should not be surprised to find a different cover or other changes unrelated to the typographical changes. Also see Printings for additional information.

Embossed: The results of a process which produces raised letters or decorations on a surface, i. e. the opposite of the results produced by stamping or impressing.

Endpapers: These are first & last leaves found in a hardbound book. Half of each endpaper is pasted onto the inside of one of the covers & the other half joins that cover to the textblock. The part of the endpaper which is pasted to a cover is called the Pastedown Endpaper, and the unattached half is called the Loose Endpaper. See Figure 5. Because endpapers play a prominent role in the binding of a Case Bound book, they are made from a stronger & heavier paper than Text Paper.

Engraving: An image printed from a metal plate, block of wood, or other material which has been properly incised to produce the desired image. Also called Etching. The technique covers both the work done by artists and mechanical reproduction methods. There are many different types of engravings used to illustrate or decorate books: aquatint, copperplate, dry point, gravure, halftone engraving, line engraving, & photoengraving.

Ephemera: From the Greek "ephemeron", meaning something that disappears quickly, the term refers to an enormous variety of printed paper items which were never intended to survive much past their ephemeral use or enjoyment. Postcards, bookmarks, photographs, programs, menus, tickets, playbills, broadsides, posters, & sports cards are examples, but anything which captures someone's fancy qualifies if it was regarded as mundane & unimportant in its time .

Errata Slip: A slip of paper Laid-in or Tipped-in a book giving corrections discovered by the publisher after the book has been printed & bound.

Ex-Library/Ex-Lib: A book which has signs that it was once owned by a public library or a private institution. The signs range from minimal, unobtrusive marks or stamps to a book laden with stampings, card pockets, catalog numbers on the spine, etc. While most libraries stamp books they have discarded to indicate that the book was not stolen nor lent & never returned, the practice is not universal. One should check with the library if a book lacking a discard stamp appears to be of unusual value. Some ex-library books may have been rebound in Buckram, a coarse linen which is heavier & more durable than the cloth used by publishers. The term itself does not imply anything about the condition of a book which may be quite decent. Ex-lib books, unless rare & important, are not collectible. Some out-of-print academic & scientific books, however, command high prices because their limited supply far exceeds the demand.

Ex-Libris: Literally "From the library of...", the term applies to a book from a private, personal library documented by the presence of a printed bookplate bearing the previous individual owner's name or initials. It does not apply to books once owned by a public library or a private institution which are described as Ex-Library.


Facsimile: A reproduction of a book which attempts to capture the appearance of the printing in the original in all respects. Facsimiles are often marked as such and, unlike attempts to create a fraudulent copy of a book, make no attempt to deceptively emulate all the signs of an old book such as using old paper replete with the expected defects from use. The term also refers to any photo illustration included in a book which has been taken from the original document, letter, etc.; or to any part of an original book which has been replaced with a reproduction.

Fading: Applied to a book's covers or dustjacket, fading indicates a loss of brightness and intensity of color (a graying-out). Caused by a book's exposure to ultraviolet light (sunlight or fluorescent light), it usually differs from a stain (which it can mimic) by having gradual demarcations rather than a fairly well-defined border. See also Darkening.

First & Second Printing Prior To Publication: When a publisher has had more orders for a book prior to the book's release date than were made in the first printing, a second printing is ordered. If both printings were made from the first setting of type or plates, both would be part of the first edition. The first printing would, however, have Priority.

First Edition: Often misused & abused, the strict meaning of the term is all of the copies printed from the first plates or typesetting, including any subsequent Press Runs using the same plates or typesetting. Many books do not have subsequent editions, but may have many printings by the same publisher. As generally used by book dealers & collectors, however, the term implies more than the strict definition when all first editions of a book lack the same Priority: it means a copy of the book in it earliest appearance. Thus, the first printing of two or more printings of a book's first editions would have priority; and if there are different states or issues among that first printing, the earliest of those.

How can there be differences among the books in a first run printing? There are two types.

Separate States are created when the presses are stopped during a printing to correct one or more problems such as typesetting errors, battered or broken type, or other accidental matters which the publisher or printer considers too minor to justify abandoning the partial run and starting over.

Separate Issues are created when a publisher intentionally decides to create differences (other than those requiring changes in the plates or typesetting) among the books produced during the first printing. Perhaps the publisher wishes to give customers a choice of bindings, type of paper, or even format. Whatever the case, if the first printing is without states, then issues become the focus for determining priority. Sometimes one issue can be determined to have priority over another (e.g. if the printer kept a record indicating the printing order) in which case one can identify a book as a first issue. More often, no priority can be established and the various issues are simply called Variants.

It is important to note that the question of priority turns on when the sheets for the text of a particular book were printed, not when the sheets were folded into gatherings, or the gatherings were bound. A different State of a first printing can be created even by the insertion of a cancel leaf after the book is bound provided that a portion of the first printing retained the original leaf. If the entire first printing has a cancel leaf, or all the books retaining the the first leaf were destroyed, then no States were created during the first printing.

The signs which enable states or issues to be distinguished are called Points.

First Edition Thus: An expression signaling a book is not a first edition by the original publisher, but a first edition of a later edition by another publisher. This usage gained currency due to the need to correctly described a book which was a first edition in a new appearance, particularly if there were additional editions or printings of the book by this publisher which need to be distinguished from one another. It is also used in the form of "First Thus" to indicate the presence of important revisions made by the original publisher to a later edition such as the addition or replacement of illustrations or an introduction, its first appearance under a new title, or a special commemorative edition.

First Trade Edition: When a publisher has issued a a Limited Edition of a book prior to release of the less artful edition intended for the general retail market, the former is the true first edition (or printing, if the same typesetting is used for both) while is the latter is distinguished as the Trade Edition.

Flyleaf: The blank leaf or leaves following the front free endpaper, and those (if any) preceding the back free endpaper. See Figure 5.

Font: A full set of printing type of the same design and size.

Fore Edge/ Foreedge: The collective edges of all the leaves opposite the spine or bound edge of a book. See Figure 5.


Foxing: Distinctive brownish stains, which can be specks, spots or larger blotches, appearing on the pages of a book. The cause or causes of foxing are not completely understood, but are fungoid or chemical in nature. Most commonly found in machine-made paper of the 19th century thru the 1950s which had a high acidic content. See Figure 13.

Frontispiece: An illustrative Plate among the preliminary pages, usually facing the title page .

Full Leather: A book whose boards & spine are bound uniformly in leather.


Gathering: The group of leaves formed when a single printed sheet has been folded into the leaves which will appear in the finished book. A series of these gatherings, arranged in the proper order, are then stitched together to form the Textblock of the book. See Figure 14.The term is also used in the plural to reference the entire series of individual gatherings prior to binding. Once bound, each individual gathering is called a Signature.

Figure 14

Glassine: A translucent, smooth, lightweight, dense paper which has been coated with silicon (or a similar agent that inhibits adhesion to another surface) and intensely calendered (smoothing between rollers). It is greaseproof & and moderately resistant to the passage of moisture & air. Most commonly used for food packaging & holding stamps, occasionally it make an appearance as a dustjacket.

Gilt: A thin layer of gold, or something with the appearance of gold.

Gilt Edge: Gilt has been applied to the specific edge(s) named.

Gilt-Lettered: Lettering which has been printed by gilt-stamping. Mostly found on the front cover & spine giving the title & author, books will occasionally be found with decorative text printed in gilt, such as title pages, chapter heads, etc.

Figure 15

Giltstamped: While this term originally referenced the literally stamping of gold foil into a book's leather binding, it now describes the appearance of having this earlier decorative technique on leather, cloth or board bindings. Essentially, it a blindstamping with the addition of a gilt-colored substance. See Figure 7 and the spine of Figure 15.

Glossy: Used to described the bindings or covers of books bound in both Wraps & paper-covered boards which have been Laminated .

Gutter: The trough formed by the adjacent inner margins of facing pages in a book. See Figure 5.


Half Bound: A book in which the spine and corners are bound in a different material (usually a better material such as leather) than the remainder of the boards which can be covered with plain paper, marbled paper, or cloth. Although infrequently found, there are half-bindings with foreedge trim in which the spine & the right edge of the cover(s) are trimmed with the center portion covered in cloth or paper. See Figure 15.

Half-Title A page which usually precedes the full title page bearing only the title of the book, or sometimes an abbreviated title if the full title is rather long.

Headband: A narrow cloth band, sometimes colored or multi-colored, appearing inside the top and/or bottom of the spine cover. Originally, during the hand-sewn period, it was intended to add strength. Since the advent of machine sewing, the presence of such bands is imitative & decorative See Figure 16.

Figure 16

Head(s)/ Headpiece: A decorative device or motif consisting of a small illustration or ornament found at the start of each chapter or other divisions within a book. Often, but not always, a motif is repeated with or without slight variations with each use.

Hinge: The flexible channel where the paste-down endpaper meets the free endpaper is the visually evident location of a hinge in an intact book. The entirety of the hinge, in both hand & machine bound books, is concealed behind the endpapers. For example, as discussed in the above entry for a Case Bound book, the hinges of a machine bound book include the gauze extensions glued over the spine and onto both covers. Thus, most descriptions of defective hinges implicitly reference more than the channel (See Shaken). The term is often used incorrectly as interchangeable with the term Joint, the proper name of the flexible groove where the cover Panels of a books meet the spine cover. See Figure 5.


Impression: In the context of a collector's interest in the process of printing books, the actual copies printed during any given Press Run. See Printing, with which it is synonymous, for additional information. It is also used to reference the run itself.

Imprint: Used as a noun to reference:

(1) the publisher & any publication information given on a title page or in a colophon such as where & when it was published;
(2) a name under which a general publisher issues a special or distinctive line of books, or continues to issue books after acquiring another publisher who used that name.       Amistad Press, an imprint of Harper-Collins, publishes works by and about people of African descent. It also uses the William Morrow imprint, a publisher founded in         1926 it acquired in 1999; and
(3) printed material from a specific location or period of time, e.g. an auction lot of early 19th century Philadelphia imprints.

Issue: Created when a publisher intentionally decides to create differences (other than those requiring changes in the plates or typesetting) among the books produced during the first printing. Perhaps the publisher wishes to give customers a choice of bindings, type of paper, or even format. If the first printing is without States, then issues become the focus for determining Priority. Sometimes one issue can be determined to have priority over another (e.g. if the printer kept a record indicating the printing order) in which case one can identify a book as a first issue. More often, no priority can be established and the various issues are simply called Variants.


Joint: See HINGE and Figure 5.


Label: A small, simply-shaped piece of paper, or other material, applied to the spine or cover of a book on which is printed at least the book's title & author. While occasionally a label may have a very simple decorative design, they should not be confused with Paste-Down Illustrations which serve a different function.

Laid In: Printed material inserted among the leaves of a book, but not sewn, glued or otherwise attached. The material may have been laid-in when the book was issued, accompanied the book separately & laid-in or not at the option of the buyer, or not originally issued in or with the book & placed in the book later because of its special relevance to the book. The latter is a catch-all for items whose inclusion could arguably give the book more value or interest, but would certainly not include incidental insertions such as make-do page markers, pressed flowers, or even money.

Laid Paper: A handmade paper used in some books which shows marks (called chain lines) cause by the wire ribs supporting the paper in framed molds. The resulting sheets of paper have parallel wire marks about an inch apart (always parallel to the short side of the sheet) and deckled edges. The chain lines are easily seen when laid paper is held to the light. While laid paper was the only paper available to the early hand-press printers, it is still made today for special edition books and other purposes. The pattern can also be imitated on machine-made papers, so seeing apparent chain lines is not necessarily an indicator of handmade paper or the age of the book.

Lamination: The application of a transparent plastic film, usually with a high gloss finish, to the surface of paper-based book covers to enhance its appearance & durability. Lamination has often been applied to the covers of modern Paperbacks, and more recently widely used in books bound in both Wraps of all sizes and books in paper-covered boards. Common defects in laminated covers are peeling, lifting & bubbles.

Leaf: The entirety of the single piece of paper both sides of which are a page in a book, i.e. each side of a leaf contains one page. Leaves can be printed or blank.

Library Binding: A book bound for, or upon the request of, a library in a binding material with greater strength & durability than the binding used by the publisher for general retail distribution (called Publisher's Binding). Library bindings are characterized by the use of a strong Buckram, strengthen endpapers, muslin-reinforced end signatures, use of 4-cord thread in the sewing, & reinforcement (backlining) of the spine with fabric. Some books are issued in both a publisher's binding & a library binding when the publisher anticipates a book will be heavily purchased by libraries. Other books are rebound by a library before circulation due to their fragility, or in an effort to restore or preserve a valuable book not easily replaced. Library bindings are also found on bound periodical, pamphlets, and other printed material in need of preservation.

Limited Edition: A book whose publication is, in whole or part, deliberately restricted to a comparatively small number of copies. Some limited editions are the only editions or printings of the book while others are an special edition released prior to the less artful copies of the book intended for the general retail market. True limited editions should give at least the total number printed, are usually numbered (e.g. "Number 552 of 1,000"), and may be signed by the author and/or illustrator. Limited editions are not necessarily valuable; and the so-called limited editions, which some unscrupulous publishers produce in large numbers or in whatever quantity can be sold, are rarely of any value. A true limited edition book which is not numbered (despite having an obvious place for the number to be written or stamped) are called Out Of Series. These are extra copies printed to replace defective or lost copies prior to their release, and are considered of less value by collectors being, as it were, the understudies of the limit edition.

Limp: A flexible binding which allows the covers of a book to be easily bent. The flexibility of the covers is achieved by the use of naturally limber material and the absence of supporting Boards. The term does not apply to paperbacks or other paper bindings, but is reserved for non-paper binding materials, particularly soft leather or imitations thereof.


Loose: A term indicating that the subject in not completely detached, but is either only partially attached or no longer firmly attached. See Shaken & Started


Marbled: Paper decorated with a pattern imitating marble. The pattern is achieved by swirling multi-colored, oily inks floating on water. Marbled papers were often used on paper covered boards (particularly those 1/2 or 1/4 bound with leather) & endpapers. The decorative technique can also be found on edges of older books. Real marbled paper was common in the 19th century, but more recent books using this pattern are most often lithographic imitations detectable by their comparable lack of color depth & intensity.

Margin: Any one of the 4 spaces between the edges of a book's page & its printed content: text, illustrations, figures, charts, ... whatever.

Misbound: A book in which the signatures were sewn together in an improper order.


No Date: Indicates that no Date of Publication is given in the book. This phrase may be followed by a date in parenthesis giving the Copywrite Date which is not indicative of when the book was published; or a date in braces [ ] which gives a date of publication, or an estimate thereof, determined from sources other than those provided in the book. .

No Place: Indicates that book does not disclose where it was published. If the location of the printer is given, this may be information of interest, but should not be regarded as the place of publication since the printer could easily be located in another city or even country.


Obverse: The right-hand page of Leaf in a book. Also called the Recto.

Open Tear: A tear in which the two sides are irregular, ragged, chipped, or otherwise uneven due to missing paper. See Closed Tear

Opened: Generally only noteworthy when all or some of the Leaves are Unopened, the term means that some or all of the leaves in a book formed by folding a single printed sheets into a Gathering have been cut open allowing each leaf to be turned apart from the others in the same gathering.

Out-of-Print: A book which is currently not being printed. This might seem to cover the situation adequately, but there are several cautionary matters worth noting about the implications of this status regarding a book's availability and scarcity. The expression has a somewhat formal meaning within the book publishing, distributing & sales industry. A publisher is expected (but not required) to place a written notice in Publisher’s Weeklyy declaring that the publisher has ceased offering the book for sale & has no current plans to do additional printing runs. This declaration does not necessarily mean that the publisher has no copies of the book in stock since notice is generally given before the publisher's stock has been depleted. Sometimes, however, the remaining copies have been purchased by the author and are now available only from that source, or these copies have been Remaindered to a distributor at a highly discounted price. Remaindering is a sure sign that copies of the book are easily available and probably will be for some time. A publisher's lack of copies does not mean they are not still available (even in abundance) from distributors & retailers who have not exhausted their previously acquired stock. So to, the declaration that the publisher has no current plans to do additional printings does not necessarily preclude the publisher from issuing an updated, expanded, or otherwise revised edition at a later date. Finally, if the rights to a discontinued book have reverted to the author, the author may find another publisher or self-publisher the book in the same or a new edition. These last two points are important because many out-of-print, non-fiction books which have lost their desirability & value due to the issuance of revised.

Out-of-Series: Extra copies of a true Limited Edition printed only to replace defective or lost copies prior to release. These copies will lack a written or stamped number indicating their place in the series in the blank spaces provided in the book for that information, and will probably not signed by the author and/or illustrator. These are not counted among the number of copies to which the edition is limited, nor do collectors value them as more than understudies of the limit edition.


Figure 17
Paste-Down Illustration

Page: One side of a Leaf. The front side of a leaf is called the recto or obverse and the back side of the leaf is called the verso or the reverse.

Panel: Specifically refers to the front or back of a book's covers. Often used instead of the somewhat ambiguous term Covers to clarify that reference is being made to only the front &/or back of the cover and does not include the Spine cover. Panel is also used in the same manner to refer only to the front &/or back of a dustjacket.

Panelled: Describes a book cover on which ruled lines form a rectangular area for the purpose of creating a frame or border surrounding printed, illlustrative or decorative matter done in blindstamping or giltstamping. Also known as panel compartments.

Paste Action: Discoloration on a book's endpapers caused by the glue used to attach the paste-down endpapers to the inside of the covers. The discoloration can range from a faint tan to a heavy browning. All or part of the paste-down endpapers can be affected, as well as the loose endpapers when the paste bleeds into them.

Paste-Down Endpaper: The portion of the endpaper pasted to the inside of a book's cover. See Figure 5.

Paste-Down Illustration: A paper illustration applied to the front cover of a book bound in cloth or boards. Books bearing such illustrations are also described as having an applied pictorial cover. The illustration, almost always in color, was printed on a fairly heavy paper & then glued to the cover. See Figure 17.

Photolithographic: Refers generally to the printing processes used in the modern era, which replaced Lithographic methods, to create book illustrations. Called planographic printing, these processes use printing plates made from photographic images.

Photoplay Edition: A book illustrated with still photographs of scenes from a motion picture based on the book, or a book based on the motion picture's script. The former, which is most often the case, is not a first edition. Photoplay editions can be more valuable than first editions if the movie has inspired more interest than the book upon which it was based. When this is not true, even as a later edition they have greater value than other later editions of the book because they are collected in their own right, valued by collectors of the actors or others responsible for the film, or collectors of the author or things pertaining to the film itself. Photoplay editions soared in popularity during the 1920s and declined rather rapidly thereafter.

Plates: A full-page illustration in a book whose reverse side is blank & without text, or contains another full-page illustration. The plates, particularly in older books, are generally printed on paper of a better quality than the text pages and are Coated. Many recent books, however, use coated paper for both, and often have more than one photographic illustration on a page each labeled as a plate. Where this is the case, descriptions in this catalog give the number of plates so labeled. It is not uncommon in older books to find plates "Tipped-in, i.e. glued-in after all the Gatherings were sewn together as opposed to being added during the binding process. Many of the plates in older books have a protective thin leaf of tissue-like paper called Tissue Guards placed between a plate's pictorial page & the opposing page. Smaller illustrations printed on the text pages of a book are called Cuts.

Points: Characteristics that enable one to establish the Priority between the First Edition of a book and others, or between the States or Issues within a first edition. The distinguishing signs are usually printing or textual errors, but can also include evidence of the use of worn or broken type, misplaced pagination numerals, misordered signatures, canceled leaves, etc .

Preliminary Pages: The printed pages preceding the main text of a book, which may include and are often in the following order: Half-Title, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, Preface or Forward, Table Of Contents, List Of Illustrations, Introduction, Acknowledgments, & 2nd Half-title. Many books will not have all the preliminary pages listed, and some may have non-printed pages (e.g. tissue guarded leaves) interspersed. Particularly in older books, the preliminary pages are numbered with Roman numerals, if numbered at all.

Presentation Copy: A copy of a book which, either through self-evidence or by way of its Provenance, can be authenticated as one someone was given by the author. An author's inscription is the most common self-evidence.

Press Run: With regard to books, the copies printed by a press in any period(s) of its continuous operation during the printing of a job, i.e. a specific number ordered by a publisher. Since a book collector's only interest in a press run is whether it created any States which could determine Priority among the books printed during the run, some hedging needs to be introduced about what is "continuos operation". Book printed during the handpress period can almost be exempted from this discussion, but those printed after this period necessarily require that not all occasions on which a press is stopped should count as the end of a press run since the types of failure that a press could suffer have increased with the steady evolution toward more sophisticated presses. The temporary stopping of an old steam-powered press to repair a broken belt or replace a bad gasket in the engine, or the many possible temporary mechanical & electrical failures of modern presses, are all examples of stoppages which would result in no discernible differences between what was printed before & after. Thus, stoppages not in anyway affecting the printed product (not demarcating States) are not counted as relevant.
The term is also used to refer to the number of copies printed in one such continuous operation.

Price-Clipped: Said of a dustjacket that has had the publisher's suggested price clipped, which very most often appears in a corner of one of its inner flaps. Most commonly done by publishers and distributors themselves for various reasons, a much smaller number have been clipped before given as gifts. This is serious defects for collectors of first edtions who seek copies in the same complete condition as they were originally issued. Since Book Club Editions can often be identified by their dustjackets lacking a price on the corner of an innner flap, the absence of that corner raises the possibility that it was removed to conceal its more humble origins.

Printing: As a noun, the actual copies printed during any given Press Run. Any number of printings can be made of a particular Edition provided the same plates or typesetting are used for each. Confusion can arise because some publishers in the 19th & earlier part of the 20th centuries used edition rather than printing to designate what were actually later printings rather than later editions, e.g. the copyright page would state "Third Edition" with the book lacking any discernible differences from the prior "editions". Synonymous with Impression

Priority : The status of a particular book with regard to its earliness among other Issues or States, each of which is characterized by a different set of Points. To say that a copy of a book in State C (defined by some set of points) has priority over a copy in State B (a different set of points) means that C was produced earlier than B. If State C and State B are said to have no priority, then there is no evidence yet available to determine which, if any, is earlier.

Private Press: An expression which once had a fairly clear reference to a small printer/publisher, or lone craftsperson, who eschewed the commercial book market in favor of producing small quantities of finely printed, special-interest, or otherwise limited market books. Today, the term has became so stretched as a marketing image that caution & research are advisable to determine which, if any, of the original characteristics a publisher may possess. There have been, however, many private presses over the years which deserve the reputation & respect the term once implied, so there are pleasant rewards for those willing to expend a little extra effort.

Privately Printed/ Self-Published: A book printed at the expense of an individual or a group which was usually intended either for private circulation rather than public sale, or for sale to a limited market of interested persons through means other than commercial book market. Occasionally, some privately printed books are bought by book distributors from the author, but typically it is the person or the group who market & distribute such publication. Thus, the essential characteristic of a privately printed book is that the publisher is the author.

Figure 18
Quarter Bound

Promotional Wrapper A dustjacket-like wrapper which wraps around a dustjacket, the book itself, or a slipcase. Such wrappers are generally about half the size of a dustjacket, and are used to promote the book itself (an auto-promotional wrapper), a related motion picture, another book by the same publisher, etc. Promotional wrappers are also found on magazines.

Provenance: The history of a particular book's ownership, possession, or custody. Aside from stolen books, provenance only becomes an issue when a book is represented as being one owned by somebody sufficiently important in themselves or someone related to the book in an important way. A full provenance (one providing a continuous account of the successive transfers of ownership, possession & custody from the book's origins to it's present status) is not necessary to support a book's value if the representation being made is limited to some lesser period of the book's history. A legitimate provenance must be supported by documentary rather than anecdotal or hearsay evidence, e.g. internal evidence such as signatures & bookplates, or external evidence like auction or booksellers' records & estate inventories.

Publisher: In its full sense, a person or business engaged in the complete production of books from the acquisition & editing of manuscripts through their distribution & marketing. Although the term brings to mind established publishing companies (often called Publishing Houses), it can apply to anyone who is responsible for performing or overseeing whatever activities are required to produce a one or more books. See Private Press and Privately Printed.


Quarter Bound: A book whose spine & a small adjacent area of the Panels is bound in a different material than the reminder of the panels. Generally the spine cover is of a better material than that used on the panels, e.g. leather or cloth where the covers are boards or paper-covered boards. Given boarder use of materials & their combination in more recent books, books are now quarter bound with different colored or textured clothes & papers, imitation leather, various plastics, etc. Thus, a description in the form "1/4 XX & YY" means the spine is bound in XX and the covers in YY. Figures 18 and 19 show various 1/4 bindings.

Quire: Another name for SIGNATURE.

Figure 19
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Raised Band: A raised, horizontal band across the spine of a book. Prior to early in the 19th century when books were bound by hand, two or more leather bands were stretched across the spine of a book and a cord was tied to each side of each band. These cords were stretched across the front & back boards & tightly tied to the foreedge of each board as shown in Figure 20. The leather binding was then molded around the raised bands concealing the cords as seen in Figure 15. After this "tying up" period ended with the introduction of Case Binding, the appearance of raised band remained popular and are still used today as a purely decorative device.

Reading Copy: A copy of a book in Fair to Poor condition you would buy only for the purpose of reading or using as a reference due to it undesirable condition. If the book in better condition were collectible, and worth the investment, such a book might be a candidate for rebinding. Generally, however, such a book is a sad case of heavy wear, use & abuse which has the single virtue of possessing at least all of its text pages.

Recto: The right-hand (front) side of a leaf in a bound book. Also called the Obverse.

Release Date: Very similar to the Date of Publication, but implies a more specific date announced in advanced by the publisher when the book will be available for sale.

Figure 20
Raised Bands

Remainder: When a book is overstocked in the inventory of a publisher, and has ceased to sell, a publisher may depose of the unsold copies by remaindering, i.e. selling them to book distributor or booksellers at a heavy discount which may even be below cost. Also called Publisher’s Overstock.

Remainder Mark: Many publishers mark the bottom or top edges of books which they have sold as remainders to identify a book as having been discounted. The marks include lines made with a marker pen, ink stamps, & even speckling with spray paint. Remainder marks destroy a book's collectibility even if it is otherwise in "as new" condition.

Reverse: The left-hand (back) side of a leaf in a bound book. Also called the Verso.

Rubbed: Wear or scuffing on some part of a book's covers, spine extremes, or edges. The origin of the expression is that the wear is due to the rubbing the book has experienced during frequent re-shelvings, but the expression has been generalize to reference the results rather than the source of rubbing. Rubbing can be light or heavy. . At its worse, rubbing may have exposed the cardboard beneath the layer of cloth or paper covering the boards; and the corners may have become rounded. More serious wear (scuffs, scrapes, or similar defects) due to abuse more than use are not properly covered by this term and should be described separately.

Ruling: As applied to a decorative element used in a book or on its covers, a straight line printed, Blindstamped, or stamped with gilt or another color. A single ruling creates a line which can be used for demarcating or other purposes; polygonal figures are created using several rulings and are often used to enclose printed or stamped text, such as titles, or to surround illustrative or other decorative devices . See Figure 21.

Figure 21
Book Rulings

Salesman Sample: A sample book designed by the publisher for use by door-to-door salespeople. These abbreviated books attempted to capture the most appealing features of a book and included at least the title page, several text pages, and some of the illustrations (if any). If the book was available in a choice of bindings, samples were often included in the book. Many also included a few pages in the back designed as a sales record for the salesperson. Door-to-door book sales were an important marketing tool for many publishers in rural and small town area which lacked ready access to bookstores. Books which were "Sold By Subscription Only" were also marketed in this way by smaller publishers who attempted to print no more books than those necessary to fill a known demand.

Self-Published: See PRIVATELY PRINTED.

Self-Wraps / Self-Wrapper: A paperback book whose covers imitate a dustjacket (wrapper) by having a flap which folds under the front & back cover.

Self-Wrappers: A pamphlet whose front & back paper covers are printed on the same paper stock used for the text, i.e. the covers are the first leaf of the first signature and the final leaf of the last signature. Most almanacs & other cheaply produced pamphlets use self-wrappers. Not to be confused with Wraps.

Shaken: A defect which indicates that the Textblock is becoming loose in its binding, but remains attached. The term suffers from a lack of specificity as to exactly what is causing the defect or its severity. A lightly shaken book will probably have its spine cover pulled away from the back of the textblock leaving the textblock & its Signatures still being held fairly well by the Hinges alone. Heavily shaken implies the textblock is wobbling between the covers because it has lost all but the most tenuous connection to the binding. The usual cause of the defect is rough use of the book after the binding glue has dried & disintegrated.

Sheets: The large sheets of paper with which a printer begins the process of printing a book and which are folded into Gatherings after both sides are printed.

Signature: A Gathering of leaves which has been bound & trimmed with other gatherings to form the Textblock of a book. See Figure 5. Also refers to the small identifying marks (usually lower case letters) printed and so placed on the printer's Sheets as to appear at the beginning of each folded gathering, thus aiding the binder to assemble the gatherings in the correct order.

Figure 22

Significant Defect: See BOOK CONDITIONS

Slipcase: A protective box with one open side into which one or a set of volumes is "slipped" with the spine(s) facing outward.

Spine: Used ambiguously to refer either to:

(1) the part of a book's cover which wraps over the back of the book (also called the Backstrip or Spine Cover); or
(2) the back portions of the attached Signatures which form the rear edge of the Textblock (also called the Backbone).
Fortunately, the context in which the term is used rarely causes confusion. See Figure 22.

Spine Lining: In a case bound book, the strip of cloth or cardboard which, along with the hinges, attaches the textblock to the case. In case books using this construction (many today do not), the spine lining also functions to reinforce the hinges The cloth is glued to the back of the textblock (the spine) and to the inside of both boards. As is shown in the yellow strip in Figure 5, the spine lining is concealed by the spine cover and by the paste-down endpapers. An actual spine lining is shown in Figure 22.

Started / Starting: Announces the presence in a book of early signs that some loosening defect is emerging, but has not yet flowered. Used to indicate that some Leaves or Signatures comprising the Textblock are "becoming" (but are not yet) Loose, or that a Joint or Hinge is weakening, but has not yet decided to Crack.

State: A portion of a Printing where the presses are stopped to correct one or more problems such as typesetting errors, battered or broken type, or other accidental matters which the publisher or printer considers too minor to justify abandoning the partial run and starting over. The insertion of Cancels, advertisements, use of a different paper without the intention of creating a separate Issue, are among other alterations which create States. It is worth noting that because the issue of Priority turns on when the sheets for a book were printed, and not when the sheets were folded into gatherings or the gatherings were bound, a different state of a first printing can be created even by the insertion of a cancel leaf after the book is bound provided that a portion of the first printing retained the original leaf. The portion with the original leaf would have priority. If the entire first printing has a cancel leaf, or all the books retaining the the original leaf were destroyed, then no States were created during the first printing. The most common errors are those in the type settings due to the earlier practice of some printing houses to continuing the press run while the first proof sheet for a book was examined by a proofreader. While this kept the press operators from being idle, it was not uncommon for both the corrected & uncorrected Sheets to be used thereby creating two States during the printing. See also First Edition.

Sunned: The discoloration by fading of a book's binding or dust jacket by exposure to strong light over time. Ultraviolet frequencies, which are the most damaging, are found in both natural & some artificial light.


Tanning: See BROWNING.

Text Figures: See CUTS

Text Paper: The type of paper upon which the text in a specific book is printed, assuming that the same paper type has been used for all text-printed pages. The term is used when there is a need to distinguish the text paper and the other paper portions of a book such as the plates, endpapers, covers, etc.

Textblock: The part of a book, consisting of all & only the sewn or glued Signatures forming its leaves, which is bound by, but does not include, the Covers or the Endpapers both of which are part of the binding. The textblock in a machine-made, hardcover book is what is enclosed in the Binding Case. See Figure 5.

Tipped-in: Describes material glued into a book which was not part of the printed Gatherings and added at a later stage in the book's making, or as a means of reattaching loose or detached material to salvage a book. The candidates for such material in both cases are Leaves, Plates and Errata Slips. The procedure differs from that used to insert a Cancel Leaf where glue is applied to a stub created from an existing leaf, but it is accomplished in two ways. In the case of leaves or errata slips, a thin line of glue attaches the insert directly to the inner margin of the appropriate text page. Plates can be inserted in this manner, but are more often found attached along their upper edge to a blank page larger than the plate itself.

Tissue Guards: Commonly in the 19th century, and to a lesser extent thereafter, some publishers placed a protective thin leaf of tissue-like paper between a Plate & the opposing page. Some books may have all plates so protected, or only the Frontispiece. Most tissue guards are blank, but occasionally they are found with a printed caption about the plate. A book missing one or more tissues guards is a very minor defect generally ignored by collectors.

Figure 23
Uncut Edge

Toned / Toning: See BROWNING

Tooled/ Tooling: See Blindstamping:

Top Edge Gilt [or Other Color]: Gilt or another named color has been applied to the top edge of the book .

Trade Edition: Used to distinguish an edition of a book published for the general retail market from a Limited Edition of the same book.


Unauthorized Edition: An edition of a title published without the sanction of whomever holds the legal rights to the work, i. e. the author, the author's legal representative, the copyright holder, or the original publisher. Because issuing an unauthorized edition within the country in which it was originally published would be an infringement on those legal rights protected by that country's copywrite laws, such "pirated" editions usually originate in a foreign country.

Unbound: Describes a book which has never been bound, but exists in one or another pre-bound state such as in its sheets, gatherings, or signatures. Proper use of the term implies that all sheets, gatherings or signatures necessary for a complete copy of the book are present. An unbound book is one who has yet to marry a cover while a disbound book is one who has divorced its cover.

Uncut: Refers to the the untrimmed state of one or more of the edges of a book. Most books have their edges trimmed to produce the appearance of a uniform, smooth surface. An uncut edge has a rough, ragged appearance as do the edges of the leaves comprising the edge. The origin of uncut pages goes back to the handmade paper era where paper made in a mold resulted in the edges of printing Sheets being uneven & feathery. In fact, this paper was called Deckle Edged because the mold included a removable frame, the deckle, against which the edge of the molded paper was formed. When these sheet were printed, folded into Gatherings, and the gatherings sewn or glued together, some or all of these raggedy edges (called Bolts) could be trimmed or left in their untrimmed state. Books with uncut edges have been deliberately manufactured ever since the handmade paper era, so their presence is not indicative of age. They may even be found on some book club edition, as well as fine & limited editions which may actually use handmade paper. See Figure 23.

Unopened: A book whose leaves are still attached to the other leaves in its Signatures because the folds of its signatures have never been cut open. The leaves so affected can not be opened to read the pages without cutting the folds with a knife. A book can have some or all of its leaves unopened. Not to be confused with Uncut.

Unpaginated -: A book whose pages are not numbered, i.e. lack printed numerals, Arabic or Roman.


Vanity Press: A printing house which produces books solely at an author's expense. The term tends to have the pejorative implication that an author's vanity must far exceed his/her talent to need to bear the cost of having his/her book published. While this may true in many cases, there are less vain reasons for this arrangement as mentioned under Privately Printed. Vanity printing houses do not market, distribute, or otherwise act as publishers, and the authors retain all ownership rights in the books so printed.

Variants: Books ( Issues ) that a publisher intends to create which differ in one or more features from others in the same Press Run, but between which no Priority can be established. Features creating different issues are exemplified by differences in bindings, paper quality, endpapers, or a title stamped on one cover in gilt & red on another, etc. See also First Edition.

Verso: The left-hand (back) side of a leaf in a bound book. Also called the Reverse.

Figure 24
Spiral Wire Bound

Wire Bound: A book bound by a helix-shaped wire, each coil of which penetrates a small hole punched through the left edge of the covers & the leaves of the book. See Figure 24.

Wrapper: Another name for a dustjacket. Note that "wrapper" and "wrappers" have distinctly different meanings.

Wraps or Wrappers: The paper covers used to bound a book, pamphlet, magazine or other "soft cover" reading material, but is distinguished from Self-Wrappers because the paper used is distinctly different from the Text Paper. Wraps are made of a heavier weight paper (although always flexible & less than board grade) than the text paper, and may be coated, textured or have various finishes. Although the common paperback books published since the 1930s are bound in wraps, they are usually described as paperbacks or as soft bound. Wrappers should not be be confused with Dustwrapper or Wrapper.

© 2003 Henry F. Hain III

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