Please find following a glossary of terms used in the catalogue entries on our web site. Please let us know if there are any words that you think we ought to add.

  • Sources

    Carter, John
    ABC for Book Collectors
    Oak Knoll Press, 1995

    Congalton, Tom and Gregory, Dan,
    What bookdealers really mean. A dictionary by Tom Congalton and Dan Gregory

    Franco, Edgar
    Dictionary of Terms and Expressions Commonly Used in the Antiquarian Book Trade
    n.p., I.L.A.B. 1994

    International Fine Print Dealers Association
    What is a Print

    International League of Antiquarian Booksellers

  • a.e.g


    All edges gilt, gilt applied to top edge, bottom edge and fore-edge of the volume.

    French: tranches dorées
    German: Goldschnitt

  • a.e.m


    All edges marbled, marbling applied to top edge, bottom edge and fore-edge of volume.

    French: tranches marbrées
    German: Farbschnitt

  • Allegorical print


    A print representing a universal truth by using imagery. Often using a classical theme.

  • ALS


    Autograph letter signed, letter handwritten by the person signing the letter as opposed to LS, which is a manuscript letter written by someone other than the signer.

  • Advertisements


    Leaves in a book, or text on a map advertising other works by the same publisher, often located at the back of the volume, following the text pages.

    French: Publicité
    German: Verlagsanzeigen

  • All published


    The book or set is complete as is, and any additional parts or volumes were never published.

    French: Seuls publiés
    German: Alles Erschienene
    Swedish: Allt som utkommit

  • Annotated


    Including critical and explanatory notes

    Danish: Forsynet med noter
    Dutch: Geannoteerd
    French: Annoté
    German: Kommentierte Ausgabe
    Italian: Annotato
    Spanish: Anotado
    Swedish: Med noter, med anmärkningar

  • Aquatint


    An intaglio engraving technique in which gradations of tone or shadow are produced rather than sharp lines; often this technique is used in conjunction with etching for images that can resemble watercolour washes. In this process the artist applies a granular, acid-resistant ground to the plate before submerging it in an acid bath that “bites” in and around the granules creating large areas of texture. The use of grounds with varying granule sizes produces different degrees of tone. Aquatints were frequently coloured by hand after printing.

    French: Aquatinte
    German: Aquatinta

  • Armorial bearing


    More commonly called a “coat of arms”, is a design or image, normally depicted on a shield, for distinguishing persons of, and within, a family.

    Danish: Våbenskjold
    Dutch: Blazoen, wapenschild
    French: Blason
    German: Wappensupralibros
    Italian: Blasone, stemma
    Spanish: Blasón
    Swedish: Vapensköld

  • Association copy


    A book or pamphlet that has some indication of having belonged to the author or someone closely associated with them.

    Swedish: Associationsexemplar

  • Beveled edges


    When the edges of the boards are noticeably tapered.

  • Binding


    The method of holding pages or sheets together; may be simply stapled or sewn, or sewn and enclosed in wrappers, but most often refers to a "hard" binding or covers. This type of binding may be covered with cloth, various leathers, or paper over boards or other more exotic materials. The following terms relate primarily to leather bindings:

    Full binding: volume is entirely encased in leather (calf, sheep, morocco, etc.)

    Three quarter binding: volume has leather spine and corners that occupy approx. 3/4 of the space along top edge of board (cover). The remainder of the board is covered with marbled paper, plain paper, cloth, different leather, etc.

    Half binding: the spine and corner leather occupy only approximately 1/2 of top edge.

    Quarter binding: usually lacks leather corners and leather of the spine occupies only approx. 1/4 of the top edge.

  • Blanks


    Refers to a blank page that is left intentionally in the book. It can be located at beginning of the book, at the end of a clearly marked division, and/or at the end of book. Also known as blank leaves or printer's blanks.

    French: Feuillets blancs
    German: Weißes Blatt
    Swedish: Blankt blad

  • Blind stamp


    Decoration, picture, or lettering that has been impressed into the binding with a metal stamp prepared for the purpose, resulting in a "blind" (meaning uncoloured) decoration, picture or lettering.

    Danish: Blindtryk
    Dutch: Blindstempeling
    French: Motifs à froid
    German: Blindprägung
    Italian: Impressioni a secco
    Spanish: Dorado en frio
    Swedish: Blind tryck

  • Boards


    the covers of a hard bound book; the boards are the stiff cardboard or paperboard that is usually covered with cloth or leather; and when covered with paper, the covers are properly referred to as "boards". Many pre-1850 books were issued by the publishers bound in boards (paper covered), allowing for an inexpensive binding that could later be replaced with leather by a hand book binder. Early (medieval) manuscript volumes were often bound between two oak boards, hence the probable origin of this term.

  • Book formats


    the traditional terms in use for describing book formats are derived from early printing methodology and the size of early handmade sheets of paper. When two leaves (four pages when printed on both sides) were printed on a sheet so that it could be folded once, collated with other folded sheets and bound, the format of the volume was a "folio". When four leaves (eight pages) were printed on the same size sheet, which would later be folded twice, the format of the resultant volume was a "quarto" (four leaves). The term "octavo" relates to the sheet having eight leaves printed on it.

  • Bookplate


    A simple or elaborately designed label used to indicate ownership, which is usually found pasted to the inside of the front cover of a book.

  • Bookworm


    any of a number of moth or fly larvae that tunnel through the pages of books leaving behind small channels, holes in individual leaves.

  • Broadside


    a printing on a single sheet of paper and only on one side; the verso (other side) is blank. When printed on both sides, the sheet becomes a "broadsheet".

    French: Voir Affiche
    German: Flugschriften

  • Broadsheet


    a printing that occurs on both sides of a single leaf (see also broadside).

    French: Affiche
    German: Einblattdruck
    Swedish: Ettbladstryc

  • Buckram


    a stiff, coarsely woven, filled cloth used for less expensive, but stronger wearing, cloth book binding material.

  • Calf


    book binding leather from a calf hide or cattle hide; a commonly used material for leather binding (see also morocco, sheep, and vellum).

    Danish: Kalveskind
    Dutch: Kalfsleer
    French: Veau
    German: Kalbleder
    Italian: Vitello
    Spanish: Piel de becerro, becerrillo
    Swedish: Kalvskinn

  • Cancel leaf

    a new leaf, often the title page, to which changes have been made, which is glued onto the narrow stub left by the removed leaf which has been excised.

  • Cartouche


    A tablet, for inscription (e.g. the titling of maps) or ornament.

    French: Cartouche
    German: Kartusche

  • Case


    The covers enclosing a book, usually made of thick cardboard, or a specially made case for a book or map.

    French: Emboîtage
    German: Kassette

  • Catalogue raisonné


    A catalogue raisonné is a documentary listing of all the works by an artist that are known at the time of compilation.

  • Chemise


    a case or folding tray into which a book or map is laid, usually used in conjunction with a case into which the chemise is slipped (a slipcase).

    Danish: Omslag
    Dutch: Omslag, stofomslag
    French: Chemise
    German: Sammelmappe
    Italian: Camicia
    Spanish: Camisa
    Swedish: Omslag

  • Chromolithography


    Colour printing from multiple impositions of lithographic stones or similar lithographic printing surfaces.

    Danish: Farvelitografi
    Dutch: Chromolithographie
    French: Chromolithographie
    German: Chromolithographie
    Italian: Cromolitografia
    Spanish: Cromo-litografía
    Swedish: Färgliitografi

  • Clasp


    Clasps, like bosses and corner-pieces, were part of the protective armour of medieval (and post-medieval) bindings. A clasp, either of metal with a hinge, or with an intervening strip of leather or textile, on one board snapped into a catch on the other. Its object was to keep the book closed, relieving any strain on the joints from casual movement. In England and France the clasp was on the upper board, the catch on the lower; elsewhere in Europe the positions were reversed.

    Danish: Spænde
    Dutch: Slot, klamp
    French: Fermoirs
    German: Schließe
    Italian: Fermaglio
    Spanish: Cierre
    Swedish: Knäppe

  • Cloth


    Bookbinding material woven from cotton, linen, wool or synthetic fibres.

  • Cockled


    Refers to the condition of a book or sheet of paper; the wrinkled, puckered, waving, or curling condition of a page or of the boards of a book, which is caused by non-uniform drying and shrinkage. If the cockled page is made of vellum, the condition is caused by humidity. In the case of paper or board, the condition is caused by heat and humidity. In the case of book covers, it can be caused by the use of the wrong type of adhesive or too much adhesive.

  • Collation


    used in descriptive bibliography as the term that describes the non-binding portion of the book, verifying the proper sequence and completeness of pages & their gatherings (signatures).

  • Colophon


    a statement occurring at the rear of a volume following the text, relating information about the printing history and physical aspects of the book; often includes name of printer, type of paper, typeface, size of edition, date of printing, etc. Early books often had a colophon instead of a title page imprint and modern private press or other examples of fine printing often use a colophon.

  • Compartments


    Ruled lines forming a square border or frame on a binding, which is done in gilt or blind.

    Danish: Firkant, linje-indramninger i kvadrater eller rektangler
    Dutch: Verdeling in vierkanten of rechthoeken door lijnen
    French: Compartiments ou caissons
    German: Fileten
    Italian: Riquadri
    Spanish: Cuadrados
    Swedish: Fyrkanter

  • Conjugate leaves


    leaves that are physically attached, part of the same sheet.

  • Counterproof


    Counterproofs: In printmaking, impressions taken from a print or drawing by passing it through a press against a damp sheet of paper. The image appears in reverse.

  • Covers


    the binding of a book; i.e. cloth, calf, morocco, boards, wrappers, etc.

  • Cropped


    The margins of the map or book have been trimmed, usually too close to, or into, the text or image.

  • Cut edges


    the most common type of book edges, trimmed even with a large binders knife prior to finishing the binding process (see also uncut, unopened, and deckle edges).

  • Damp stain


    stain resulting from water or other liquid damage to a volume.

  • Deckle edge


    natural or sometimes artificial rough edge of page, left uncut.

  • Dentelle


    A binder's term (from the French lace) meaning a border with a lacy pattern on the inner edge, usually gilt.

    Danish: Kniplingsmønster
    Dutch: Verguld randwerk, dentelle
    French: Dentelle
    German: Dentelle
    Italian: Merletto
    Spanish: Decorado en forma de encaje
    Swedish: Dentelle

  • Dis-bound


    Descriptive term for a book or pamphlet which has been removed from its binding.

    Danish: Uden bind
    Dutch: Zonder band, band ontbreekt
    French: Dérelié
    German: Einband fehlt, ohne Einband, ausgebunden
    Italian: Slegato, privo di legatura
    Spanish: Sin la tapas, desencuadernado
    Swedish: Uttaget ur band

  • Doublure


    A binder's term, meaning that the paste-down (or inside lining of the covers) is not of paper but of leather, usually decorated.

    Danish: Doublure, opklæbede forsats
    Dutch: Doublure, binnenspiegel
    French: Doublure
    German: Doublure
    Italian: Contropiatto
    Spanish: Contratapa
    Swedish: Foder, pärmfoder

  • Drypoint


    A form of engraving in which the artist incises the surface of the plate with a sharp needle or stylus. This intaglio technique gives the artist the greatest freedom of line, from the most delicate hairline to the heaviest gash. As the artist scores the plate to create the image, ridges of shavings called burr are pushed up to the surface and sit alongside the lines. Because the burr is not cleaned from the plate, as in a copper engraving, it is able to hold ink, yielding lines that are characteristically soft and velvety. Drypoint plates (particularly the burr on them) wear more quickly than etched or engraved plates and therefore show far greater differences from the first impression to the last. Consequently, drypoint editions have fewer impressions.

  • Dust wrapper


    the paper, often with illustrations and information about the book, used as a protective covering over the book; sometimes called a dust jacket.

    Danish: Beskyttelsesomslag
    Dutch: Boekomslag, stofomslag
    French: Jaquette
    German: Schutzumschlag
    Italian: Sovracoperta
    Spanish: Sobrecubierta
    Swedish: Skyddsomslag

  • Editio Princeps


    Latin for first edition. The first printed edition of a work that was in circulation in manuscript before printing was invented.

  • Edition


    An edition includes all the impressions published at the same time or as part of the same publishing event. A first edition is one that was issued with the first published group of impressions. First edition prints and maps are sometimes pre-dated by a proof edition. Editions of a map or print should be distinguished from states of a map or print. There can be several states of from the same edition, and there can be several editions all with the same state.

    A limited edition print is one in which a limit is placed on the number of impressions pulled in order to create a scarcity of the print. Limited editions are usually numbered and are often signed. Limited editions are a relatively recent development, dating from the late nineteenth century. Earlier prints were limited in the number of their impressions solely by market demand or by the maximum number that could be printed by the medium used. The inherent physical limitations of the print media and the relatively small size of the pre-twentieth century print market meant that non-limited edition prints from before the late nineteenth century were in fact quite limited in number even though not intentionally so. German printmaker Adam von Bartsch, in his 1821 Anleitung zur Kupferstichkunde, estimated the maximum number of quality impressions it was possible to pull using different print media as follows:

    500 (and about the same number of weaker images)

    500 (and about the same number of weaker images)

    300 to 400, though the quality suffers after the first 150

    Fewer than 200

    Wood block:
    Up to 10,000

    It was only with the development of lithography and of steel facing of metal plates in the nineteenth century that tens of thousands of impressions could be pulled without a loss of quality. These technological developments led to the idea of making limited edition prints, by which printmakers created an appearance of rarity and individuality for multiple-impression art.

  • Engraving


    An intaglio technique characterized by clean tapered lines made by incising a metal plate (traditionally copper) with a sharp tool called a burin. A range of line widths is possible depending on the size of tools used, making delicate tonalities also possible. The incised lines hold the ink when the image is pressed. Engraving is the technique most commonly seen in Old Master prints. Also sometimes used to refer to an illustration in a book made using the process.

  • Endpaper


    paper, often of coated or marbled stock, with one half pasted to the cover; used primarily to give a finished appearance to the binding.

    Danish: Begyndelsesark
    Dutch: Blad van het voorwerk
    French: Gardes
    German: Vorsatz
    Italian: Foglio preliminare
    Spanish: Hoja preliminar
    Swedish: Eftersättsblad

  • Ephemera


    Transitory single sheet printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day.

    French: Vieux Papiers

  • Errata


    A list of errors and misprints in the text of a book. The list might be printed on a bound page in the book or on a separate piece of paper that is pasted or laid in the book.

  • Etching


    An intaglio technique with a visual result similar to drawing, etched lines are usually free with blunt terminations as a result of the artist drawing with a sharp tool through a soft, often wax-based, ground coated on the plate. Volume and contour is created using a technique called hatching, where the artist changes the spaces, angles, lengths and qualities of the lines. The plate is then placed into an acid bath, where the acid eats away, or “bites,” the exposed metal of the incised lines leaving the areas that are coated with ground untouched. The artist can achieve a broad range of tonality with etching by controlling the time the plate spends in the acid-bath

  • Ex-libris


    a Latin phrase meaning "from the books" or to paraphrase, "from the library or collection of"; the phrase is frequently used on bookplates.

  • Extra-illustrated


    Usually a volume made into a unique copy with additional illustrations, autographs, or manuscripts added by carefully gluing or tipping-in this extra material.

  • Facsimile


    A copy that looks like the original printing of a book, map or print but is not original. The term can also refer to one or more sheets of paper, or parts of sheets, that have been reproduced or copied to replace parts of the item that are missing.
    French: Fac-simile
    German: Faksimile
    Swedish: Faksimilupplaga

  • Fillet


    The fillet is a binder's tool: a revolving wheel with one or more raised strips on its circumference for impressing a line or parallel lines on the leather or other binding material. In the description of books the term is commonly used to mean the line or lines produced by the tool. It is seldom if ever used except of leather binding.

    French: Filet
    German: Filete

  • First Edition


    All of the copies printed from the first setting of type; can include multiple printings if all are from the same setting of type. Every printed book has a first edition, many never have later editions. A later edition would have substantial changes in the printing plates or type such as the addition of a new preface or new chapter or major changes throughout the text and often is printed from a complete resetting of the type. When book collectors use the term first edition, they are usually referring to the first printing and if there are different states or issues, the earliest of those.

    Some related terms:

    Issue: a portion of an edition printed or published deliberately by the printer or publisher in a distinct form differing from the rest of the printing relative to paper, binding, format, etc. The distinction between "issue" and "state" is that the former relates to changes done on purpose by the publisher and intentionally treated as a separate unit, i.e. a large paper issue.

    State: a portion of a printing with changes such as minor alterations to the text either intentional or accidental; insertion of cancels, advertisements, or insertions; copies on different paper without intention of creating a separate issue; and other changes other than folding or collating or binding.

    Variants: usually refers to differences in bindings or end papers within an issue or printing. One variant may have a title stamped on the front cover in black and another may be stamped in red.

  • Fleuron


    A printer’s typographical ornament, originally flower-shaped, cast as a single piece, but often designed to be used in multiple units.

    Danish: Blomsterornament
    Dutch: Bloemornament
    French: Fleuron
    German: Fleuron
    Italian: Decorazione floreale, fiorone
    Spanish: Florón
    Swedish: Vinjett, liten dekoration

  • Flyleaf


    a blank leaf (or leaves) inserted during the binding process between the free end paper and the beginning or end of the printed pages.

  • Folding plate


    Plate, map, or chart that is too big to fit into a book, so it has been carefully folded to fit neatly into the book.

    French: Planches dépliantes
    German: Falttafel

  • Fore-edge painting


    A painting on gilded fore edge, which can only be seen by fanning pages. Popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

    French: Peinture sur tranches
    German: Fore-edge-painting
    Swedish: Fore edge painting

  • Foxing


    Rust coloured spots which occur on paper resulting from oxidation of both organic and iron impurities left behind during the paper making process. Only when these impurities exist in the paper, given exposure to the right humidity and temperature factors, will foxing occur. This process is intrinsic to the paper; some paper will never have the rusty, brown, yellow spots known as foxing.

    Danish: Fugtpletter
    Dutch: Roestvlekken, weervlekken
    French: Rousseurs
    German: Stockflecken
    Italian: Arrossature, rifioriture
    Spanish: Puntos de oxido
    Swedish: Lagerfläckad, brunfläckad, "foxed"

  • Folio


    see “Book formats”.

  • Frontispiece


    an illustration or plate inserted immediately in front of the title page, with the illustration facing the title page.

    Gathering: a folded printed sheet of leaves prior to binding; referred to as a signature after binding.

    Danish: Ark
    Dutch: Katern
    French: Cahier
    German: Lage
    Italian: Quaderno, fascicolo
    Spanish: Cuaderno
    Swedish: Lägg

  • Gauffered edges


    A pattern tooled on gilt edges of book.

    French: Tranches ciselées
    German: ziselierter Schnitt

  • Gilt


    Gold decoration or lettering applied to a binding or page edge. Gilding the top edge was desired not only because it looks attractive, but also because it makes the books easier to dust off.

    Danish: Forgyldt
    Dutch: Verguld
    French: Doré
    German: Vergoldet
    Italian: Dorato
    Spanish: Dorado
    Swedish: Guldornament

  • Gutter


    the inner margin of the leaves of a bound book; adjacent inner margins of facing pages when book is open.

    French: Marges intérieures

  • Half title


    a page that precedes the title page and the text, with the title (often abbreviated) usually centred on the page.

    Danish: Smudstitel
    Dutch: Franse titel, voortitel
    French: Faux-titre
    German: Schmutztitel
    Italian: Occhiello, occhietto
    Spanish: Anteportada
    Swedish: Smutstitel

  • Headband


    Band of silk or cotton affixed to signatures when bound for strength or, more often, decoration of the spine.

    French: Headband
    German: Kapitalband

  • Hinge


    the inside portion of the flexible area where book cover meets the book spine; often used interchangeably with the term joint, which should be used to designate the outside or exterior portion of the "hinge". A volume that has received heavy or rough use often has cracked or broken hinges.

    Danish: Fals (på bogbind)
    Dutch: Scharnier (-versterking)
    French: Charnière
    German: Gelenk (innen)
    Italian: Cerniera
    Spanish: Charnela, bisagra
    Swedish: Fals (på bokpärm)

  • Holograph


    Anything handwritten entirely by the writer; i.e. a letter written entirely in the handwriting of the correspondent is a holograph of that person.

  • Illuminated


    A manuscript or book embellished with decorative elements that are typically hand-painted in rich colours and are sometimes gilded. The elements may include initial letters, designs, and/or pictorial scenes.

    French: Enluminure
    German: Illuminiert

  • Impression


    The quality of the ink on a map or print or all the copies of a book printed during one press run. During the handpress period, when type was reset each time a press was used, this term was synonymous with edition.

    French: Tirage

  • Imprint


    When used as a noun refers to the publication data located at the base of a title page, usually includes the city of publication, name of the publisher (sometimes the printer), and the year of publication. Sometimes this information is located in a colophon at the back of a book. Imprint can also be used to refer to a printed piece from a certain location or period of time.

  • Incunable


    Anything printed during the fifteenth century, the first century of printing with "moveable type"; from the Latin, meaning "from the cradle"; can also be used in a relative sense to refer to other early printings, i.e. Incunable lithograph.

  • Inscribed


    A book, or other printed piece, with a handwritten and signed statement usually written for a specific named person(s) and often located on the end paper or title page; when "inscribed" is used to describe a book, unless otherwise stated, it is implied that the author has written the inscription. When used to designate the recipients of a book as a gift from the author (or publisher), it is called a "presentation inscription".

  • Intaglio Printing


    The term intaglio comes from the Italian word intagliare, meaning “to incise.” In this technique, acid or a pointed tool is used to incise the composition into a metal plate, usually made of copper, but sometimes of steel, iron or zinc. After the image has been drawn, the plate is covered with ink, and then wiped so that only the incised areas contain ink. The pressure of the press forces the paper into the incisions where they pick up the ink, resulting in the raised character of the lines on the impression. Because often the sheet of paper is larger than the plate, an indentation of the plate edges, or platemark, appears around the edges of the image area. Before steel facing, a plate, especially one containing drypoint lines, would degrade over time as the pressure of the press would dull the burr. As a result, the first impression was often crisper than the last. The different types of intaglio prints are distinguished by the technique used: etching, aquatint, and photogravure are made using acid to corrode the metal plate, while engraving, drypoint, and mezzotint are made using a sharp tool to incise, or scratch, the surface of the plate. Often several different intaglio techniques are used in the same print to achieve variations in contrast and tone.

  • Issue


    A portion of an edition printed or published deliberately by the printer or publisher in a distinct form differing from the rest of the printing relative to paper, binding, format, etc. The distinction between "issue" and "state" is that the former relates to changes done on purpose by the publisher and intentionally treated as a separate unit, i.e. a large paper issue.

  • Joint


    the exterior flexible "hinge" where book cover meets book spine; "hinge" is usually used to designate the equivalent inside or interior flexible area. The joint is often an area that splits or cracks or otherwise shows wear in an older cloth or leather volume.

    French: Charnière
    German: Gelenk (außen)

  • Large paper copy


    A special edition printed with the pages reconfigured to result in larger leaves with very wide page margins; the text of the individual pages remaining the same as the normal edition; usually large paper copies are printed in small, limited editions.

    French: Grands papier
    German: Großpapier

  • Leaf (leaves)


    refers to the smallest, standard physical unit of paper in a printed piece; in the case of books and pamphlets, usually with a printed page on each side of a leaf; a broadside is printed on a single side of a single leaf.

  • Lithography


    Literally meaning “stone drawing”, is one of a class of printing processes termed planographic, in which the printing surface (stone, zinc or a similar smooth-surfaced material) is not incised but instead treated with a medium that selectively absorbs (or repels) printing ink.

    French: Lithographie
    German: Lithographie
    Swedish: Litografi

  • Marbled edges


    The top, bottom and fore-edge of a book with a multi-coloured, swirled design, somewhat resembling the colouration pattern of marble stone.

  • Marbled paper


    Paper decorated with a multi-coloured, swirled design or pattern; often used for end papers or for paper covered boards, especially with 3/4 or 1/2 leather bindings.

    Danish: Marmoreret
    Dutch: Gemarmerd
    French: Papier marbré
    German: Marmorieren
    Italian: Marmorizzata
    Spanish: Jaspeado
    Swedish: Marmorera

  • Matrix


    From the Latin word “mater”, meaning mother, the matrix is the surface on which the artist creates an image prior to printing; for example, a woodblock, a linoleum block, a metal plate, a lithographic stone, or a mesh screen.

  • Mezzotint


    A form of print best known for its rich and luscious black tones and soft, subtle areas of light. The resulting image appears hazy and atmospheric, almost like a photograph. Unlike the other intaglio processes, this technique is worked from dark to light; the entire surface of the plate is abraded using a spiked tool called a rocker. These grooves will hold the printing ink and if inked at this point in the process, the plate would print entirely black. To create variations in tone, the artist scrapes and burnishes the abraded plate to smooth out the surface so that those areas will hold less ink and thus yield lighter tones in the image.

  • Miniature


    To miniate (from minium, meaning red lead) meant originally to colour or paint with vermilion, to rubricate or illuminate. But miniatures have come to denote the painted scenes, anecdotes, groups of figures or the like, distinct from conventional decoration and by implication more ambitious than historiated, with which the professional artists of the monastic scriptoria or secular ateliers decorated medieval and renaissance manuscripts (and occasionally some special copy of an early printed book). Such pictures would often be full-page; and since the page would not necessarily be of small size, the term miniature, subject as it is to pseudo-etymological confusion, is not a very happy one, but John Evelyn was using it in 1645 and it is no doubt too late to change it.

    Danish: Illuminering, kolorering
    Dutch: Illuminatie, verluchting
    French: Enluminure
    German: Miniatur
    Italian: Miniatura
    Spanish: Illuminado, miniado
    Swedish: Färgläggning, illuminering

  • Morocco


    Leather binding made from goat hides; usually used in high quality or fine bindings for the interesting texture of the leather; originally tanned with sumac in the country of Morocco.

    Danish: Maroquin
    Dutch: Marokijn
    French: Maroquin
    German: Maroquin
    Italian: Marocchino
    Spanish: Marroquì, tafilete
    Swedish: Marokäng

  • Mounted


    An map, print or other illustration that has been mounted, or tipped, onto a sheet of card for its own protection or to enhance its appearance on display. Also sometimes used for damaged leaves, illustrations, maps, and/or photographs that have been strengthened by backing with paper or thin cloth.

    German: Montieren

  • n.d

    This abbreviation means "no date" provided in the imprint.

  • n.p

    "No place" of publication provided in the imprint.

  • Octavo


    see "Book formats".

  • Offset


    The accidental transfer of ink from a printed page, or illustration, to an adjacent page. This may be caused either from the sheets having been folded, or the book bound, before the ink was properly dry, or from the book being subsequently exposed to damp. Offset from engraved or other plates on to text, and from text on to plates, is commoner, and also much more disfiguring, than offset from text on to text." (John Carter)?

    Danish: Offset
    Dutch: Offset
    French: Offset
    German: Abklatsch
    Italian: Offset
    Spanish: Offset
    Swedish: Offset

  • Offset lithographs


    Lithographs printed by transferring an image from a stone or plate to an intermediate surface and then to the print paper.

  • Original boards


    In the original binding from the book's publisher, as opposed to in contemporary binding (from the same time period but not from the publisher) or rebound.

    French: Original boards
    German: Originaleinband
    Swedish: Originalband

  • Pastedown endpapers


    The part of the endpapers that is pasted to the inside of the front and rear covers.

    French: Contreplat
    German: Innenspiegel

  • Photogravure


    Photogravure is often characterized by photographic images that have moody, velvet-like black areas and a broad range of tone. Combining photography processes with traditional etching techniques, it allows the artist to print these photographic images on untreated printmaking papers.

  • Pigskin


    When tanned in the ordinary way, pigskin as a leather for binding, is intractable and, though very tough, liable to get brittle for lack of grease. When tawed with alum, it is much more tractable and very durable. It doesn't lend itself to decoration, except in blind.

    Danish: Svinesking
    Dutch: Varkensleer
    French: Peau de truie
    German: Schweinsleder
    Italian: Pelle di troia, di scrofa
    Spanish: Piel de cerdo
    Swedish: Svinläder

  • Portolan charts


    Navigational maps based on realistic descriptions of harbours and coasts. They were first made in the fourteenth century in Italy, Portugal and Spain. With the advent of the Age of Discovery, they were considered state secrets in Portugal and Spain, very valuable in the description of Atlantic and Indian coastlines for newcomer English and Dutch raiding, and later trading, ships. The word portolan comes from the Italian adjective portolano, meaning "related to ports or harbours."

  • Plano


    A format of binding where full sheets of paper are gathered and bound unfolded, usually on their short (landscape) side.

  • Plate


    An illustration printed on a separate sheet of paper (usually heavy and better quality than the text pages) and added to the book during the binding process.

  • Pochoir


    This technique was developed in France in the early twentieth century. Translated “stencil,” this process allows the artist to directly add hand-coloured areas to an impression by painting these areas through a stencil. The stencil itself is usually knife-cut from thin-coated paper, paperboard, plastic, or metal and the ink or paint is applied with a brush. This technique is sometimes combined with other planographic methods, such as lithography.

  • Printing


    the copies of a book or other printed material that originates from the same press run or from the same plates or setting of type at one time. In the example given for "Edition", the 500 copies would be the first printing and the 300 copies comprise the second printing.

  • Proof


    This term generally refers to any impression pulled before the official printed edition of an image or book. The artist or printer may make changes to the image after examining a proof, much like an author makes changes to a rough draft of a manuscript before sending it to the publisher. Once the image is the way the artist wants it to be, it will be the model for the finished edition.

  • Prospectus


    printed material, often in the form of a leaflet or broadside, which describes a forth-coming title in detail, often including information on ordering the book including pre-publication price.

  • Provenance


    Evidence of the history of the ownership of a particular item (e.g.: auctions records, booksellers' records, book plates, etc.) The item may be important because of who owned it; perhaps a president or important bookseller, collector, royalty, or someone who may be related to the book in some way.

    Danish: Berømt proveniens
    Dutch: (Beroemde) herkomst
    French: Provenance
    German: Provenienz
    Italian: Provenienza
    Spanish: Procedencia illustre
    Swedish: Proveniensexemplar

  • Quarto


    see "Book formats".

  • Quire


    When used by binders or bibliographers, this is synonymous with a gathering or section. To a paper-maker it means one-twentieth of a ream of paper.

    German: Rohbogen

  • Re-backed


    the spine of a book has been replaced with new material, in some cases the original worn spine is saved and glued over the new material.

    Danish: Ny ryg
    Dutch: Rug vernieuwd
    French: Dos refait
    German: Rebacked
    Italian: Dorso rifatto
    Spanish: Lomo nuevo
    Swedish: Renoverad rygg

  • Re-bound


    copy of a book that has had the original binding removed and a new binding attached; when there is no need to re-sew or trim the book, the term "re-cased" is sometimes used to indicate that a new binding and new end papers have been added.

  • Recto


    the front side of a leaf or in the case of an open book the page on the right, with the page on the left being the verso.

  • Remarque


    A remarque is a small vignette image in the margin of a print, often related thematically to the main image. Originally remarques were scribbled sketches made in the margins of etchings so that the artist could test the plate, his needles, or the strength of the etching acid prior to working on the main image. These remarques were usually removed prior to the first publication of the print.

  • Remboitage


    Re-bound, but using an old binding from another (usually older) book.

  • Re-strike


    Re-strikes are later impressions that have not been authorized by the artist.

  • Rubricated


    A rubric is a heading to a chapter or section written or printed in red.

    French: Rubriqué (exemplaire rubriqué)
    German: Rubrizieren

  • Shagreen



    Danish: Chagrin
    Dutch: Geitenleer
    French: Chagrin
    German: Chagrin
    Italian: Zigrino
    Spanish: Chagrin
    Swedish: Chagrin

  • Shaken


    indicates that sections (signatures) of a book or pamphlet are becoming quite loose, but remain attached to the binding.

  • Sheep


    a common leather binding material from sheep hides; used like calf for a less expensive binding than morocco, appears to have been frequently used for textbooks and law books in the nineteenth century.

  • Signature


    The letters printed in the tail margin of the first leaf (at least) of each gathering or section of a book, as a guide to the binder in assembling them correctly. Signatures normally run from A to Z, omitting, by convention, J and U, which in earlier days were capitalised as I and V, and also W. If the whole alphabet has been run through, they usually proceed to AA, BB, or Aa, Bb, etc. These are commonly indicated in bibliographical descriptions as 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, etc. When, as an alternative, a single-letter alphabet is simply repeated, it is convenient to indicate the subsequent alphabets as 2A, 3A, 2B, 3B, etc.

    Dutch: Signatuur
    French: Signature
    German: Signatur
    Italian: Segnatura
    Spanish: Signatura
    Swedish: Signerat exemplar

  • Signed


    refers to a printed item on which the author (or illustrator or publisher) has written their name, usually on the end papers, title page, or in the case of pamphlets on the wrappers.

  • Slipcase


    a box with one open side, into which a volume or a multivolume set is "slipped" for protection; publishers often issue a slipcase with two and three volume sets.

    Danish: Kasette
    Dutch: Schuifdoos, huls
    French: Emboîtage
    German: Schuber
    Italian: Custodia, astuccio
    Spanish: Tapas y lomo de una encuadernación
    Swedish: Kassett

  • Solander case


    a box in which a book is stored for protection that has one end (often leather) that resembles the spine or back strip of a book.

  • Spine


    the back portion of a book's binding which is visible when a book is shelved in a bookcase; the portion that is attached at the joints to the front and rear covers.

  • State


    a portion of a composition with changes such as minor alterations to the text or image, either intentional or accidental; insertion of cancels, advertisements, or insertions; copies on different paper without intention of creating a separate issue; and other changes other than folding or collating or binding.

  • Steel engraving


    Illustration printed from a steel plate.

    Danish: Stålstik
    Dutch: Staalgravure
    French: Gravure sur acier
    German: Stahlstich
    Italian: Incisione su accciaio
    Spanish: Grabado en acero
    Swedish: Stålstick

  • Stipple engraving


    A combination of both of the arts of etching and engraving. The design to be engraved is outlined by a needle on a grained plate. This plate is then etched and dried. Next, a graver is used to make small dots ("stippling"). These small dots give the effect of light and shade.

  • Subscription


    Expensive books, privately printed books, special copies (e.g. on large paper or with proof plates), or even the whole edition would sometimes be issued on subscription. Subscribers who responded to the preliminary proposal might be asked to pay part of the price in advance, perhaps against a smaller total than that ruling after publication day. And in many cases their names would be printed, in a list of subscribers; hence, such catalogue notes as ?complete with the list of subscribers?, or ?fine copy, but lacks the subscribers?.

    French: Souscription
    German: Subskription
    Swedish: Subskription

  • t.e.g


    top edge gilt.

  • Tipped-in


    Attached to, but not integral to, the binding of the book. Usually to indicate something that has been added.

    French: Tipped-in
    German: Beigabe

  • Title page


    The page where the full title, author, and other information appears, usually including the publisher, place of publication, and date

    Danish: Titelblad
    Dutch: Titelblad, titelpagina
    French: Titre
    German: Titelblatt
    Italian: Frontespizio
    Spanish: Página de la portada
    Swedish: Titelblad

  • Tooling


    The decoration of leather bindings.

    French: Dorures

  • TLS


    typed letter signed, as opposed to ALS, a handwritten letter signed by the writer.

  • Unbound


    An item that has never been bound, i.e. unbound sheets; not the same as dis-bound which indicates that the binding has been removed.

  • Uncut


    Edges of a book in an untrimmed state.

  • Unsophisticated


    Usually used to mean a book that hasn’t been restored or completed using components of other examples of the work.

  • Vellum


    true vellum is a thin specially treated untanned "leather" from calf skin, also known as parchment (high quality parchment from calf skin is called vellum; general quality parchment is made from calf, goat or sheep skin); used for documents and for book bindings; many early books have vellum bindings.

    French: Vélin
    Italian: Pergamena
    Spanish: Pergamino

  • Verso


    the reverse or opposite or left-hand side, especially used in reference to a leaf which has a recto and verso side; in a open book the recto is the right hand page and the verso is the left hand page; in the case of a broadside only the recto is printed and the verso is blank.

  • Vignette


    A small ornamental or decorative design, used on a title page or as a head- or tailpiece to a chapter or division of a book. Also, any illustration not enclosed in a border or squared off at the edges but shading away.

    Danish: Vignet
    Dutch: Vignet
    French: Vignette
    German: Vignette
    Italian: Vignetta
    Spanish: Viñeta
    Swedish: Vignett, även vinjett

  • Watermark


    An image, logo, or symbol embedded in a sheet of paper that identifies the mill at which the paper was made as well as the paper type/style, and in some cases, a date. The mill’s logo is woven with wire into the mesh of the paper mould and as a result less pulp collects on top and around the image making that area of the page thinner. Watermarks, which are typically located in the lower right corner of a sheet of paper, are often only visible when the sheet of paper is held in front of a light.

  • Wood engraving


    The appearance and line quality of a wood engraving is similar to that of a copperplate engraving. The lines are rigid, noticeably tapered at the ends, and vary in thickness and length to create tone and texture. Wood and copper differ insofar as a copper engraving is printed using an intaglio technique where the incised lines receive ink, and print on paper as black. Wood engravings are printed in relief; the ink is rolled onto the surface, so the incised lines remain white.

    Danish: Træsnit
    Dutch: Houtsnede
    French: Gravure sur bois
    German: Holzstich
    Italian: Incisione in legno, xilografia
    Spanish: Grabado en madera
    Swedish: Træsnitt

  • Woodcut


    Illustrations produced when the original printing plate was engraved on a block of wood. One of the oldest methods of printing, dating back to eigth century China.

    French: Gravure sur bois
    German: Holzschnitt
    Swedish: Träsnitt

  • Wrappers


    The paper covers of a pamphlet, often of a paper of heavier weight than the text paper; when you see "wrappers" you know the item is not a hard bound book, but is instead a pamphlet or magazine with paper covers.

    French: Couverture, jaquette

  • Yapp


    A style of binding where the edges of the covers overlap the exposed edges of the paper . It is named after a London bookseller who invented it around 1860, and is mostly used for books of devotion and verse.

  • Zincograph


    A type of print made by drawing or painting onto the surface of a zinc plate in much the same manner as used in “lithography”.