How to Describe Rare Books, Manuscripts, Autographs, Maps, Prints, Atlases, First Editions, Illustrated Books - Glossary in English

Calf Calf

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

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Calico

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Calligraphy

"Calligraphy has been defined by Stanley Morison (in the Encyclopaedia Britannica) as ‘freehand in which the freedom is so nicely reconciled with order that the understanding eye is pleased to...

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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.

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Capital letter

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Carbon copy

A manuscript or letter that was created using carbon paper, i.e. the second (or later) copy in the typewriter, a device used by hard-drinking authors before the invention of the personal computer...

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Carter's ABC for Book Collectors

An excellent book collectors' glossary, by John Carter and first published in 1952. It is in fact perhaps the definitive glossary of its kind and highly recommended. You can browse the ABC for Book...

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Carton

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Cartouche

"A tablet, for inscription (e.g. the titling of maps) or ornament; originally in the form of a scroll, but sometimes used loosely (especially in descriptions of bindings) for round, oval or...

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Case Case

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

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Cased boards

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Catalogues

"Book Catalogues come in as many forms as booksellers ... What every catalogue has in common - and has had since secondhand booksellers first started issuing catalogues - is that customers or...

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Catch word

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Catchword

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Century

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Chained binding

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Chalk lithography

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Chambre Professionelle Belge de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne / Belgische Beroepskamer van Antiquaren (CLAM/BBA) Chambre Professionelle Belge de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne / Belgische Beroepskamer van Antiquaren (CLAM/BBA)

The Chambre Professionelle Belge de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (CLAM) or Belgische Beroepskamer van Antiquaren (BBA) was founded in 1946 and has been an ILAB member from the beginnings in...

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Chamois

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Chapbook

Small, inexpensive books produced from the 17th century until today, originally sold by "chapmen", peddlers, and hawkers.

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Chapter book

Fairly modern term referring to books for older children which are organized into chapters, as opposed to "picture books", which often are not.

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Chapter-heading

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Chemise

Either naughty underwear worn by women, or a case or folding tray into which a fragile or valuable book or manuscript is laid (as perhaps are the women in naughty underwear), usually used in...

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China paper

"A very thin, soft, absorbent paper, made in China from bamboo fibre, yellowish or greyish or straw-coloured, used for proofs of engravings or wood-cuts, and occasionally also for lithographs. The...

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Chipped Chipped

Small pieces broken off of a dust jacket or binding.

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Chrestomathy

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Chromo

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Chromo-typography

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Chromolithography

Color printing from multiple impositions of lithographic stones or similar lithographic printing surfaces. A process of illustration that reached its zenith in the mid-Nineteenth century.

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Chronicle

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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...

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Closed tear Closed tear

A tear in a dustjacket that fits closely together, in other words, doesn't look too much like a tear, as opposed to a ragged or jagged tear. Some dealers use the term to mean a tear that has been...

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Cloth Cloth

Book binding material woven from cotton, linen, wool or synthetic fibers.

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Coat of arms

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Coated

Paper is smooth and polished; something has been applied to the surface to make it appear glossy.

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Cocked Cocked

A slant to the spine of the book, causing the book to be out of square, usually caused by either reading the book, or stacking cases of beer on it.

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Cockled Cockled

Refers to the condition of a book; 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...

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Codex argenteus

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Collate

To verify completeness of a book by examining it carefully (e.g.: all illustrative plates are present, no pages are missing, etc.)

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Collation

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

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Collection

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Collection of books

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Colophon 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,...

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Colour print

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Coloured

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Coloured (frontier lines on maps)

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Coloured (maps)

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Coloured paper

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Column

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Column

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Compartments Compartments

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

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Complete

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Concordance

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Condition

Condition sometimes shown as __/__, i.e., F/F, denoting first book & then dustjacket condition.

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Conjugate leaves

Leaves which are physically attached, part of the same sheet.

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Consecutive numbering (of leaves)

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Contemporary binding

A binding that was placed on the book at or around the time of publication. Some books were issued in paper covers, or plain cardboard boards, and the purchaser would often have a binding...

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Contents

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Copper print

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Copperplate

Illustrations produced when the original printing plate was engraved on copper; this method was introduced before the end of the 15th century. They replaced the woodcut, which reappeared later on.

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Copy

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Copy

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Copy in sheets

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Copyright page Copyright page

The page that appears on verso of the title page, containing the artistic property protection.

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Corner

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Corners

You know, corners – the pointy things that stick out at the edges of the book. Like all things that stick out, they are the most likely to get bumped or worn.

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Corrigenda

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Cover, wrapper

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Cracked Cracked

Refers to the condition of a book; there is a long narrow opening or break down the spine or in the cover

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Crayon manner

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Crease

A permanent bend to a page or dustjacket. In days of yore some collectors would remove the jacket from the book, fold it neatly in two, and store it somewhere safe.

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Creased

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Crimped

Refers to the condition of a book; a grooved, indented, or pinched condition of a cover or page, which is caused by extreme humidity. It can also describe a bookmaking process that bends the hinges...

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Cropped

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

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Crown

The very top edge of the spine, of either the book or the jacket. Since most people tug books off shelves from the crown, this area is very prone to wear. The recommended way to remove a book from...

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Cuir de Russie

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Culacino

A drink-ring or circular stain left when a book is used as a coaster for a drinking glass. A handy Italian term which has no one-word English equivalent (and, from the perspective of book people,...

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Cut

An illustration that is printed on a text page

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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).

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