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

Page

A single side of a bound sheet of paper. Not to be confused with a leaf, which is the sheet of paper itself and has two sides. For example, the fifth leaf in a book may be pp. 7-8.

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Pagination

The numbering of the pages

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Palimpsest

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Pamphlet Pamphlet

A small work that is less than book-length, has paper wraps, and typically has a staple binding. Also known as brochure.

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Pamphlet, booklet

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Panel

Refers to borders in binding. Can also be used in connection with the main surfaces of a dust jacket.

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Paper Paper

Often used for valuable books: Japanese Vellum - Fine quality paper made to look and feel like vellum, usually white or whitish in color. Also called Japon.

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Paper covers Paper covers

Describes a book not bound in stiff paper covers. Can refer to a temporary binding, a booklet or pamphlet, or a book in early (1800s) wrappers. Paperbacks: "Books bound in wrappers, plain or...

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Paperback Paperback

A book bound with flexible paper covers; usually a term reserved for mass-market publications.

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Paperback original

A paperback, either mass market or otherwise, that is the real genuine first edition of a particular title. Many notable first editions of 1950s genre fiction were paperback originals, such as Jim...

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Paperboard

A hard bound book; the boards are the stiff cardboard or paperboard which is usually covered with cloth or leather; and when covered with paper, the covers are properly referred to as "boards".

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Paragraph

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Parchment

The skin of a sheep, goat, etc., prepared as a surface for writing or for use as a binding material.

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Part

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Pastedown enpaper

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

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Pastiche

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Periodicals

John Carter about book collectors: "Most book-collectors, being book-collectors, ignore magazines and newspapers which contain the first printing or a serialisation of something they want in first...

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Photo-engraving

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Photography

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Photogravure

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Photolithography

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Phototype (printing)

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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...

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Pirate edition

Any edition of a work issued without permission of the author and without payment of royalties to the author or copyright holder.

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Placard, poster

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Plagiarism

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Plain (cover)

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Planisphere, star map

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Plate

An illustration(s) 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.

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Plate (print)

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Play

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Playing-card

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PMM

Abbreviation for Printing and the Mind of Man, a book published in 1967 that was based on an exhibition in 1963 of important books that helped change some aspect of the world and scholarship. This...

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Pochoir

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Poetry

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Points

Peculiarities in a published book whose presence or absence helps to determine edition, issue, or state.

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Poor

A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and...

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Popular edition

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Popular illustration

Studs to protect the binding from moisture on the table.

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Portfolio

A portable case used to protect loose papers, plates, pamphlets, and the like. It usually consists of two boards with a wide cloth or paper joint forming the "spine." Can also refer to an artist's...

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Portolan

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Posthumous

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ppbk

A mass market paperback book.

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Pre-publication price

When a new title is first offered for sale, often this special lower price is promoted and available for a limited time before publication.

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Preliminary pages (prelims)

The first pages of the book that appear before the text begins.

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Presentation

A book which has been presented in some manner – by the author, publisher, your old Aunt Fanny, or anyone else, and that can be demonstrated to have been done so through an inscription,...

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Presentation copy

Presentation Copy in the ABC for Book Collectors: "When used without qualification, this may always be taken to mean that the book was the gift of the author. But only a book spontaneously...

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Press

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Press Books

"A jargon term, but a useful one, covering the products of (a) private presses proper, e.g. Strawberry Hill, Lee Priory, Eragny, Gregynog; (b) concerns which, though not printing houses, call...

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Price clipped Price clipped

The price on the inner flap of a dust jacket has been cut off.

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Pringle

Not a tasty brand of mulched potato chips which you should avoid eating while handling your book collection. Rather, it refers to a citation in David Pringle's Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels,...

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Print through

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Print, engraving

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Printer

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Printer's Device Printer's Device

From the earliest days (Fust and Schoeffer, 1457) many printers used a device, or ‘printer’s mark’, to accompany – or occasionally to serve as – their imprint in a book. These will be...

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Printing

The copies of a book or other printed material which originate from the same press run or from the same plates or setting of type at one time. In the 19th century some publishers labeled later...

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Pristine condition

A book in its original condition, unchanged in any way.

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Private Binding

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Private Press

A small press, often operated by one person, usually devoted to the production of small quantities of finely printed books.

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Privately printed

A book or pamphlet whose printing was paid for by an individual or group and is meant for private circulation, not public sale.

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Priviledge

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Proof

"First proofs of a book (see also galleys) are provided by the printer for the author’s correction and the publisher’s scrutiny. Revised proofs are the intermediate stage either to final proofs...

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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.

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Provenance

Evidence of the history of the ownership of a particular book (e.g.: auctions records, booksellers' records, book plates, etc.) The book may be important because of who owned it; perhaps a...

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Provisional cased binding

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Psalter

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Pseudonym

An assumed name used to protect the anonymity of an author. Also known as pen name or nom de plume.

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Published by the author

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Publisher

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Publisher's dummy

Sample of a book usually bound with the title page and a few pages of text, and occasionally a representative illustration, with the rest of the pages blank, created in order to demonstrate what...

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Punch

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