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

Sabin

Joseph Sabin's monumental bibliography Bibliotheca Americana: A Dictionary of Books Relating to America from Its Discovery to the Present Time.

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Sale

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Salesman sample

Volume made for door-to-door sales of a forth-coming title, usually has examples of several binding styles, the title page, a few pages of text and some illustrations (if any) and often a few ruled...

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Scarce

Traditionally, a "scarce" publication isn't as hard to find as a rare publication, but might take a few years to locate.

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Scraper

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Scratched, rubbed Scratched, rubbed

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Scuffed Scuffed

Like rubbed, but more severe.

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Second-hand book of little value

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Secondhand book

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Secretarial inscription

Different from a forgery, this is a copied signature of an author, or other notable, made with his or her knowledge - usually by a secretary or similarly empowered agent - but which is not from his...

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Self-wrappers

The wrappers of a pamphlet consist of the first leaf of the first signature and the final leaf of the last signature; i.e. no special or distinct paper wrappers have been added; often government...

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Separate

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Serial title

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Serigraphy

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Sewed, sewn

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Sewing

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Shagreen

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Shaken

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

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Sheep 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 text books and law books in the 19th century...

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Sheets

The pages which have been printed but not yet folded, sewn, or gathered together for binding.

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Short grain

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Side

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Signature

"The letters (or, in some modern books, numerals) 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...

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signature (sheet)

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Silk binding

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Silver binding

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Slightly worn

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Slipcase Slipcase

An open-ended box, usually made of cardboard, but sometimes covered with cloth, into which a book is slid in order to protect it. These are sometimes supplied by the publisher with the book, most...

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Sliver

A very narrow or shallow chip or nick, usually at the edge of a dustjacket.

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Small capitals

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Small octavo, small quarto

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Small second-hand bookshop

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Small wormhole

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Soiled

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Soiling

An accumulation of dirt or dust most often caused by handling.

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Solander case

Drop-front, or drop-back case used to preserve books (or as originally conceived, to preserve botanical specimens). One drawback is that occasionally, when the "drop front" is removed, the book...

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Sought after

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Sought after

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Space line (printing)

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Spacing

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Spine

The part of the book that faces you when it is properly shelved on a bookshelf.

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Spine fold

As in: "separated at the rear spine fold." The crease or bend in the paper that is created when a jacket is bent around the edge of the spine – there are two of these, in case you wondered – a...

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Spine title

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Spiral bound

Held together at the spine with a spiral binding, usually made of either metal or plastic, that is threaded though punched holes on the spine end of the textblock.

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Splayed

Warped or slightly bowed out, used most often to describe boards that have bent away from the text block.

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Spot, stain

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Square

Description of a book that has retained its original shape, or in other words, not become misshapen from repeated reading or mistreatment. Even a single reading of a book can easily round the spine...

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Standard work

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Steel engraving

Illustration printed from a steel plate (instead of a copper plate)

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Stereoscope

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Sterotype

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Sub-title

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Subscription

"In the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries (and much less frequently since) expensive books, privately printed books, special copies (e.g. on large paper or with proof plates) or even the whole...

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Subtitle

“A subordinate, usually explanatory title, additional to the main title and normally printed immediately below it. To be distinguished from half-title and fly-title.” (John Carter)

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Suomen Antikvariaattiyhdistys/Finska Antikvariatföreningen (SAY)

Suomen Antikvariaattiyhdistys (SAY), the Finnish Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, was founded in 1941. Its first and long-standing chairman was Erik Olsoni during whose presidency SAY...

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Supplement

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Surface printing

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Sütterlin

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Svaz Antikváru CR (SACR)

16 rare booksellers from Eastern Europe belong to the Association of the Antiquarian Booksellers of the Czech Republic or Svaz Antikváru CR. The SACR was founded in 1992 and became affiliated with...

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Svenska Antikvariatföreningen (SVAF) Svenska Antikvariatföreningen (SVAF)

Svenska Antikvariatföreningen (SVAF), established in 1936, belongs to the five associations that met at the Preliminary Conference in Amsterdam in 1947 during which the idea of founding an...

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Syndicat National de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) Syndicat National de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne  (SLAM)

The Syndicat National de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) was created in 1914, and is one of the biggest and oldest antiquarian booksellers’ associations, preceded by the ABA only which...

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