Definition of term:: 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 commissioned for it that would suit his taste or library. This was particularly common in France, where most books were published in this manner. Contemporary can mean original, but usually indicates some doubt as to that fact in the mind of the scrupulous seller (as opposed to "original boards," where the seller is confident). Contemporary, as used here, doesn’t mean "modern" or contemporary to you, unless you were around when the book was published.
Source: What bookdealers really mean. A dictionary by Tom Congalton and Dan Gregory (Between the Covers), with additions from other sources