Glossary of Terms

Overall Condition

Fine - Very well preserved copy showing very little wear

Very Good Indeed - Only one or two minor faults, really a very attractive copy

Very Good - Quite a wide term meaning no major faults but probably several smaller ones often expected given the age of the book, but still a respectable copy

Good - Meaning not very good. Some more serious faults as will be described in the condition report under 'condition'

Good Only - Meaning one or more faults that could really do with repair

Fair - As with good only above but with other faults leaving a compromised copy even after repair

Poor - Really bad and possibly seriously incomplete.

We only sell books in this condition where their rarity or value makes them attractive none the less. Major defects will be described.


Advance Reading Copy – A copy of a book for reviewers or booksellers usually issued prior to the finished cover art but generally appears as it will in bookstores. This differs from the Uncorrected Proof.

Advertisements/Adverts – Printed with the book, there are typically publisher’s adverts to the start or end. They are not integral to the book, though frequently have bibliographic significance particularly when determining which issue a work is.

Aquatint – A printmaking technique which produces area of tone rather than lines. Aquatint plates are usually uncoloured, or issued with contemporary hand-colouring.

As Issued – Indicating the book is in the same condition as when originally published.

Association Copy – A book which belonged to someone associated with the author, or a famous and noteworthy person that is associated with the book’s content.

As Usual – A description of defects that typically occur to this particular work, for example the paper or binding quality may be susceptible to damage.


Backstrip – The covering on the book’s spine

Bibliography – A list referring to books and other works pertaining to a certain subject or author.

Binder’s Ticket/Stamp – A small paper label, or stamp, usually on the inside cover of the work which gives the binder’s name.

Blind Stamping – A stamp which lacks ink. This usually provides a mark of ownership, or an indentation on the surface. Blind stamping is also used in binding.

Boards – The most common type of ‘hard cover’ binding are boards covered with either cloth or leather – more recently cover designs are directly printed onto boards. Early printed books used wooden boards; however as book binding transitioned to the use of paper, publishers started using a pasteboard or cardboard.

Bookplate – A pasted-in indicator of ownership. Usually found to the front pastedown or the preliminary pages. Typically, a bookplate has an engraved monogram or coat-of-arms.

Brodart – Generally refers to a clear, plastic, protective cover which has been placed on the outside of a book.

Buckram – A stiffened fabric covering, usually cotton or linen. It is a strong, moisture resistant covering typically used on books that are regularly handled such as library books.

Bumping – When a part of the book has been flattened, indented, or bent slightly.


Called For – Used to compare the copy in hand with an ideal copy, often citing the authority, for example 'without the blank leaf called for by Keynes'.

Cancelled Leaves – Replacement leaves correcting printers' errors, or reflecting an author's revisions.

Catchword – The first word of the following page, printed at the foot of the page to help the printer place the pages in the correct order.

Chemise – A hard, protective cover for a book usually placed around prior to the books insertion to a slipcase.

Chipped/Chipping – Small pieces of a dustwrapper or paperback book is missing from the edges.

Closed Tear – A torn page or dustwrapper where there is no loss. Closed tears can be repaired.

Cocked – The spine of a book has been lightly twisted, resulting in the front and rear boards of a book do not align when the book is lying flat.

Cockled – Usually caused when cloth or paper has had contact with water. The surface is slightly wrinkled.

Collation, Collational Formula, – The 'collation' of a book is a bibliographical description of its construction and contents in a standardised notation. It establishes if the book is complete or not.

Colophon – A statement, found mainly in early printed books, appearing at the end of the text giving the title (in fifteenth century books), the name of the publisher and/or printer, and the place and date of publication. With modern books this is called the imprint.


Dampstain – Caused by moisture and has left a small stain to cloth or pages.

Deckled Edges – When the edges of the pages are uncut and therefore feathered in appearance.

Doublures – Ornamental linings on the inside of a book, what is usually the pastedown or endpapers. These are quite often watered silk.

Disbound – Either a book or pamphlet which has now been removed from its binding.


Engraving – A general term covering all illustration or other decorative material printed from intaglio (incised) plates; a number of different methods of engraving are employed, often used in combination on a single plate.

Endpapers – A sheet whereby half of it is the endpaper, and half is a blank leaf at the beginning or end of the book.

Errata Leaf/Slip – Mistakes or errors from initial printing, discovered prior to publication. Either loosely inserted or tipped in and typically smaller in size than a leaf.


Facsimile – An exact reproduction, as accurate as possible, of an original work.

First Edition – The first appearance of a work in book or pamphlet form, typically in its first printing unless otherwise stated.

Fine Binding – A decorative binding, elaborate in nature.

First Thus – Not the first edition, but the first appearance of this specific printing. It may be the first illustrated edition, the first English translation, the first paperback edition or its first appearance in book form.

Fore Edge – The edge of the leaf or text block opposite the spine. The other edges are called the top and bottom edge.

Foxing – Heavy brown spotting of paper, caused by a chemical reaction.

Frontispiece/Frontis – An illustration at the start of a book, usually facing the title page.


Gathering – The leaves formed from a single sheet after it has been folded; a group of leaves folded together and sewn through the fold.

Gauffered Edges – A decorative design/pattern pressed to the edges of a book.

Gift Inscription – An inscription from one individual to another, gifting the book.

Gilt – Gold decoration or lettering, it can be on the boards, spine and edges.

Glassine – A transparent or translucent paper dustwrapper.

Glosses – Notations that are printed or written by a prior owner. They can be marginal or interlinear.

Gutter – The inner margin of the leaves.


Half Cloth – Whereby the spine and corners of a book are bound in cloth, with paper covered boards.

Half Calf/Morocco etc. – The spine and outer corners are bound in leather where the rest of the

Half Title – Half-titles are found before the main title page, and provide an abbreviated form of the title. They are almost invariably integral leaves, but since they were often discarded by book-binders, particularly in the case of English books of the C18 and C19, their absence is not always considered a serious defect in bound copies.

Head – The upper margin of a leaf, cover or endpaper. Synonymous with ‘top’.

Hinge – The inner portion where the text-block meets the spine.


Impression – A collection of books printed using the same type at the same time. Within an edition there can be multiple impressions made at different times, sometimes months apart. Synonymous with the word ‘printing’.

Issue – Normally referring to the priority of copies in the first edition. Issues can be due to publisher changes within an impression and makes one copy distinguishable from other copies.


Joints – Where the book cover meets the spine on the outside. Internally, this portion is referred to as the hinge.


Large Paper/ Fine Paper Copies – A small number of de-luxe copies of a book were sometimes printed on larger paper than the ordinary ones, or on better quality paper.

Leaves – A leaf is a single sheet bound in a book. A leaf has two pages, with the first page you read being the recto and the second the verso.

Limp Binding – A flexible binding, typically in imitation leather or suede.

Limitation Page – A limitation page has the total number of copies printed of this edition. In English books, this is typically only found on limited edition publications.

Lithograph – An Illustration produced using the technique created by Alois Senefelder in 1796. Lithography involves the use of an image drawn onto the surface of a smooth stone plate. It has since been developed to be used on a printing press.


Marbled Paper – Decorative paper, found on the covers or endpapers. The edges of a book are often marbled to match.

Marginalia – Notes and commentary either hand-written or printed to the margins.

Margins – The blank area surrounding the printed area of a page.


Offsetting – The transfer of ink from a printed page, or illustration to an adjacent page.

Original Boards – The binding that the book was published in, opposed to a contemporary binding or more recently rebound.


Page – One side of a leaf. The front is a recto with the reverse being a verso.

Pagination – The number of pages in a book.

Paste-Down – The portion of the front endpaper pasted to the reverse of the front cover.

Plates – Full page illustrations printed separately from the text. In-text illustrations are referred to as vignettes.

Presentation Copy – A copy of a work that has been presented as a gift by the author, publisher or illustrator.

Price Clipped – The price has been removed from the corner of the dust jacket.

Private Press – A small press devoted to producing small quantities of finely printed books.

Proofs – The proof copy precedes the published book.

Provenance – The history of the ownership of the book. Indicators of provenance include signatures, bookplates, auction records and inserted letters.


Quarter Cloth – The spine of a book is covered in cloth, with paper covered boards.

Quarter Calf/Morocco – The spine of a book is covered in leather, with the boards in either cloth or paper.


Raised Bands – The raised bands conceal cords on the binding which hold the gatherings in place. In later books the raised bands are purely decorative.

Rebacked – A book which has been repaired by replacing the spine and repairing the joints.

Rebound – When a book has a new binding due to damage or if the owner wished for a newer binding.

Review Slip – A note from the publisher to a potential reviewer which is usually tipped in to the book.

Rubbing – Wear to the externals of a book, caused by shelf friction and/or abrasion.


Shelf wear – Minor wear to a work that occurs as it is placed onto and removed from a shelf.

Slipcase – A protective case with an open end.

Spill Burn– A spill burn is a small brown mark to paper caused by burning material from a candle, pipe or spill.

Spine – The backbone of a book, covered with the backstrip.

Spotting – Light brown spots on pages, not as severe as foxing.

Sunned – A dustwrapper or paper binding that has faded from exposure to light or direct sunlight.


Tailpiece – Decorative typography ornament at the end of a chapter or a poem.

Text Block – The book without its binding.

Tipped In – an illustration, photograph or letter that has been lightly attached to the work by gum or paste.

Tissue Guards – Tissue guards are protective sheets laid over an illustration.

Triple Decker – A book which is published over three volumes – almost exclusively used to describe Victorian novels of the late 19th century.


Uncorrected Proof – A printed copy of a work that is released prior to official publication. They are typically plainly bound.

Uncut – A book that has not been cut with the plough or guillotine and therefore the pages have not been trimmed to the same size.

Uniformly Bound – Books that have been rebound in a matching style.

Unopened – The edges remain in-tact and have not been hand-slit by the original owner with a paper knife. It is therefore, unlikely to have been read.

Unpaginated – The pages of a book aren’t numbered.


Variant – A book which differs from others in the same impression, however a priority has not necessarily been established.

Vignette – An in-text illustration with no distinct separation from other parts of the page.


Woodcut – An illustration printed from a carved block of wood.

Worm/Worming – Small holes and tracks forming as a result of insect damage.

Wraparound Band – Typical to modern books, the removable band of paper advertises additional information about a book.