Inside KruegerBooks Rare and Fine Books.
Book Terms - Definitions
- Condition. (More
KruegerBooks Condition Definitions) The physical state of a book. While
descriptive terminology offers a general indication of condition, such terminology
is inherently subjective. Unfortunately, not even a photograph adequately
portrays the condition of a book as a whole. Therefore, most reputable antiquarian
booksellers offer their books on approval. Generally,
KruegerBooks uses the following terms to describe its books (if a description
has two such terms, as in "Fine/Good," the first term refers to the condition
of the book, and the second term refers to the condition of the dust jacket):
Very Fine (VF). The condition of a book that is flawless in every
respect. Clearly unread and unused. Some booksellers use the terms "mint,"
"as new," and "very fine" interchangeably.
Fine (F). The condition of a book that is nearly flawless and that
shows only slight signs of age. Generally reserved for books that are unread
and unused, and which are clean, crisp, and very nearly new in condition.
Very Good (VG). The condition of a book that is clean and sound,
showing very little wear. Usually such a book has been read, perhaps several
times, and is not as crisp as a new book, but it is nonetheless collectible.
Generally the highest grade given to books printed before 1900, and thus
highly desirable to collectors of antiquarian books.
Good (G). The condition of a book that shows signs
of wear and aging, but is generally sound and free from major defects; thus
a desirable condition for collectors of antiquarian books printed before
Binding. The cover of a book, usually, but not always, leather
Blind-stamp. An impression stamped into a book cover that is not
colored with ink or gilt. When the page of a book has been blind-stamped,
the stamp is usually that of a previous owner.
Boards. The front and back covers of a hardcover book. So called
because many early book covers were originally wood boards.
Buckram. A heavy linen binding cloth often heavily starched or
otherwise coated with protective material.
Cloth. A textile binding material.
Contemporary. A contemporary binding is the original binding of
a book, and is thus highly desirable.
Dampstain. Very light stain caused by moisture (perspiration, a
piece of moist food, etc.). Usually not as severe as waterstains.
Dentelles. French for "lace." An ornate border
on a binding, usually gilt. An "inside dentelle" is an ornate border on the
part of a binding left showing on the outside edge of the inside of a board
after the binding has been folded over the edge of the boards and the pastedown
endpaper has been applied.
Endpaper. Sometimes called "endleaves," an endpaper is the double
leaf at the very front and back of a book, half of which is pasted to the
inside of the boards, the other half of which makes up the front and back
Ex Libris. Latin. "From the library of...."
Foxing. Light tan or brown spots usually caused by the aging of
a book's paper or binding over time. Foxing is often more severe in books
housed in humid climates.
Format. The format of a book is the number of
times a sheet of paper is folded to make the book's pages. Though often used
to designate the size of a book, the size of various
formats can vary greatly, and format should be understood as only a general
indication of size.
The formats, with their common abbreviations, are:
Folio (Fo.). The format created by folding a sheet of paper in
half, usually making a book in the shape of an upright rectangle. As a general
indication of size, a folio tends to be the largest of the formats.
Quarto (Qto. 4to). The format created by folding a sheet of paper
twice, generally more square in shape than a folio. Quartos can range in
size from a book larger than a copy of your local Yellow Pages to a book
only half that size.
Octavo (Oct., 8vo). The most common format of a book, an octavo
is created by folding a sheet of paper three times, resulting in a book in
the shape of an upright rectangle.
Duodecimo (12mo). The format of a book generally smaller than octavo
and larger than sextodecimo. If you feel compelled to explore the mysteries
of this term.
Sextodecimo (16mo). The format of a small book created by folding
a sheet of paper four times.
Vicesimo-quarto (24mo). The format of a small book generally smaller
than a sextodecimo and larger than a tricesimo-secundo. For an exploration
of this complex format.
Tricesimo-secundo (32mo). The format of a small book created by
folding a sheet of paper five times.
Frontpiece. An illustration, usually a full page, opposite the
Gutter. The inner margin of a page (near the spine) of a book .
Half-title. The extra page of a book sometimes found preceding
the title page, and bearing the title of the book. The half-title originated
as a "cover" for the protection of the true title page in the time when books
were sold as unbound leaves which were then bound to the buyer's specifications.
Holographic. A document or inscription written in the hand of the
person who signed it.
Incunabula (incunabulum, incunable). Books printed before the year
Leaf. A piece of paper that makes up one page
of a book on the recto, and one page on the
Marbled Paper. Decorative paper made by dipping the paper into
a bath of multi-colored paint, leaving swirled marble-like designs on the
paint, which are often then manipulated with a comb or other instrument into
a variety of patterns. Used today primarily as covers or endpapers in luxurious
books issued by fine presses.
On Approval. Reputable
booksellers often sell antiquarian books "on approval," allowing the purchaser
to return a book for a refund within a specified period if the purchaser
finds condition to be unacceptable. Thus, "on approval" is simply another
version of the familiar phrase "satisfaction guaranteed" used by most mail
order vendors. KruegerBooks offers its books on approval.
Parchment. The split skin of a sheep or goat specially treated
and used like paper for calligraphy and printing.
Pastedown. The half of an endpaper that is pasted to the inside
cover of a book.
Provenance. The record of a book's previous ownership.
Raised Bands. On a cord-bound book, the horizontal raised bands
on the spine, usually of a leather binding. Not often used in books published
today, except for quality leather-bound editions.
Rebacked. A book that has had the backstrip (part of a cover that
covers the spine) replaced.
Recto. The front side of a
leaf, which becomes the page on the right side of an
Size. Because the format
of a book is only a general indication of size, those concerned about the
size of a book should seek an exact measurement, which is usually given in
Slip case. A protective box that holds a book
or set of books. Slip cases can be made from any material, but today are
most often cloth or paper covered cardboard. Slip cases add significant
protection to books by absorbing wear and damage that would otherwise be
suffered by the book itself.
Vellum. Specially treated calfskin, kidskin, or lambskin used like
paper for printing and calligraphy, and sometimes used for binding. The most
common material used in medieval manuscripts, it is generally seen today
only in a very few luxurious books published by fine presses.
Verso. The back side of a
leaf, which becomes the page on the left side of an open
Worming. Small hole in the page of a book left by a book worm.
Wrappers (wraps). The cover of a paperback book.
Inside KruegerBooks Rare and Fine Books.
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