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one side of a leaf in a book or pamphlet (GG)

See also: recto

palladium leaf

a silvery, non-corrosive, expensive, white-metal leaf reserved for very fine book decoration and edge-treatments; “an amalgam leaf resembling silver leaf” (GG, ED)

See also: gold leaf
  silver leaf


a short booklet usually printed in large numbers for wide distribution (often polemical in nature), comprising a single gathering; sewn, saddle-stitched, or wire-stitched (stapled); often with a paper wrapper, but not covered per se (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate term: booklet


1. any rectangular space within which information or decoration is placed

2. a frame tooled with one-, two- and more parallel lines palleted or filleted (blind or in gold) on the spine or cover of a leather-covered book; the space between raised cords where title, author, etc., and decoration are gold tooled, directly on the leather or on applied labels, a so-called panel back (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms: 1. section
2. border

panel stamp, panel stamped

an engraved brass large enough to decorate most of the leather-covered board in one application of pressure; from mid-1200s, stamps were made of wood and metal and were blind stamped; later, panel stamping was done in gold; for panel stamping, the leather is moistened and the heated metal panel in positioned face-down on the cover before the whole is placed in a press (GG, ED, JC)

See also: blind tooling, blind stamping
  brass stamp
  gold stamping
  ink stamping
  stamping press

paper boards

in casing bindings, where paper is used as the covering material rather than cloth (GG, JC)

See also: paper covers

paper covers

thick paper, covering material used without boards, attached to the spine on ordinary, sewn books, with squares or trimmed flush (GG)

Alternate terms: paperback


a rush from which sheets of writing support were made; the stalks of the plant are gathered, cut into smaller sections, and then sliced laterally into thin strips; after soaking in water, the strips are laid in two layers, the second, turned 90°, and overlapping the first; this layer is then pounded together and/or pressed; when dry, the surfaces are usually smoothed and polished with pumice; like paper, papyrus is made of a vegetable fiber, but it otherwise does not resemble paper in that the fibers are not reduced to a pulp and felted; the term “paper” was derived from “papyrus” (GG)


a thin, rather stiff (compared with leather), white writing (and occasionally printing) support derived from the skins of goats, sheep, and young animals such as kids and calves; unlike leather, parchment is not tanned, but rather dehaired, scrapped, cleaned while stretched on a frame with pumice and degreased with chalk; the key in making parchment is to dry it while tautly stretched; if a thick skin, such as sheep, it is often split, but most parchment has two distinct sides: a smooth, slightly glossy, yellowish grain side, as opposed to the flesh side which is whiter, more matte, and slightly more textured (it is the preferred writing side); when making up book pages, like-sides should face one another across the double page spread; split sheepskin used for parchment is called forel; see Reed (1972) (GG, JC, ED)

See also: leather

pared leather

leather that has been thinned either overall by shaving down or at the edges by chamfering, both with a sharp paring knife; to reduce bulk at the turn-in area along the edge of the covers and the double-thickness of leather at the head and tail of the spine, the edges of the leather piece are pared (GG)

paste paper, pba01178paste papers

decorated papers, used for covering sides and occasionally, for endpapers; made by coating a durable, dampened paper with one or several layers of colored starch paste(s) and either drawing, dragging, pulling, stamping, etc., some pattern into the paste, see Loring (ED)

See also: marbling

pasteboard (paste-board, E.)

a binder’s board made up of sheets of waste papers (often printed) pasted or glued together; dates before the use of millboard in the 18th c. (GG, JC)

See also: Bristol board

pastedown (paste-down, E.)

the first/last sheet of paper from the endpapers that is adhered to the upper/lower covers on the inside; separate pieces of paper adhered to the inside covers, sometimes followed with watered silk; the next free sheet of paper is the flyleaf (GG, JC)

Alternate term: board-paper (E.)
See also:


1. sheets of paper printed on both sides; in letterpress, one side is printed at least one day before the other; in special perfecting presses, both sides can be printed at once

2. perfect binding denotes an adhesive binding; the name is probably a derivative of the word “gutta-percha” (GG, RE)

Persian morocco

soft goatskin used for finest bindings; Persian sheep and Persian goat leathers are actually made in India and are not durable (GG)

See also: morocco


a photomechanical reproduction made and printed in much the same way as etching, except that the resulting image is a tonal print; often used to reproduce images based on other media such as paintings, watercolors, etc. (GG, BG)

See also: aquatint
  line etching

photomechanical reproduction

a number of plate-processes to reproduce in large quantities an image, usually a tonal image (BG)

Alternate terms: collotype
process work (E.)


a unit of measure in the American type system; there are about 6 picas to the inch; each pica consists of 12 points (GG)

See also: point


a finely ground mineral that is suspended in a vehicle for use as an ink, paint, watercolor painting, etc. (GS)

See also: dye

pin seal

the fine-grained skin of a seal, used for very expensive binding (GG)

pin seal morocco

hand-grained goatskin resembling pin seal (GG)

See also: pin seal


Latin: “painted”; the artist who painted the image that the craftsman is making into a fine print (BG)

Alternate terms: pinxt.
See also:

plain binding

a plain-looking binding with little or no embellishment made by a job binder (ED)


illustration in a book, often printed differently from the text and tipped-in on a guard, as opposed to a figure which is printed along with the text (GG, JC)

See also: figure

platemark (plate mark, plate-mark, E.)

impression of the beveled edge of an intaglio printing plate into the paper; see intaglio printing press (GG, JC, BG)

Alternate terms: bevel edge
  facet edge (E.)


the application of color by means of tamping with a stencil brush a “dry” gouache or watercolor through a stencil (GG)

Alternate term: stencil

pocket edition

a small octavo book, about 6.75 x 4.25 inches (GG)


a unit of measure in the American type system; one point is equal to approximately 1/72 inch; there are 12 points to a pica, and therefore about 6 picas to the inch (GG, JC)

Alternate terms: type size
See also: pica


pattern, design or image made up of dots (JC)

Alternate terms: criblé
  manière criblée

polished calf

highly finished calfskin used in fine bookbinding (GG)

print, printing

1. the act of transferring, numerous times, some kind of image (textual, decorative, and/or pictorial) from one surface to another using ink as the vehicle

2. the individual artifact made from such action (GG, BG)

printed edges

usually advertising copy, this is performed on trimmed edge before any rounding and back on the fore-edge (most often) with “rubber” type [a rubber stamp?] (GG)

printer’s mark

a mark or device that represents a specific printer, just as the publisher’s mark or device identifies a specific publisher (GG)

Alternate term: printer's device
See also:
publisher’s mark

private press

a small press that occasionally issues limited editions, whose quality is often above that of trade books; often owned by individuals or groups who do not seek profit in the commercial sense, but engage in printing and/or publishing for creative reasons and personal gratification (GG, JC)

See also: job printer

privately printed

books issued from either a private press or financed by the author or another individual, printed by a job printer (GG, JC)


having a licence from a governing agency or authority, which allows the publisher/printer to “make public” a specific work (GG, JC)

Alternate terms: imprimatur


the existence of a few pages that lay below the trimmed edges of a book, signifying that the binder has not cropped the edges (GG, ED)

Alternate term: witness


a printed leaflet or broadside describing a forthcoming book; often with a specimen paper, illustration, and/or table of contents; first issued in 1469 (GG)


simply, to make public, usually in many copies and distributed for sale (GG, JC)


an individual or a group of individuals (a company or group) that is in business to finance the production of books and other printed matter to sale to the public (or members of a group), either for profit or not; prior to the 19th c., publishers, in the preceding sense, were rare and the activities of publishing were more commonly assumed by authors, job printers, governments, and booksellers (GG)

publisher’s binding

in America from the early 19th c., a binding done in the same materials and decoration for the entire edition (or in batches); the specific binding is designed, arranged, and paid for by the publisher; prior to the 19th c., sheets were purchased from the printer by booksellers who would have the books either temporarily sewn/bound or would sell books in sheets (or in a temp. binding) to the owner, who would arrange for the permanent binding in his/her preferred style or the prevailing style for the times and/or genre of work (GG)

Alternate terms: edition binding
  trade binding

publisher’s cloth

a large range of book cloth used to cover cases for publisher’s bindings, since about 1830 in America, see Allen (1976, 1994), Tanselle (1970), Sadleir (1990) (GG, JC)

Alternate term: book-cloth
See also:
grain pattern book-cloth

publisher’s mark

a mark or device that represents a specific publisher, just as the printer’s mark or device identifies a specific printer (GG)

Alternate terms: publisher’s device (E.)
See also:
printer’s mark

quarter binding, quarter-bound

a binding format where the spine is covered in one material while almost all of the sides are covered in another (no corners are covered), e.g., quarter-bound leather with paper sides (GG, JC)

See also: full binding (bound)
half binding (bound)
  three-quarter binding (bound)


a book format consisting, traditionally, of a sheet of paper folded twice so that there are 4 leaves and 8 pages; in modern practice, a book size ranging between 8.5 x 7 and 11 x 15 inches (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms:

railway edition

a cheap edition of a popular work sold at bookstalls in railroad stations, often in a small, pocket-size format (GG)

Alternate term: railway library edition

raised bands

raised cords that are covered, becoming an element of the spine (GG, JC)

See also: false bands, false raised bands
  raised cords

raised cords

the sewing supports that lay against the back of the book (GG)

See also: false bands, false raised bands
  raised bands
  recessed cords


a common quantity of paper sold, consisting of from 480 to 500 sheets (GG)

rebacked book (re-backed, E.)

a book that has had its original spine material replaced by the same kind of material or something else, such as cloth for a leather spine (GG, JC)

recessed cords

cords that are sunken below the plane of the back by first sawing grooves (usually two or three) into the back; after sewing, the back is flat; if the look of raised cords is desired, false cords (or bands) have to be made up and applied to the back of the hollow before covering (GG, ED)

Alternate terms: sawn-in cords
  sunken cords
See also:
false bands, false raised bands
raised cords


1. the right-hand page in a book, always odd-numbered; front of a leaf

2. the primary side of a single sheet; the top side of a single sheet of paper (the felt side) or a piece of parchment or papyrus, whether printed or written on or not (GG, JC)

Alternate term: obverse
See also:

red under gilt edges

Edges that are “sprayed” with a red dye before gold leaf is applied; seen most often in devotional books (GG)

See also: gilt edges


1. the list of signature letters, words or numbers found in the book, usually printed at the end of the book in early printed books

2. in register: two impressions or images lying exactly over one another

3. signet; bound-in ribbon bookmark

4. entering a copyright (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms: back-up
  register in truth

reinforced binding

for heavy-use books, e.g., public library, the joints of a book are strengthened (GG)

See also: library binding


those books from a slow- or non-selling edition that are sold to a book distributor for sale at much-reduced prices; any binding placed on a remainder book is called the remainder binding, which often differs considerably from the original edition binding (GG)

Alternate terms: auction sales
trade sales

remboîté, remboîtage (F.)

the replacement of an original binding with another, usually more elegant, often for fraudulent reasons; no English term that is equivalent (GG, JC)

repp finish

wove paper into which is impressed a ribbed pattern to simulate laid paper; seen in some 1840s papers (GG, APPA)

ribbon-embossed book-cloth, pba02480ribbon-embossed book-cloth

1835–1842; raised designs made in book-cloth by pressing the material between male and female dies performed in a fly embossing press; once embossed, the material was adhered to case, and lettering and additional stamping in relief could be performed; patterns seen in ribbon-embossed cloth usually consisted of flower, leaves, vines, etc., often with a fine rib grain pattern background, usually diagonally oriented; common colors were blue and green, Allen


trade name for a thin, cheap, soft, nondurable sheepskin that is sumac-tanned, as a cheap substitute for morocco (ED, GG, JC)

See also: skiver


any typeface design that is upright, as opposed to sloped letter-designs such as italic and script faces; never capitalized; GG is erroneous in stating that “roman” does not pertain to black- or gothic letter style, it does, and the so-called humanistic typefaces similar to the one you are reading now is more properly termed “Roman,” because it was based on letter forms chiseled into Roman stone monuments (so-called lapidary letter forms) (GG, PG)

See also: italic

rough calf

rather than the grain side being the side seen on a binding, the flesh, suede-like side is out; polished (GG, JC)

Alternate term: reversed calf
See also:

rough gilt edges

1. gilding the edge(s) before the book is sewn

2. to emulate deckle edges on machine-made paper, the fore-edge and tail edge of the book are trimmed slightly, or roughly opened with a knife, while the top edge is cut smooth to open the pages; at least the fore-edge is rough gilt; only the head edge can be burnished (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate term: gilt on the rough
See also:
gilt edges


a double-line circle with a center dot (ED)


the process preceding backing; after sewing and pasting-up the back, the book lies flat on the table and the fore-edge pulled toward the binder which causes the back to fan forward, coaxed gently by a backing hammer; this creates a round configuration to one half of the back, and the procedure is repeated with the book turned the other way up; thus flexed and slightly rounded, the book can now be lined (saddleback) or backed into a permanent concave shape extending to the outer edge of the boards (GG, ED)

Alternate term: saddleback
See also:
flat back

rubric, rubricated, rubricator

chapter, section, or other division title written or printed in red, while the text is in black (GG, JC)

Alternate term: rubrisher


strips of brass, type-high, used to print a single line or a line of a simple pattern, measured across in points; used for separating contents on a title page, for example, and for boxes, where the ends are mitered for a neat corner; if more ornamental and broader, often referred to as Linotype rule slides or Monotype dashes (GG, JC)

Alternate term: brass rule
See also: double rule
  french dash

run-up spine

refers to the spine of a book that has two parallel lines tooled along the length of the joints and across the spine, forming panels; done with a two-line roll and a pallet (GG)

Alternate term: panel

Russia cowhide (russia cowhide, E.)

inferior Russia leather made of cowhide and given a straight grain; from 1691, other leathers tanned and impregnated with a phenolic oil distilled from a European birch to resemble Russia leather (GG)

Alternate terms: American Russia
  American russia (E.)
See also:
Russia leather

Russia leather (russia leather, E.)

a reddish-brown calfskin, impregnated with an aromatic oil distilled from a birch tree, tanned with willow bark, and dyed with sandalwood; originated in Russia; popular in England from 1730 to 1840; tends to dry out and become friable; often tooled or grained between plates with a diaper or diced pattern (crossed diagonal lines, forming diamonds) (GG, ED, JC )

See also: Russia cowhide


sewing booklets and pamphlets through the fold by placing the gatherings over a saddle in a sewing machine (GG, ED)

Alternate term: stapling
See also:

scratted paper

splashing small blobs of color onto paper, like marbling; used for endpapers (GG)

See also: marbling

seal grain leather

split sheepskin grained to resemble seal (GG)

Alternate term: seal


1. a gathering with any accompanying tipped-in plates and other inserts, awaiting collation and gathering before sewing (GG)

2. see gathering (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms: 2. gathering
See also:
1. signature

self endpapers

endpapers that are the same paper as the text paper (GG)

Alternate term: self ends (E.)


the upper and lower “cover” of a pamphlet or booklet printed as part of the text (GG)

See also: wrapper

semis, seme, semé, semée

decoration of randomly sprinkled, small ornaments; from heraldry; French semer: to sow (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate term: powdered
See also:


a book published in parts appearing at regular intervals; often preceding publication in book form, e.g., many of Dickens’s works were first read as serials printed in magazines (GG, JC)

series binding

similar bindings issued by a publisher for a series of works, often related by subject or genre (GG)

Alternate term: publisher’s series


a printing process involving masking out nonprinting areas on a screen stretched over a frame, allowing ink to be squeegeed through the open areas onto the paper below (BG)

Alternate terms: silk screen
See also:

shaved edges

edges of book that have been more than trimmed but not as severely ploughed as in cropping (JC)

Alternate term: touched edges
See also:
cropped, cropped edges


with thread or wire, attaching a pamphlet or book together by working from front to rear, usually in a series of holes running parallel to the inner margin, not through the fold(s) (GG)

See also: stab-sewing, stab-stitching


the outer surfaces of the upper and lower boards (GG)

See also: cover


1. a printed notation on the first page of each gathering of a book, either a letter and/or numeral, usually located in the bottom margin, under the last line of the text, near the gutter

2. in America, an alternative term for a gathering, which is preferred to avoid confusing with 1. signature

3. a gathering without any accompanying plates, etc. (GG)

(GG, ED, JC)
Alternate terms: 2. gathering
See also:
3. section

signed binding, pbw01201signed binding

the name of the binder either:

1. palleted in gold (or sometimes, blind) on the inside of the upper cover of a book, usually on the turn-in

2. palleted in gold (or blind) at the foot of the spine

3. printed a small printed label, called a binder’s ticket, located on an inside cover (not to be confused with the bookseller’s ticket)

4. embossed in blind on the front flyleaf; the latter two falling during the period 1850–1860, see Allen (RBS Course Timeline) (GG, JC)

See also:
binder’s embossed signature
binder’s ticket

signet (F.)

a ribbon, usually silk, incorporated into the binding and used as a bookmark (GG, ED)

Alternate terms: bookmarker
register ribbon bookmark

silver leaf

silver leaf generally was not used because of its tendency to tarnish, but can occasionally be found on books dating in the early 1850s; other white metal leafs were used including palladium, see Allen (RBS Course Timeline)


a book format consisting, traditionally, of a sheet of paper is folded so that there are 16 leaves and 32 pages; in modern practice, a book size about 6.75 x 4.5 inches (GG, ED)

Alternate terms: 16°
See also:

sixties book

specifically refers to books whose binding designs appeared in English trade books of the 1860s (JC)


1. tub-, surface- or external sizing: gelatin or starch solution applied to dry paper to seal the surfaces and prevent penetration of inks, etc.

2. internal sizing: rosin soap with alum added to the beater (or engine, as in engine sizing); precipitated onto the fibers and set as an adhesive in the paper when dried over heated drums; provides internal strength, but paper still needs to be externally sized for most purposes; very acidic often leading to brittle paper, especially in presence of large quantities of lignin found groundwood (mechanical wood) pulp papers

3. a thinned adhesive used to provide tack, e.g., for gold leaf applications (GG, APPA, ED, JC)

Alternate term: 3. pounce

size staining

compared to foxing, these stains are larger with amorphous shapes and irregular edges; probably due to deteriorated sizing in/on the sheet, and/or the transfer of bad sizing from sheet to sheet during dampening and letterpress or intaglio printing; exacerbated by damp and dirty storage conditions (RE)

See also: foxing


excess gold leaf brushed off covers; collected in a rubbing-off chest or from under slanted wooden floors and sent off to be refined into gold (GG)


an nondurable, thin leather used for the very cheapest of leather bindings, as well as for labels, etc., of the outer half, grain and flesh sides, of a split sheepskin, tanned with sumac, and finished through graining and polishing to resembled better leathers; used in England from 1768; when worn is difficult to distinguish skiver from roan (GG, ED, JC)

See also: roan

slipcase (slip case, E.)

a five-sided, protective container with the front open to slip in a book, spine-side out (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate term: slip cover
See also:
clamshell box


the frayed and splayed ends of cords before they are adhered to the inside of the covers (GG, ED)

See also: cords

smooth calf

untooled calfskin binding (GG)

smooth-washed cloth

book-cloth that is not grained with some kind of pattern (GG)

See also: grain pattern book-cloth

Smyrna morocco

sheepskin grained to resemble morocco (GG)

See also: morocco

Spanish calf

a light-colored calf, ideal for staining with a brilliant dye, usually in dashes or large flecks of color (GG, JC)

See also: marbled calf
  sprinkled calf
  tree calf


the outer area of the book that covers and protects the back; the area that carries the title, author’s name, etc. and is exposed on the bookshelf; often shows marked difference in fading and deterioration because of exposure to air, light, and heat compared with the rest of the book (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms: backbone
See also:

split skin

thick skin, usually from sheep, split laterally to yield either a thinner outer leather or parchment with a grain and a flesh side with the other part discarded, or two skins, one with a grain and a flesh side, and another with two flesh sides, see Reed (ED)

sprinkled calf, pba01658sprinkled calf

calfskin that has been decorated by sprinkling acid on it, often using a bundle of twigs dipped in the acidic solution; if classical gold tooled ornaments added, called Etruscan style (GG, ED, JC)

See also: Etruscan binding
  marbled calf
  tree calf

sprinkled edges

usually all three trimmed edges are sprinkled or splattered with color ink(s) while the book is clamped tight (ED, JC)

See also: gilt edges


the margins of the book cover that extent beyond the textblock when the book is closed; this protects the edges (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate term: book-square
See also:
trimmed flush

stab-sewing, stab-stitching

holes are pierced near the edge of the back, either for one or a few gatherings, from the front through to the back, and then fastened with thread; wire-stitching and stapling in the same manner; the pamphlet or book cannot open flat; sometimes used as a temporary sewn fastening of small books before the final binding is done (GG, ED, JC)

stamping press

later version of arming press; gas-heated platen to keep stamps at regular temperature for stamping blind, gold leaf, or inks on book covers (GG)

Alternate terms: arming press
  blocking press (E.)
See also:
fly embossing press


from Greek: solid or fixed type; a relief printing plate that is used as a substitute for set pages of moveable type or a block; after the form(s) of type are set, one of three methods can be used to make the stereoplate: 1. the form(s) placed in a casting box and plaster of Paris is poured into it making a mould or matrix, once dry, the plaster cast shrinks away from the type enough to remove it and then cast a plate with molten type metal (lead, tin, antimony); 2. wet papier mâché is pushed into the set or block within a frame, then used as a mould for casting a plate; or 3. flong, layers of soft papers, are beaten into the type or block, dried, and used as a matrix for casting the plate; papier mâché and flong have the advantage of being useful for several castings and for being flexible enough to be cast curved for use on rotary presses); corrections are made in the plate by drilling out the offending letter and soldering in the correct one, usually causing a bold or light letter on printing; to make the plate useable, the back is filled with type metal to a predetermined thickness (not usually type high as this would involve too much metal and render the plates very heavy, even when cut into individual pages); experimented with in late 17th c., but not commercially viable until the early 1800s in England, in America, by 1813 (GG, JC)

See also: electrotype

stilted covers

a book bound in taller covers than usual so it matches height of other books (GG, JC)

straight-grain morocco

goatskin that is wetted and worked with a ridged board to straighten the grain to run in parallel lines; about 1766, Roger Payne; until 1810, often dyed green or red, and after, dark blue or black; coarse version of this called scored calf (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms: boarded leather
  English morocco (in France)


intertwined double-tooled lines forming a geometrical pattern; found on many bindings done for Jean Grolier (ED)


cheap, relatively weak cardboard made from unbleached straw (thus it has a dark yellow color) plus other waste fibers; used in cases (GG)

See also: millboard


a narrow strip of paper in the gutter that is either the unused half of a guard, or is created when an incorrect leaf is cut out (a cancel), and onto which the correct leaf is tipped; created by cutting down an unused leaf at the gutter in order to compensate in thickness for extra material (plates, specimens, etc.) tipped or mounted onto a text page (GG, JC)

Alternate term: guard

subtitle (sub-title, E.)

the explanatory material, usually set in small point size, typeface, and/or color, under the title on the title page (GG, JC)

See also: title page


a starched and glazed, loosely woven cotton fabric, similar to cambric, used as a lining for the back of a book; the extensions of the fabric beyond the back are adhered to the inside of the covers in cased books and can often be seen and felt under the pastedown (GG, ED)

Alternate terms: crash


sewing on supports such as cords, tapes, or thongs (ED)

Alternate terms: bound book
  laced-in boards


the owner’s name, coat-of-arms, initials, or monogram stamped or tooled onto the cover (or spine?) (GG, ED)

Alternate term: personal bindings

table book

elaborated decorated trade binding, meant to be placed face-up on a table; popular in America in the 1850s (GG)

Alternate term: coffee-table book


refers to the bottom of the cover, the lower edge, or the lower margin on a page; opposite the head (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate term: foot
See also:

tailband (tail-band, E.)

a “headband” at the tail of the book; often the term, headbands, refer to both head- and tailbands (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate term: bottomband
See also:


woven strips of cloth, between 1/4 and 1/2 wide, used as sewing supports (GG)

See also: cords


treating animal skins with alum and salts of iron or chromium; skins are white and supple; alum-tawed pigskin used on heavy books, and also as thongs for sewing supports, ties, etc. (GG)

Alternate terms: alum-tawed
  Hungarian leather
See also: leather


the whole of the printed matter plus any endpapers after folding and collating and after sewing (JC)

text illustration

illustrations printed within the text as opposed to separately printed plates (GG)

See also: plates


a book format consisting, traditionally, of a sheet of paper cut, folded, and inset into a gathering of 36 leaves and 72 pages; in modern practice, a book size ranging from 4 x 3.25 and 4.75 x 3 inches (GG)

Alternate terms: 36°


a book format consisting, traditionally, of a sheet of paper cut, folded, and inset into a gathering so that there are 32 leaves and 64 pages; in modern practice, a book size around 4.75 x 3 inches (GG)

Alternate terms: 32°


strips of leather, especially alum-tawed pigskin, or vellum used as sewing supports or as ties (GG)

See also: cords


usually a novel that is originally issued in three octavo volumes, often with paper-covered boards and paper labels on the spine; heyday was between 1850 and 1870, and these had better binding in cloth and with gold stamping; relatively expensive per volume (GG, JC)

Alternate term: triple-decker

three-quarter binding, three-quarter-bound

a binding format where the spine and a larger proportion of the sides are covered with one material, while a second material covers the remaining side area; when the whole of the spine and large corners are covered in one material, while the sides are covered in a second, in about a 3:1 ratio; three-quarter-bound in calf with marbled paper sides (GG, ED, JC)

See also: full binding (bound)
  quarter binding (bound)
  half binding (bound)


tapes, thongs, ribbon, or similar material secured to the outside covers, usually three (top, fore-edge, and tail); used to keep the book (or portfolio) closed (GG, JC)

See also: clasps

tight back

a book structure whereby the covering material is adhered directly to the back; disadvantage is that the covering material tends to wrinkle and crack compared to the hollow back (GG)

See also: hollow back

tipped in, tipped on

instead of being sewn or stitched into the book, a plate, illustration, page, endpaper, etc., is either adhered to a guard, stub, or onto a page; in the latter, the extra material can be pasted along at the gutter (tipped-in) or elsewhere on a page (tipped-on) (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms: paste-in

title page (E. title-page)

the page carrying the essential information about the book including the title, subtitle, author, credentials, publisher’s mark, publisher’s name, address(es), date (GG, JC)

top edge gilt (t.e.g.)

only the top or head edge is gilt; the fore-edge and tail edge left plain (GG, JC)

See also: gilt solid edges

trade binding

1. to refer generally to books bound for the trade, e.g., a bookseller, rather than for a specific person, and not proscribed in any way by the publisher or printer

2. in England from 15th through 18th c., said of a binding in sheep or plain calf, only rarely lettered on the spine

3. current usage: synonymous for publisher’s binding, edition binding (GG, JC)

Alternate terms: 1. wholesaler’s binding
See also:
Edition binding
publisher’s binding

tree calf, pba01913tree calf

calfskin is adhered to the boards, but turn-in are left free; the spine of the book is covered to protect it from the treatment that the outside of the upper and lower covers will receive; with the inverted book clamped at an inclined angle, water is applied to run from the “top” to the bottom, forming a tree trunk and branches (or in other cases, wood grain as in veneer); when ready, a solution of copperas (ferrous sulfate) and salts of tartar (pearl ash?) are alternatively thrown on the cover; where they react with the wet leather, a dark gray or black staining results (this actually forms a kind of acidic iron gall ink); the covers are rinsed and pressed dry; highly polished; the stain is permanent, and it also tends to deteriorate the leather; appeared in England in about 1775, John Baumgarten (GG, ED, JC)

Alternate terms: tree-marbled calf
See also: marbled calf
  mottled calf
  sprinkled calf

trimmed flush

the covers are cut flush to the page edges after boards are attached (GG)

Alternate term: cut flush
See also:


process of cutting edge(s) down until most leaves are of even width from the back and the book is open, i.e., the top and fore-edge folds are cut off; first done by hand with a plough and later on the guillotine; sometimes cut means cut smooth, while trimming implies a rough leveling (GG, ED, JC)

See also: cut edges

Turkey leather, Turkey (turkey, E.)

originally a goatskin treated with oil before dehairing and then stained a distinctive red before sumac tanning; imported from Turkey to Venice in early 16th c.; in later centuries, goatskin leathers that looked like the original that came from the Levant (GG, JC)

See also: morocco


the excess covering material beyond the edges of the boards that are lapped-over the board edges and adhered to the inside of the covers at the edges; the corners are cut back in such a way that they form a butt joint and a mitered corner on the inside cover (GG, ED)

Alternate term: margins


a book format consisting, traditionally, of a sheet of paper cut, folded, and inset into a gathering of 24 leaves and 48 pages; in modern practice, a book size of about 5.5 x 3.75 inches (GG)

Alternate terms: 24°


pieces of metal cast from a matrix on the face of which appears a letter, mark, decoration in reverse; when set and locked up in a form, the surface of all of these pieces are inked and an impression from them made when paper is pressed down onto them; each letter, etc., that appears on the face of a piece of type (sort, character) is first engraved and filed into the face of a bar of tool steel, the punch; when completed, the punch is first hardened then tempered so that it can be struck into a bar of copper, which becomes the matrix; once justified, the matrix can be inserted into a hand mould and many pieces of type cast from it; type comes in many different sizes (points) and designs; until the end of the 19th c., type was made primarily be hand until this was supplanted by Linotype and Monotype machine-cast type (GG, PG)

Alternate terms: character
stamp (E.)

type family

all the roman, italic, bold, semi-bold, small capitals, and display characters that form a family of the same typeface, such as Baskerville and Bodoni (GG, PG)

type ornaments

so-called flowers, geometric decorations, dashes, initials, corners, etc., cast into pieces of type (GG, ED)

Alternate term: fleuron

typeface (E. type face)

the specific shape and form of each letter, lower- and uppercase, as well as the numerals, punctuation marks, etc., that is found in a font of type and in a variety of point sizes, drawn and/or cut by the type designer (PG)

Alternate term: face
See also:


a book whose pages are not open because the folds at the top and/or fore-edge were not trimmed or cut (GG, JC)

Alternate term: unopened
untouched edges


an especially fine grade of parchment; often the skin of a young animal (occasionally, uterine) such as calf, kid, or lamb, see Reed (1972); thin and finely grained and used for small quality books, either as the pages or cover (GG, ED, JC)

See also: parchment

vellum corner

for a half-binding where there are no corners, they are covered with a piece of vellum, leather, or cloth just at the tips and turned back to the inside; except in French corners, these tips show when the sides are covered (ED)

See also: French corner


1. the left-hand page in a book, always even-numbered; the reverse or back side of a leaf

2. the secondary side of a single sheet; the bottom side of a single sheet of paper (the wire side) or a piece of parchment or papyrus, whether printed or written on or not (GG, JC)

Alternate term: reverse
See also:


1. an ornament or small design or illustration found on a title page, or over the chapter title (headpiece) or under the text at the end of a chapter or part of a book (tailpiece)

2. a text illustration that has no border surrounding it (GG, JC)


a limp-bound book that features a flap at the fore-edge that extends from the edge of the lower cover onto the upper cover where it fastens into a slot (GG)


a distortion in the covers of a book, usually caused by uneven tension on one side of the board(s) making the cover(s) either concave or convex, due to incompatible materials, poor technique, inadequate pressing, and/or climatic changes (GG, ED)

See also: yawning boards

watered silk

silk that is calendered to give it a watery look; a wavy, damask-like appearance; a material often used for doublures (GG)

Alternate term: moiré


usually an image or design (as opposed to a countermark made-up of words and dates) formed in paper made from contact with a watermark sewn or soldered onto the wire cover of a hand papermaking mould; as the mould watermark is raised above the surface of the cover, the fibers are less dense in this area in the paper, and so paper watermarks are seen in transmitted light as lighter areas compared to the rest of the sheet; mould watermarks can be made of wire sewn onto the cover or cut from sheet metal and soldered in place; on the cylinder papermachine, the watermarks are soldered onto the cover; in fourdrinier papers, the water is impressed into the wet sheet, and merely pushes fibers aside, thus a dark ridge can be seen in transmitted light around the edges of letter or image, not a true watermark (DH)

See also: countermark

white lead

basic lead carbonate was a common white pigment used alone or in combination with other colors in coated papers; upon exposure to acids (from the leather turn-in or the adhesive) or gaseous pollutants, the white lead turns to lead sulfide which can be a mottled orange, gray, or black discoloration, often resembling mold growth (GS)

Alternate term: flake white

wire stitching

1870s, August Brehmer, American, wire stitching machine; wire staples inserted either through the fold in a single-signature pamphlet, or stab- (side-) stitched or stapled through multi-signatures book parallel to the back and usually from front to the back of textblock with or without wrapper or cover (GG)

Alternate terms: staple
  wire stabbing
wire stapling

wood engraving

a relief block and print; design/picture is made by removing the image lines with a graver on a piece of endgrain boxwood or other close-grained wood; other tools are used to clear larger areas of white; generally, white line/areas on a black background; as the endgrain blocks are necessarily small in size, larger images are made by gluing up several smaller units to make a composite block; Thomas Bewick (pronounced, Buick), English, credited with its revival in late 18th c. (BG)

See also: engraving, engraved


a relief block and print; the image is made by removing the white areas with carving tools, knives and gouges, in a plank piece of wood; the surface is inked up and the image printed onto paper under pressure; compared to wood engravings and intaglio prints, the quality of line in woodcuts is somewhat cruder; a black line on a white background (BG)

Alternate terms: wood block
See also:
wood engraving

wove paper

paper formed on a hand papermaking mould where the wire cover is woven as in a plain textile weave and there is underneath a second, more-coarsely woven wire cloth; these two wire cloths are attached with thin wire to the ribs underneath; as the watery pulp is no longer attracted to the latter areas, there is no difference in pulp accumulation; the paper is more evenly dense across its surfaces and no dark shadows can be seen in transmitted light (DH)

Alternate terms: double-face wove paper
  vélin (F.)
See also:
antique wove paper


a paper cover (plain, printed, or marbled) sewn along with the pamphlet; paper cover adhered to the back as a temporary binding (GG, JC)

yapp, yapp edges, Yapp

Yapp was a London bookseller, credited with inventing this technique about 1860; usually limp leather binding edges (upper and lower covers) allowed to flop over half the depth of the textblock to protect same; not to be confused with the overhanging edges on much earlier limp vellum bindings; very popular on Roycroft Shop binding in ooze leather at the turn of the 20th c. (GG, JC)

yawning boards

covers that curve away from the book (ED)

See also: warping
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