Glossary: rare books

Agents of the book   1) Papermaker, 2) Printer, 3) Former owner/Reader/Bookseller, 4) Bookbinder

Alum-tawed   Treated skin rendered yellow-white in colour

Bevelled   Usually edges, cut or sanded to a gentle slope

Biting of bows   Elided letters

Blind-tooled   Decoration impressed onto binding material without the use of colour or leaf

Boss   Metalwork, usually cornerpieces, used to strengthen or decorate bookbindings: usually found with wooden boards and on items destined to lie not stand

Broadside   Sheet of paper printed on one side, e.g.: ballad, poster, proclamation, advertisement

Cadel   Extending above/below the line, and usually calligraphic in style

Cancel/cancelland   Replacement or substitution of leaves

Catchword   The word which appears at the bottom of the page following the final line of text. It heralds the first word which appears on the following page

Cockling   Wrinkling or puckering in a sheet of paper or board

Colophon   Information detailing the production/printing of an item, usually appearing at the very end of an item

Device   A mark appearing on title-page/colophon created by/for printers to protect against forgery and piracy

Diaper   A repeated diamond pattern

Drawer handle   Motif shaped liked a drawer handle, usually employed in groups

Editio princeps   First printed edition of a work

Endleaves/endpapers   Leaves, usually blank, located inside front and rear covers before/after the textblock

Extra-illustrated   Also known as grangerization; the inclusion of material by binder/owner such as blank leaves, illustrations etc., not part of the original publication

Fillet   A plain line impressed onto binding material using an engraved wheel tool

Finger tab   A finding aid, a piece of material glued to the foredge of a leaf, used to bookmark a significant section

Fleuron   Leaf/flower motif

Foliated   Leaf/ flower motif

Foredge   The front edge of textblock/binding, directly opposite its spine

Gathering   Sheets printed and then folded for binding, e.g.: an octavo gathering is one printed sheet folded three times, giving rise to 8 leaves or 16 pages

Gauffered   Indented pattern impressed using heated tools

Gold-tooled   Decoration with gold leaf impressed or painted onto binding material

Hatching   Parallel lines

Historiated   Figures or scene relating to the text

Incunable   An early printed book, especially one printed before 1501

Inhabited   Containing human or animal figures

Limp binding   Material used without supporting inner boards

Lozenge   Diamond-shaped

Manicule   A finding aid, usually a pointing hand, used to signal a significant section

Manuscript   Written by hand

Marbled   Colours in a veined, combed or swirled pattern

Morocco   Goatskin

Pamphlet   A type of publication usually consisting of 5-48 unbound pages, inherently fragile in nature

Panel stamp binding   Decoration impressed onto binding material using a large engraved stamp

Pastedown   Leaves, usually blank, pasted inside to front and rear covers

Quatrefoil   Four leaves

Rampant   A creature standing on two legs with paws raised

Rebacking   Reattachment of original spine or fragments onto new leather which extends under covers

Roll   A repeated pattern impressed onto binding material using an engraved wheel tool

Rubrication   Text in red

Saltire   In the shape of the letter X

Sammelband   distinct works, originally published separately, subsequently bound together in one volume, e.g.: at the request of a new owner

Semis/semé   A scattering or a background, e.g.: stars, flowers

Signature   The letter, number or symbol which appears at the bottom of a leaf, intended as a guide for the bookbinder to the running order of leaves

Tête-bêche   One inverted in relation to the other

Uncut   A printed sheet, folded for gathering and binding, bearing untrimmed edges

Unicum   Unique specimen, example, copy

Watermark   Motif/emblem/device sewn onto papermaking mesh; paper is therefore thinner at this point and the mark is easy to see

Woodcut   An image carved/gouged into wood (also on metal), which is then inked for printing or applied blind