A la cathédrale

: the name given to the richly gilded bindings with elaborate onlays of colored leather, inspired by stained glass windows, which were introduced in Paris in the early nineteenth century when there was considerable interest in Gothic art.

A la Duseuil

: a French binding style characteristic of the early seventeenth century. Red morocco covers had as their principal decoration an outer three-line frame near the edges, and an inner three-line frame embellished at the corners with fleurons, leaving a space in the center of each cover for the arms of the owner. The style is often erroneously attributed to the eighteenth-century binder Augustin Du Seuil, but it was fashionable forty years before his birth.

A la fanfare

: an elaborate style of French binding developed from about 1570-1640. The main features are complex geometrical interlacing ribbons forming compartments of various shapes as well as a multitude of scrolls wreaths sprays and flowers, filling all compartments on back and sides except the central one. The name fanfare derives from a copy of “Les Fanfares et corvées abbadesques des Roule-Bontemps” printed in 1613 and acquired by the bibliophile Charles Nodier in 1829. Nodier asked Thouvenin, a famous Parisian binder, to rebind the book. Thouvenin based his decoration on the style attributed to Nicolas Eve and his workshop (1578-1634). It was from this nineteenth-century invention that the seventeenth-century bindings became known retrospectively as à la fanfare.

a. e. g.

: abbreviation for “all edges gilt”. Refers to the outer edges of the pages of the book, those trimmed smooth and coated with gold leaf.


: a book containing the alphabet, spelling, rules, tables, or an elementary grammar. These primers were in use in Europe before the invention of printing. Those for learning Latin usually contained extracts from the writings of Aelius Donatus.


: a foliate motif much used in medieval border decoration and derived from the depiction of the plump, long leaves of the acanthus plant.


: brief additional data printed separately and added to a book in at the beginning or end of the text and less extensive than a supplement.


: a style of decorating book covers practiced in Venice in the late fifteenth century by craftsmen from the Near East. Features were patterns of cutout leather, gilded arabesques, and a colored background.


: a book containing the days, weeks and months of the year together with festivals, astronomical data and other items of interest.


: a book curse or denunciation added to a manuscript or printed book by a scribe or sometimes owner (example: “Christ’s curse upon the crook/ Who takes this book away”).


: Book containing the texts with their music (antiphons, responses, psalms, and hymns) for all the feasts of the church sung by the monks at the eight canonical hours of the Divine Office.

Architectural bindings

: binding with architectural designs delineated by tooled outlines of base, columns, pediments, etc., done with straight and curved fillets. In Parisian examples, made between 1565 and 1572, onlays of colored calf and morocco gave emphasis to the architectural features.

Armorial binding

: binding decorated with arms or other device of royalty or nobility as a mark of ownership.


: the heraldic devices of a family, country, institution, etc.; see also shield.

Ars moriendi

: literally, “the art of dying,” This was the name of an anonymous work, probably intended for those advising the dying how to overcome temptation.


: the vertical ascending stem of lower-case letters such as b, d, k, etc., that part which extends above the body of the letter.

Aux petits fers

: the decoration on a book cover resulting when small individual tools are impressed upon it to build up complete patterns.


: a book of birds, and particularly a manuscript volume illustrated in the manner of a bestiary, with depictions of real or imaginary birds.


: the part of the cover of a book which conceals the folds of the sections and is covered by the spine.


: a book containing myths and folklore about real or imaginary animals and places.

Bible moralisée**

: a book of religious instructions popular in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Europe. It was essentially a picture book, arranged with eight Biblical scenes to a page, each set in a square or roundel and interpreted by a Latin text.

Biblia pauperum

: an illustrated biblical commentary, sometimes in Latin and sometimes in the vernacular, very popular in Continental countries before the Reformation. Many manuscripts and printed forms of it are preserved in different languages. It was one of the earliest books printed in the Netherlands and Germany, first from blocks and then from type.

Binder’s waste

: surplus sheets, usually printed, sometimes manuscript, employed by binders for lining or paste downs, sometimes found in the spine as stuffing.

Manuscript pastedown as an example of binders waste.

Binding - full binding

: a binding in which the covering material uniformly covers the boards and the spine. Usually applied to a leather bound book.

Binding - half binding

: a binding in which the spine (as well as up to about half the upper and lower covers) and the corners are covered with a stronger material than the rest of the sides.

Binding - quarter binding

: a binding in which the spine and only a very small part of the upper and lower covers are covered with a stronger material.

Binding - three-quarters binding

: In “three-quarters binding” the material used on the spine extends up to half the width of the boards.


: unprinted or unwritten leaf which is part of a quire or signature. It can be found at the beginning and the end of a book or a section to make an even count.

Blind tooling

: embossed lettering or designs by means of heated tools such as rolls into a leather or cloth binding without the use of gold, ink or foil.

Blind-stamped panels

: designs impressed on the leather cover of a book by means of a single engraved wood or metal panel stamp bearing a complete design.

Block books

: a book either of text or text and pictures printed entirely from woodcuts. Typically, they were printed only on one side of the leaf in thin brownish ink. Extant examples belong to the era 1455-1510 primarily from The Netherlands and Germany. Once thought to precede printing, block books are now known to have developed simultaneous to printing with movable type.

Blooming letters

: large display capitals deeply engraved in boxwood. The strokes of the letters were formed by splayed stalk, leaf and flower motifs.


: the stiff paper or wood boards used for the sides of a hard bound book or manuscript and usually covered with thick paper, cloth or leather.

Book of Common Prayer

: the first complete service book in English which, with modifications, has been the official order of the Church of England services since the Elizabethan Act of Uniformity of 1559. The Book of Common Prayer was inspired by Archbishop Cranmer, who wrote most of, and was mainly an English translation of the medieval Latin Sarum use with additions from several English and Latin devotional books, and with the Psalms and other biblical passages from the Great Bible of 1540.

Book of Hours

: also called a primer, or horae, and derived originally from the Psalter, the Book of Hours takes its name from the prayers recited at home during the eight different times or hours of the day; it was a medieval best-seller bought by scores of people, ordinary and wealthy.


: pictorial decoration surrounding the area of text and image on the page and often composed of floral, foliate, or figurative ornament.


: small raised metallic ornament of brass or silver fixed upon the covers of a book, usually at the corners and the center, for embellishment and protection against rubbing. Associated with medieval bookbinding, they were rarely used after the sixteenth century.


: book containing the Divine Office to be recited by those in monastic orders; includes psalms, prayers, and lections.


: a large sheet of paper printed on one side only. Broadsides were used soon after the beginning of printing for royal proclamations and official notices. In the sixteenth century century poems and ballads were printed in this form in England.


: the calendar section of illuminated manuscripts and printed books most often precede liturgical and devotional texts. They identify feast days pertinent to the patron and the region, using different colors, often in red ink or sometimes in gold leaf to highlight important feasts, such as Christmas or the Annunciation (so-called red-letter days). Calendars vary in accordance with local use.


: a high-grade leather, prepared in natural color or dyed, from calf skin and in rough or smooth finish, used for bookbinding. It is known to be used as early as 1450 and became later the usual material in England for trade bindings.


: a French term for chiaroscuro prints from two wood block. It is also, in the nineteenth century, a term used for tinted lithographs. Two-block printing was said to be en camaïeu. Camaïeu-gris was a name for the gray-black ink drawings enlivened with a few touches of color produced by some French miniaturists in the from the fourteenth century onward.

Cameo bindings

: book covers decorated with an inset or stamped cameo, especially important are those made in Italy from 1500-60.

Canceled leaf, cancellans

: in manuscript books, a leaf removed from a gathering or quire with no loss of text; in printed books a new leaf or signature reprinted and inserted because of errors or defects in the leaf or signature that it replaces.

Canon Tables

: concordances to the Gospels, compiled by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (c.265 – c.340), setting out in columns references to corresponding passages in each. In medieval Greek and Latin Gospel books the tables were usually enclosed within architectural shapes and formed one of the principal display pages.


: a word written at the end of a quire or gathering usually in the lower margin that repeats the first word of the next page, thus facilitating the final arrangement of quires by the binder.

Chained books

: books secured by chains to a horizontal bar which extended above the reading desk on which they rested, or to a shelf over it. This method of securing books was used in monastic and other libraries from the early fifteenth century until, in English church libraries, the early eighteenth century.

Character books

: a work offering the reader moral edification by describing aspects of human nature to avoid. Such books were popular in England and France during the first half of the seventeenth century and were inspired by the “Moral characters” of Aristotle’s pupil Theophrastus (c. 370-287 BC).


: a loose cover of chevrotain, other leather, or sometimes of silk, which was fitted over the boards. Dating from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, they were sometimes used in place of binding.


: properly chiaro-oscuro, meaning light and dark, and the name for single-color wood engravings printed from successive blocks of wood for solid masses of lighter or darker shades. A key block for the darkest tone is printed first followed by from one to three tint blocks to add either light shades of the same color or tones of a different color.


: a woodblock illustration (xylograph) containing writing added by hand (Greek: cheiro meaning 'hand')

Choir Book

: service book containing the parts of the Mass or the Divine Office sung by the choir (see Antiphonary and Gradual).


: process of printing in color from a series of stones prepared as for lithography; said to be invented in the nineteenth century by Godefroy Engelmann (1788-1839), who with his son, Godefroy II, founded the Société Englemann, Père et Fils, in 1837.


: originally, a detailed contemporary record of events arranged in order of time but without any attempts at literary style. The monastic chronicles of medieval days recorded national as well as local events and are in many cases the only accounts of them to survive.

Clamshell case

: a protective book box, constructed of a hinged case that houses the book, while providing for easy opening and viewing.


: ornamental clasps of brass, or of a precious metal, were a feature of bookbindings from the late fourteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. They were fitted to the boards of books at the fore-edge, over which they fastened, their purpose being to prevent warping of the boards. This was a practical feature of bookbinding when books were stored flat on shelves or chained to a stand. The metal was often elaborately chased.


: term that gives the number and composition of sections in gatherings, quires, or signatures, used to indicate whether they are in the right order as well as their completeness.


: from the Greek "kolophon," meaning finishing touch. The original meaning is the inscription the copyist placed at the end of a manuscript, indicating some or all of the following: the title of the work, the name of the copyist, the date and place of copying, and a blessing for the patron or client who commissioned it. Shorter colophons named only the copyist and date. Early printed colophons followed the manuscript tradition including particulars of authorship and printer, where printed, date of completion, and publisher's or printer's device, with possibly the number of copies printed, apologies for errors and other details. Those were often arranged as a tailpiece and ornamented. By the early sixteenth century, the practice of identifying a book and its printer on the title-page was accepted, and the colophon was abandoned. A modern form of colophon is the production note at the end of private press books.

Color plate book

: A volume containing hand-painted illustrations, woodcuts, engravings, lithographs, or the like, usually of large format.


: an alphabetical index of selected words showing the places in the text of a book or an author’s complete works where each may be found.

Conjugate leaves

: a bifolium, or two leaves that can be traced into and out of the back of a book within a single gathering or signature and form one piece.


: an ornament, usually arabesque, designed to be used at the corners of a binding of a book, usually to match a center-piece or other decoration; it can also refer to the metal corners attached to the binding; in an illuminated manuscript, it designates the interlacing bars, "cusping," or other separate ornament at the corner of a border around the lettering.


: in binding, the triangular pieces of leather or cloth which cover the corners of half- or three-quarter bound books.

Cottage bindings**

: a seventeenth-century style of book decoration popular in England, in which the framework of the design tooled on the cover may be said to resemble a gable.


: the paper, board, cloth or leather (used singly or combined) to which the body of a book is placed securely on a sewn or stapled publication to protect it. The cover of a "hard cover" book is known as a "case" or "publisher's case." Upper cover is the front of the book; lower cover is the bottom or underside.

Covers bound in

: the original covers of a publication included within a later binding when a book is rebound. Often the covers are preserved when the volume is rebound by mounting them as flyleaves or using them as endpapers.


: minute punctures or depressions made in surfaces of wood or metal. Criblé backgrounds can be used to lighten borders which would appear too dark in relation to the text area of a page were they printed solid black

Criblé initials

: decorated initials used at the beginnings of chapters, notably by the sixteenth-century French printer Geoffrey Tory, in which the capital appears on an all-over ground of small dots or sieve-like pattern.


: a standard size of printing paper measuring 15 x 20 inches

Curtain bindings

: a distinctive style of book cover decoration, particular to Spain, and apparently limited to the years 1814-33. Fillets and gouges were used to tool patterns that simulated a draped curtain or pair of curtains. The design on upper and lower cover was not always the same. Curtains onlaid or inlaid in leathers of contrasting colors and also acid staining were used.

Chained Book

Deckle edge

: the rough uneven edge at the borders of a sheet of hand-made or mould-made paper; it is caused by the paper pulp confined under the frame or deckle of the mould. It can also be called "feather-edge."


: lace-like tooling on the edges or inside borders of a book cover and pointing towards the center. This binder's technique was used primarily in France in the eighteenth century. Dentelles were later used to embellish doublures.


: the vertical descending stem of lower-case letters extending below the base line, as in g, j, p, q, y.


: said of the gold- or blind-tooled cover of a book on which the decoration consists of a panel divided by a small uniform geometric pattern, e.g. a diamond. Each compartment of the pattern may bear a design or be left blank.

Said of cloth for book covers that has a grained pattern of diamonds or squares: the style was first popular about 1840.

The uniformly patterned background for pictorial scenes in illuminated manuscripts. Their extensive use dates from the later thirteenth century


: covers of a book on which the decoration is an ungilded field of diamonds or squares. To make it the leather could either be scored in a rolling press before covering or be impressed with a hand tool when finishing the book.

Divine Office

: a cycle of daily devotions, the prayers of the canonical hours (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Compline, Vespers), performed by the laity or the clergy.


: a term used in fourteenth century for any grammar textbook. It derives from the two Latin grammars of Aelius Donatus, a fourth-century Roman scholar and teacher of St Jerome, which were popular in Europe for over a thousand years


: the back or verso of a manuscript or parchment sheet.

Dorure sur cuir

: a gilder of leather or finisher. From 1581 onwards French binders (relieurs) and finishers (doreurs) were organized as separate guilds and the distinction is still maintained.

Dos à dos

: two books bound back to back so that the back cover of one serves as the back cover of the other, with the fore-edges of one next to the spine of the other.


: from the French "doubler," to line. An ornamental inside lining of a book cover made with tooled leather, silk, or other material.

Drop initial

: the initial capital letter at the beginning of a chapter approximately aligned at the top with the cap line of the first line of text and ranging at the foot over two or more lines.


: the book size resulting from folding a sheet of paper four times to form a section of twelve leaves (twenty-four pages) by means of right-angle folds.

Editio princeps

: the first printed edition of a manuscript text. The term applies particularly to classical texts first printed in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.


: all the copies of a work printed from the same setting of type and issued at one time or at intervals. An edition may comprise a number of impressions.

Emblem book

: a variety of illustrated book used for meditation and study that was popular in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The emblem was a woodcut or engraving, the meaning of the moral lesson represented pictorially being interpreted by a motto, epigram, verse or prose explanation.

Embossed bindings

: covers of leather or cloth which, before being attached to a book, had a design impressed on the sides and spine. This was done with a heated die and counter die held in a fly embossing press. Any lettering or gilt filleting was added by hand after fitting the cover to the book.


: paper, white or colored, printed or unprinted, inserted by the binder at the beginning and the end of a book to help fasten the sewn sections to the cover. One half is pasted to the inside of the cover; the other is pasted to the end leaf of a section.


: any metal plate or wooden block prepared by incising the design or lettering into the surface with a graver or burin; see intaglio. It also refers to the printed reproduction made from such a plate.


: interlacing ribbons or strapwork. They derive from Islamic art. As a feature of book covers they have embellished the work of most great French binders since the sixteenth century, notable being those made about 1545 for Grolier and François I by the so-called Entrelac bindery of Paris.


: a print from a plate into which the design has been etched by acid.

Ex-library copy

: Identifies a book that was once the property of an institutional or corporate library. Usually there are noticeable marks and stamps on the binding and/or in the text.


: a book that has had additional illustrations and printed matter added to and bound into a volume since publication.

Fan binding

: a decorative style for de luxe bindings made in France and Italy, mostly during the later seventeenth century. In France it was known as à l’éventail. The central design on the board was a fully opened fan, built up from numerous small tools to give a delicate lace-like effect. Quarters of a fan were tooled in the four outer corners of the board.


: a ornamental line or lines, usually of gold, impressed on the back or side of a book-cover. It also refers to the stamp or wheeled tool with which lines are impressed.


: an unprinted leaf at the beginning or end of a book, being the half of an endpaper.


: the book format resulting from folding a sheet of paper once, each sheet making two leaves or four pages. To define fully the size, the paper size should also be stated, e.g. crown folio. It also refers to the individual leaf of paper or parchment of a book or manuscript.


: the outer edge of a book opposite its spine.

Fore-edge painting

: a watercolor decoration, usually a scene or a geometric design, painted on the ends of the pages of the fore-edge of a book. Traditionally, the pages are painted so the decoration disappears when the book is closed and only appears again when the pages are fanned. However, the opposite can also be true of a fore-edge painting; the decoration can appear only when the book is closed. Although extant examples are rare from the Middle Ages, the tradition of fore-edge painting dates back to the tenth century and reached its peak of popularity in England in the latter half of the seventeenth century. A "double fore-edge" has two paintings, which can be seen singly by fanning the leaves first one way and then, the reverse. A "triple fore-edge" has a visible painting in addition.

Forel bindings

: early English bindings in which oak boards were covered with roughly dressed unsplit sheepskin. They were made by monks in the eighth and ninth centuries.


: a brown discoloration of paper and plates caused by damp which has affected impurities in the paper.


: in printed books, an illustration facing the title-page, sometimes separately pasted and guarded into a book; in manuscripts the opening large picture, often a presentation illustration.


: the process of assembling in their correct order for binding the various sections of a book; also used as a synonym for quire or signature, the basic unit of leaves in a manuscript or printed book.


: the decoration of the gilded edges of the leaves of a bound book with heated finishing tools which indent a small repeating pattern.

Gilt edges

: the edges of the pages of a book after they have been cut smooth and colored, usually with gold paint.


: a word or words that comment on, elucidate, or translate those of the main text and often written in the margins or between the lines.


: book containing text and music (introits, graduals and alleluias) sung between the Epistle and Gospel readings during the high Mass; their name coming from gradus (step) alludes to the first steps of the choir, the eastern part of the church where the singers sang.


: inserted illustrations, letters or documents with matter from other sources and not issued as part of a bound volume. The practice dates from 1769 when James Grangers published a "Bibliographical History of England" with blank pages bound in to receive desired illustrations.


: a painting technique first seen in fourteenth-century French altar cloths, then adopted in manuscripts and used widely in Europe, in France, the Netherlands and Italy through most of the fifteenth century. Painting is in a flat bluish-gray monochrome with highlights in white, gold and touches of red as the only colors used on it. Originally grisaille signaled a Lenten observance, as the sober altar cloths covered brightly painted altars during Lent.

Gutter margin

: the inner space between two facing pages


: the brief title of a book appearing on the recto of the leaf preceding the title-page and occupying a full, separate page.


: tints added by hand to an printed illustration such as a woodcut or an engraving; usually distinguished from coloring added mechanically, like using pochoirs or stencils.


: a small band often of colored silk threads, at the head of a book on the spine, which is sewn or glued to the folds of gatherings or quires, between them and the cover, and projecting slightly beyond the head. The headbands of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries were combined with a leather tab. The conventional cloth or silk headband was introduced in the early sixteenth century and decorative glued-on headbands were introduced in the early nineteenth century.


: a printed or engraved decorative band at the beginning of a chapter or a page.


: a book giving the names and descriptions of plants. Herbals are believed to date from the fourth century BC (Theophrastus); and a noteworthy early example is the Vienna Dioscorides.


: a strip of paper or fabric, placed between the two halves of an endpaper, where the body of the book is fixed to the covers, to reinforce the first and last signatures of a book.

Historiated initial

: a letter containing an identifiable scene or figures (from Latin, historia, meaning (story) sometimes relating to the text.

Holster book

: a pocket book used for memoranda, or for works frequently referred to on a daily basis, so called from its unusually long and narrow shape resulting from folding the sheet along the length and facilitating the use of the book suspended from the belt (holster or girdle). Or else you should say that this is synonymous with a girdle book.


: the art of decorating books with bright colors and precious metals so that they sparkle or light up; also refers to a picture in a manuscript (see miniature).


: books printed from movable metal type before 1501. The word derives from the Latin "cunae" meaning cradle; thus a book made "in the cradle of printing."


: an enlarged and decorated letter introducing an important section of a text.



: printing from a metal plate, usually copper, on which the image areas of the surface are incised by gravers or etched by acid. The plate is then inked and wiped, leaving ink only in the engraved parts. It is then placed with a damp sheet of paper on the bed of a press, layers of felt are added, and all pass through the press. The thickness of the layer of ink transferred to the paper is proportionate to the depth of the incised or etched recesses. As distinct from planographic and letterpress printing intaglio plates leave a layer of ink on the paper which can often be felt.

Jeweled bindings

: covers of gold, silver, or silver-gilt, often encrusted with semi-precious stones surrounding a central ivory plaque, were made in Europe to enclose service books for the church from about the sixth century onwards. Such books were carried in procession and kept in the church sacristy, not in the monastic library. The use of costliest materials to enclose the Gospels was an act of piety, not ostentation, and even the colors of the gems were symbolic, each associated with a mystical meaning. (also called “treasure binding”).

In general, the making of gold and jeweled covers for church use diminished towards the end of the thirteenth century, but later examples were make for royal and noble patrons.


: the joining parts on the sides of a book, between the covers and the spine, where the boards hinge.


: the even and equal spacing of words or blocks to a given measure; also used to give the overall dimensions of the text block.

L. S.

: abbreviation for locus sigilli ("the place of the seal"). Usually printed within a circle at the place for a signature on legal documents.

Lace borders

: lace-like borders occasionally found in nineteenth-century French books as a frame for an illustration. The paper is pieced as in a paper doily.

Lacquered bindings

: fifteenth to nineteenth century Persian, Turkish and Indian bindings decorated with a painted miniature on one or both boards, and without a foldover flap.

Laid down

: a sheet, or fragment, glued to another support, often card, for added strength.

Laid paper

: paper which shows a series of fine parallel lines (wire-marks) or cross lines (chain-marks) when held up to the light. The marks are produced by the wires of the mold in handmade papers or by the weave of the dandy roll in machine-made papers.


: each of the folios formed by a folded sheet of paper or parchment. A leaf consists of two pages, one on each side, either of which may or may not be written or printed on.


: the portion of a breviary containing the lessons, i.e. readings from the Scriptures, lives of saints, and homilies appropriate to each day of the liturgical year.

Livre à vignettes

: books having copperplate vignetted illustrations. They had a great vogue in nineteenth-century France where an edition of Molière, 1734, led the fashion. François Joullain and Laurent Cars etched and engraved the plates by François Boucher.

Livre d'artiste

: also livre de peintre. A book that combines original engravings woodblocks by well-known artists-Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, etc.-with text and that is usually wholly conceived and realized by the painter.


: literally handwritten, the term has come to be used to describe a book written by hand (from the Latin: manum and scriptum).

Maquette binding

: a sample case submitted to the publisher for approval in advance of edition binding.

Marbled paper

Marbled paper

: paper decorated with a variety of colors in an irregular pattern evoking the veins of marbles and used by bookbinders. Marbling results from the transfer to the sheets of paper of colors floating on the surface of a gum solution.


: an independent illustration, as opposed to a scene incorporated into another element of the decorative scheme, such as a border or initial; from the Latin miniare meaning (to color with red).


: a book containing the service for the celebration of the mass throughout the year.


: the precursor of the artists’ handbooks of the fifteenth-century, being books of outline sketches to guide medieval artists in basing their iconography on long established tradition. Model-books were used by sculptors, metal-workers and illuminators of manuscripts. By the later fourteenth-century artists were much less restricted to conventional interpretations when illuminating manuscripts, particularly when working for a lay patrons.

Monnier bindings

: the binding style associated principally with the Frenchman Louis François Monnier (fl. 1737-76) and his son Jean Charles Henri (fl. 1757-80), who in 1757 was binder to the duc d’Orléans. Features of their work were inlaid mosaics of Chinese landscapes, brilliantly colored birds, and allegorical scenes. For the backgrounds they used cream, red and green morocco.


: a leather made from goatskin. Morocco is classed as one of the most durable leathers for bookbinding. It is very firm, yet flexible, and is usually finished on the grain side.


: written 8vo. The book size resulting from folding a sheet of paper with three right-angle folds, to form a signature of eight leaves, or sixteen pages, and giving pages one-eighth the size of the sheet.


: a parchment or other material from which the original writing has been more or less completely erased and new matter writing over. A double palimpsest is one that has had two such erasures.



: deriving its name from Pergamon (Bergama in modern Turkey), an early production center and used instead of paper for writing and illuminating books in the Middle Ages; parchment is a material made from animals (sheep, goat, cow, squirrel, and possibly even cat); vellum is a type of fine parchment made from tender young calves.


: the half of an endpaper which is pasted down to the inner surface of the cover or boards of a book.

Peasant bindings

: a name given to the crudely tooled and painted vellum bindings made in Germany, Holland and Hungary during the seventeenth-century for Bibles and devotional books intended for rural family use. Central panels on the boards were decorated with religious scenes painted directly on the vellum; alternatively, simple colored engravings on paper were pasted on.


: a semi-hand-colored illustration process, similar to a stencil, used in its essentials as long ago as the early fifteenth century to print playing cards and occasionally woodcuts in incunables. The foundation was a monochrome outline of the design printed by letterpress or lithography and colored through multiple stencils with gouache and watercolors.

Presentation copy

: a copy of a book with a presentation inscription, which shows that it was a gift usually from the author, sometimes from the publisher.

Private press

: a small printing house using hand presses or small letter-press machines and producing well printed books in limited editions on hand-made paper. It publishes only the work of the owner, his or her friends and/or of publishing clubs, who may subsidies the publication.


: history of original production and contemporary and later ownership whether of a printed book, a work of art, an illuminated manuscript, or a miniature.


: a book containing the psalms and often the liturgical calendar, biblical canticles, a litany of the saints, and numerous prayers; considered the predecessor of the Book of Hours.


: written 4to. The book size resulting from folding a sheet with two folds at right-angles to form a section of four leaves and thus giving pages one quarter the size of the sheet.


: gatherings or booklets of folded bifolia out of which a book is formed; the most common structure of a quire is the quaternion (four bifolia, or eight folia).


: said of a book having the spine re-covered in a style or material approximating the old.


: the upper side of a leaf of parchment or paper as distinct from the "verso" which is the reverse side; also refers to the right-hand page of an open book having an odd page number.

Red under guilt edges

: book edges which have been sprayed with a red dye before gilding.


: a term descriptive of a book which, after the original case or binding has been removed, is rebound in the covers taken from another book. A remboîtage may be created to place an important text which has been unsuitably rebound in a what appear to be its original covers, or to put what is deemed a more suitable or less damaged text in a valuable binding. Sacramentary.


: a form of border ornament commonly used during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and consisting of fine, foliate branches usually with ivy leaves.


: the word, phrase, or sentence in a printed book or a manuscript that indicates the content of the following text and is highlighted in colored ink (usually red) or with underlining to set it off from the main text.; rubrics are sometimes heavily abbreviated.


: (16mo or sixteenmo), with sixteen leaves per sheet, half the size of the octavo format and one quarter the size of the quarto.


: a type of leather with a rough, granular surface. When used for bookbinding, it is usually prepared from sharkskin.


: the skin of a sheep prepared as a bookbinding material. Such skins were used in England for bookbinding from about 1400; the boards they covered were usually of oak

Shell gold

: matt gold used for the gilding of a manuscript. It is applied with a brush or quill, and when dry is lightly burnished. The name derives from its sometime preparation in mussel shells.


: a folded printed sheet forming one section of a book; sometimes used in manuscripts as a synonym of quire or gathering. Also used to indicate the mark, usually letters or/and numbers, placed on the bottom of the first page of each gathering as a guide to the binder in arranging them in their correct order.


: a silk ribbon secured at the head of a book for use as a page-marker. Signets were frequently used by sixteenth-century French binders and were often enriched with precious stones.


: a box usually open-fronted, sometimes with a soft fabric lining, used to protect a the edges of a book.

Solander case

: a book-shaped box suitable for holding a book, prints, pamphlets, loose plates, or other material. It may open at the side or front with hinges, or have two separate parts, one fitting over the other. It is named after Daniel Charles Solander, an eighteenth-century botanist, who originally devised it for the preservation of botanical specimens.


: the part of the outer cover of a book which protects and encloses the back and is usually lettered with the title, author's and the publisher's name (in a publisher's case).

Swash letters

: italic capitals having top or bottom flourishes or both

Text block

: the body matter of a page as composed in column or paragraph form and differing from display matter, headings, illustrations, or other printed or manuscript material; in manuscript cataloguing used as a synonym for justification.

Thrown clear

: a map, plan, or illustration printed with a blank page-width guard and folded into the book. The whole of the opened map can thus be thrown clear of the page area for easy reference while the relevant text is being read.


: said of any leaf that is pasted into the book by one edge and does not have a conjugate leaf; may be separately printed illustrations, maps, errata slips, miniatures, or even text trimmed to the page size of a book before insertion.


: usually the recto of the second leaf at the beginning of a book giving the title and sub-title, the author's name and his qualifications, the publisher's imprint, and sometimes a colophon and the date of publication. The verso of a title-page often states the edition or impression, printer's name, statement of copyright and occasionally typographical information. The first book to include on its title page the information now customary was printed by Wolgang Stöckel of Leipzig in 1500.


: the impressing by hand of lettering and decoration into a leather or cloth binding with heated tolls or stamps used to apply pigment or metal foil. Blind tooling is done with heated tools but no gold or foil; for gold tooling, gold leaf or spool form is used. When the entire cover design is a single piece, it is called a "stamp."


: used to indicate that the edges have been cut down from their original format, thus reducing the margins, often during subsequent rebinding and most commonly by machine.


: a book is described as being uncut when the edges have not been trimmed or cut by a guillotine or the plough.


: liturgical forms or customs peculiar to a diocese, a monastic complex, or sometimes a group (e.g., use of the Franciscans, Carthusians, Rouen, Rome, etc.), differing slightly from region to region, but never amounting to a rite distinct from that established by the Church.


: the skin of the newly born calf, prepared for writing upon by stretching and polishing with alum. It gives a very smooth, fine parchment.


: a regional, pre-national, language, distinct from Latin, that evolved at different times in different geographic areas in the Middle Ages and was often used in daily life and for non-religious literary creations (poetry, chronicles, romances, etc.).

Votive bindings

: a lavishly decorated binding, usually enclosing a copy of the Gospels, given to a church in return for prayers to be said for the giver’s soul.


: image embedded in the paper left from the impression of the wire paper frame, which contains a unique device or monogram, the latter often identifying the maker and thus the approximate place and date of manufacture of the paper.

White vine-stem

: form of decoration in which white vines left as blank parchment are displayed in the borders usually of humanistic manuscripts; originating in the fifteenth-century Florence, the ornament was thought, wrongly, to imitate ancient manuscript decoration.


: the earliest form of printed illustration in which an impression is taken from an inked form cut in a block of soft wood. The design of a woodcut is of bold black lines or areas depicting a design against a white background (relief) whereas that of wood engraving is the reverse (intaglio); woodcutting is therefore known as a black-line method whereas wood engraving is a white-line method.


Wove paper

: paper which, when held up to the light, is seen to have an even or regular pattern of fine mesh without the chain lines that distinguish laid paper. Jame Whatman was probably the first manufacturer of wove paper, and it was first used by John Baskerville in 1757, when he printed his Virgil on it.


: the process of engraving on wood.