Book and Photographic
This glossary is a collection of terms that I have assembled
over the years to help track commonly used words in describing photographs and books. If you find any mistakes with the definitions, please let me know .
B C D E
F G H I
J K L M N
O P Q R
S T U V
W X Y Z
4to- A book that is up to 12" tall. See Quarto.
8vo - A book that is up to 9 ¾" tall. See Octavo.
12mo - A book that is up to 7 ¾" tall. See Duodecimo.
16mo - A book that is up to 6 ¾" tall. See Sextodecimo.
24mo - A book that is up to 5 ¾" tall.
32mo - A book that is up to 5" tall.
48mo - A book that is up to 4" tall.
64mo - A book that is up to 3" tall.
Folio - A book that is up to 15" tall.
Elephant Folio - A book that is up to 23" tall.
Atlas Folio - A book that is up to 25" tall.
Double Elephant Folio - A book that is up to 50" tall.
- In the US: American Booksellers Association (for independently
owned bookstores with a store front location selling new books).
In the UK: Antiquarian Booksellers Association (the UK equivalent
of the ABAA).
- Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (the US equivalent
of the ABA.)
- Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Canada (Canadian equivalent
of the ABA.)
READING COPY - A special pre-publication issue published
in wrappers. Issued for publicity purposes. Occasionally there
are textual differences between an advance reading copy and a
first edition. Usually in pictorial wraps
similar to the dust jacket art that is to be used on the first
trade edition. Preceded by an advance uncorrected proof copy which
is usually in plain colored wrappers.
process - In the late 1840s albumen came to be used in the preparation
of both negatives and printing paper, in order to increase the
definition. The term comes form 'egg whites.'
PRINT - Prints made on a paper coated with an egg white
and salt solution, then sensitized with silver nitrates.
BOOKSELLER - A term used loosely to describe a dealer
in old, rare, scarce, and collectible books.
NEW (AN) or VERY FINE (VF) or MINT (M): Without faults
or defects, unread, in the same immaculate condition in which
it was published (Note: very few "new" books qualify
for this grade, as many times there will be rubs/scuffs to the
dustjackets from shipping, or bumped lower spine ends/corners
COPY - Books once belonging to the author, signed or
annotated by the author, or someone associated with the author
of book in some way. Book inscribed by author to famous person,
or owned by someone of interest, or someone connected to the book
EDITION - Book authorized by author, usually foreign
editions, around the turn of the last century when many titles
were pirated or "unauthorized".
- A strip used by binder to reinforce the back of folded sheets
in the binding of the spine.
- A list of works, occasionally in great detail, on a given subject
or by a given author.
- A lover of Books.
- Material used as a protective cover for a book (e.g.: leather,
cloth, buckram, paper, etc.)
COPY - A book whose text block is complete and serviceable,
but the current binding is defective, incomplete, or in need of
- An attack to books by living matter, which may include insects
(Stamped or Tooled) - Impressed into paper or binding with no
color, leaving an impression only.
- The front and back covers of a hardcover book.
CLUB EDITION - Editions published by book clubs (i.e.:
The Book-of-the-Month Club, Fireside Book Club, History Book Club,
The Literary Guild, etc).
JACKET - Separate paper covering for the book. Also referred
to as the dust jacket or dustwrapper.
- A small book, often only a few pages long and bound in wrappers.
PLATE - An ownership label, usually placed inside front
cover. Many have become collectible due to the designer or owner;
others actually lower the value of books printed in the last 50
- An organism, sometimes a literal worm, which harms books by
feeding on their binding or leaves. Also a term for a person devoted
or BROADSHEET - Large sheet of paper printed
on one side only.
- A highly involved process that can generate one print or, in
a transfer variation, many copies. Its chief quality is a delicate
painterly/etcherly look. Lithographic in is applied with a special
brush to a gelatinized paper surface that selectively resists
or attracts the ink.
- A heavy weave of binding cloth.
- Usually referring to the corners of a book that has been damaged
by being carelessly banged .
- The covers enclosing a book, usually made of thick cardboard,
or a specially made case for a book.
- Due to errors or defects in printing, a book may have one or
more pages sliced out of the text block after it has been bound.
The new printed matter pasted on to the resulting stub is referred
to as a "cancel" or "cancellans".
- Small, inexpensive books produced from the 17th century until
today, originally sold by "chapmen", peddlers, and hawkers.
BOOK - Fairly modern term referring to books for older
children which are organized into chapters, as opposed to "picture
books", which often are not.
- Small pieces broken off of a dust jacket or binding.
- A process by which a photographic print is made directly from
a color transparency. Noted for rich color, brilliant clarity
and unprecedented archival quality for color prints. Also called
(abbreviated: c ) - Refers to an approximate date when actual
date is unknown.
TEAR - A tear with no material missing.
- Paper is smooth and polished; something has been applied to
the surface to make it appear glossy.
- If, when looking down on the head of a book, the corners are
not square it is said to be cocked or rolled. Also known as a
- To verify completeness of a book by examining it carefully (e.g.:
all illustrative plates are present, no pages are missing, etc).
- Details of the printer's typography, often found on the last
page of a book. Sometimes states the number of copies printed,
and in the case of a limited edition, will cite the copy number
and may contain the signature of the author, illustrator, or publisher.
BINDING - Up until the 19th century, books were published
unbound, with the understanding that the new owner would have
his books bound at his leisure. This term refers to bindings done
the same year or within a few years of the publication of such
- Illustrations produced when the original printing plate was
engraved on copper; this method was introduced before the end
of the 15th century. They replaced the woodcut, which reappeared
PAGE - The page that appears on verso of the title page,
containing the artistic property protection.
VANDYKE - These methods, and others, made from metals
combined with their ferric salts (platinum, palladium, gold, copper,
etc.) can produce infinite monochrome variations with capacity
to convey special moods.
- An early photographic process (invented in 1839) where the impression
made on a light-sensitive silver-coated metal plate is developed
by mercury vapor. Each is an original since no duplication process
- A stain left on a cover or pages that have been exposed to water.
Considered a defect.
EDGE - Uneven and uncut edges, often found on books printed
on hand-made paper and not trimmed by the binder.
- A lace-like pattern applied to the edges of the cover
of the inside border of a book bound in leather.
- A listing of books desired.
- A compound containing the divalent negative ion, Cr2O7, usually
having a characteristic orange-red color. Also called bichromate.
- An indentation, such as on a golf ball, on covers or pages.
Considered a defect, if not part of decorated covers.
- A small bump or dent leaving an impression, sometimes caused
by careless handling or storage.
- Worn or ragged, usually referring to the edges of pages and
binding. Corners of pages turned down like a dog's ear. Considered
JACKET or DUSTWRAPPER or dw
- The separate paper covering for a book. While originally intended
for protection, these have become an important part of modern
books, often including information about a book not found elsewhere.
(12mo) - A book approximately seven to eight inches tall.
- A method of making color prints or transparencies that give
the maximum control of color, balance and contrast. One of the
most permanent color photographic processes.
- The three outer sides of the text block when book is closed:
fore edge, top edge or head, and bottom edge or foot.
- All of the copies of a book printed at the same time from the
same setting of type.
- The double leaves added to the book by the binder that become
the pastedowns and free endpapers inside the front and rear covers.
These pages are an integral part of the binding of a book, holding
the text block and case together. The lack of them drastically
shortens the value and life of a book.
- Those bits of throwaway paper of every day life (e.g.: advertising,
ticket stubs, programs, some booklets and pamphlets, etc.)
- A list of errors and their corrections or additions to the printing,
found after book has been printed, usually on separate sheet or
slip of paper. The plural of erratum.
- Deaccessioned from a public libraries collection.
- Usually found on bookplate referring to "from the books"
of John Doe, etc. From a private library, as opposed to a public
library. Could also be a stamp.
- Extra illustrations added to the book after publication.
- A book that is very worn, but all of it's important parts, and
dust jacket, must be present. May be soiled with tears, endpapers
missing, etc. Such defects must be noted in descriptions.
(F) - A book that has no defects in book or jacket, but not as
crisp as it was when new.
EDITION - The first printing of a book, done from the
original setting of type. The collectibility of the first edition
was established in the early days of printing, when the lead type
used in the presses would quickly wear away, compromising the
readability of the book being printed.
BINDING - Limp, leather/plastic covers which are flexible.
- Plain papers at front and rear of book after endpapers.
- 1. The book size resulting from folding a sheet one time, giving
leaves half the size of the sheet. In modern practice double-size
paper folded twice, or quad-size paper folded three times would
be used, thus producing the requisite folio size but in sections
convenient for binding. Abbreviated Fo. or fo. 2. A leaf of parchment
or paper numbered only on the recto side. 3. Loosely, the number
of a page. 4. An individual leaf of a book.
to size: 13 inches or larger
- The bottom edge of the text block.
FORE EDGE - The right edge opposite the spine.
EDGE PAINTING - A painting on gilded fore edge, which
can only be seen by fanning pages. Popular in the 15th and 16th
centuries, and occasionally still being done today.
- The brown age spots thought to be caused by impurities in paper(e.g.:
acid, exposure to humidity, etc.)
ENDPAPER - Front and rear blank pages added by the binder.
- The illustration facing title page.
- An illustration, map, or other leaf larger in one dimension
than the other leaves of the publication and which consequently
must be folded, usually at the fore edge or head, to make it the
same size as the other leaves.
- The printed sheets, after folding, which are put in order and
bound in sequence. Also known as a signature.
EDGES - A pattern tooled on gilt edges of book.
EDGES - Page edges cut smooth and gilded (covered with
a thin layer of gold leaf).
GICLÉE - a technology for fine art or photograph reproduction using a high-quality inkjet printer to make individual copies.
- Transparent paper sometimes used as a dust jacket to protect
- A book, or dust jacket in average used and worn condition -
complete with all its parts. Note all defects in descriptions.
- Guidelines used to properly describe condition of books.
- Method of printing using metal cylinders etched with millions
of tiny wells that hold ink.
- Introduced in in 1894, popular into the 1920's and occasionally
used today. Often called "gum." A gum bichromate print
was made by brushing onto a sheet of paper a smooth coating of
gum arabic (a transparent plant secretion) dissolved in water
and mixed with a pigment and a solution of potassium (or ammonia)
- A recently discovered process which has the look and feel of
some of the ancient processes. In combination with unpigmented
gum, etching bleach and oil pigments, it is possible to build
monochrome or polychromatic images.
- Inner margins of two facing pages. Can also refer to the outer
indentation that is created by the joining of the boards and spine.
BINDING - Leather spine and corners. Leather extends
about 1/3rd to 1/4th of the way to the edge.
CLOTH - Cloth spine and paper covered sides.
(fly title) - The page, preceding the title page proper, listing
only the title of the book and no other information. While always
present in modern books, it is sometimes lacking in older publications
because it was originally designed to be removed before custom
- A gradation of tone (between light and dark) of an image by
minute, closely spaced dots. Used in photography and graphics.
- A book whose case is made of stiff boards, as opposed to
- Top edge of the text block.
- Band of silk or cotton affixed to signatures when bound for
strength or, more often, decoration of the spine.
- Where the sides of the binding meet the spine. Can be referred
to as inner hinges and outer hinges or joints.
COPY - When a number of copies of an edition of a book
are compared to each other, a bibliographer may set out what he
or she considers to be the description of the standard copy of
that edition, to which all other copies can be compared. Thus,
when a book is said to be "missing a page", it is assumed
that the ideal copy of that book always contains that particular
- International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. Includes 20
national associations representing 30 countries.
- All the copies of a book printed during one press run. During
the handpress period, when type was reset each time a press was
used, this term was synonymous with edition.
- The earliest printed books of a genre, often used exclusively
to mean those printed before 1501. Coined from the Latin word
cunae, meaning "cradle".
- Signed by the author or someone associated with book, but with
more wording than simply a signature.
- Independent Online Booksellers Association.
- A change, textual or otherwise, made after the book has been
- Refers to outer hinge where spine joins the sides of the book.
Sometimes referred to as the "gutter".
IN - Paper/photograph/print is laid in (not glued down).
ON - See tipped in.
- The thin plastic layer covering the dust jacket of some books.
EDITION - Small number of copies of book published. Books
are usually numbered such as "100/500" meaning number
100 of an edition of 500.
- When a book has been read carelessly or too often, and has become
loose and sloppy in its binding.
- The original pages of an author's work, written in the author's
hand or typed.
- A process of decorating paper, in which the result resembles
the veins of stone marble.
- Two related items brought together, though not initially sold
as a unit, for the purpose of making the set complete as published
(i.e.: a book and dust jacket, or two volumes in a set).
- The cloth which reinforces the hinges and is pasted directly
to the body of a book and is hidden by the spine.
FINE: Also used, although not contained in Bookman's Weekly
definitions, meaning a book or dustjacket approaching FINE
but with a couple of very minor defects or faults.
- The front or main surface of anything.
(8vo) - A book of about five inches wide and eight inches tall
to about six by nine inches. Octavo is the most common size for
current hardcover books. To make octavo books, each sheet of paper
is folded to make eight leaves (16 pages).
TEAR - A tear which may have some material missing.
- A book no longer available from the publisher. It is no longer
being printed and no copies remain available for sale.
- An image printed on glass then backed in gold; also called gold-tone
or curt-tone. It is often found in ornate, molded or gilded frames.
INSCRIPTION - Words written by previous or original owner
of book. Also known as previous owner's inscription.
- The numbering of the pages.
- Refers to borders in binding. Can also be used in connection
with the main surfaces of a dust jacket.
- A book bound with flexible paper covers; usually a term reserved
for mass-market publications.
COVERS (also PAPER-COVERED BOARDS) - Describes a book
not bound in stiff paper covers. Can refer to a temporary binding,
a booklet or pamphlet, or a book in early (1800s) wrappers.
- The skin of a sheep, goat, etc., prepared as a surface for writing
or for use as a binding material.
ENDPAPER - The part of the endpapers that is pasted to
the inside of the front and rear covers.
that imitates painting: a style of photography, popular at the
turn of the 20th century, using soft-focus techniques to imitate
- A group who became known as pictorialists sought to distinguish
their artistic efforts from the snapshots taken by masses of so-called
Kodakers. Pictorialists favored specialized (and difficult)
darkroom techniques that gave them more control over their results.
In contrast to snapshots of the time, the compositions of the
pictorialists favored simplicity, with broad areas of extreme
darks and lights. Most of the pictorialists favored subject matter
made popular by impressionist painters: hazy landscapes, nudes,
and groups of children gamboling in nature.
An old, but currently popular way of taking pictures using a simple
box without a lens, but with a tiny hole and a sheet of film pinned
inside opposite the hole. Produces unique perspective and dreamy
- A special page containing an illustration or other extra information;
often printed on glossy paper.
A print in which the final image is formed in platinum or palladium.
Both these processes are extremely permanent and have delicate rich
tones and ranges of greys that are unattainable in silver
Also known as heliogravure. An intaglio process in which the image
has been placed on the plate by photographic means using carbon
tissues. See also gravure
- Peculiarities in a published book whose presence or absence
helps to determine edition, issue, or state.
or READING COPY: A book that is sufficiently
worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible.
Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. May be soiled,
scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges,
COPY - A book inscribed by the author to someone else
of importance to the author, the book, or society in general.
CLIPPED - The price on the inner flap of a dust jacket
has been cut off.
- See uncorrected proof.
- Evidence of the history of the ownership of a particular book
(e.g.: auctions records, booksellers' records, book plates, etc.)
The book may be important because of who owned it; perhaps a president
or important bookseller, collector, royalty, or someone who may
be related to the book in some way. Important in establishing
the ownership of especially rare items.
DE PLUME - An assumed name used to protect the anonymity
of an author.
BINDING - Binding provided by the publisher when supplying
a book for a bookseller. This practice, while common today, dates
from the 1800s.
BINDING - A book with its spine bound in a different
material than the boards (i.e.: a leather spine and cloth- or
(4to) - A book between octavo and folio in size; approximately
11 to 13 inches tall. To make a quarto, a sheet of paper is folded
twice, forming four leaves (eight pages).
CREASE - A crease down the spine of a book (usually a
paperback); considered a defect.
COPY - See POOR
- A repair, where the original spine or backstrip has been removed,
the spine replaced, and the original reglued on top. Can be considered
a defect, but more valuable than not having any of the original
- A repair, where the entire binding has been replaced by a new
- A repair, where a book is taken apart and put back together
using original pages, cloth, and endpapers. Usually done to tighten
the sewing or to wash the pages, etc.
- A right-hand page, when a book is open and facing the reader.
- A new book returned to the publisher as unsold, then re-marketed
at a much lower price.
MARK - A mark (rubber stamp, felt marker stroke, or spray,
often on a book's bottom edge) signifying that the book was returned
to publisher as unsold, and then sold at a much lower price. Considered
to be a defect.
COPY - A copy of new book sent free-of-charge for purposes
of review. Often includes a laid in review slip with publishing
information; not necessarily a first edition.
- Where color has been worn from portions of the binding or dust
- The text block is loose in its binding; no longer tight, but
- The pages which have been printed but not yet folded, sewn,
or gathered together for binding.
- The spine of a book.
(16mo) - A small book, approximately four inches wide and six
inches tall. To make it, each sheet of paper is folded four times,
forming sixteen leaves (32 pages).
- A printed sheet of paper, folded to size and ready for sewing
(i.e.: large paper folded in half, fourths, eighths, sixteenths,
- Signed with a name only, and no other text included.
PRINT - A generic term referring to all photographic
prints made on paper coated with silver salts. Most contemporary
black-and-white photographs are silver prints.
- A box built to house and protect a book, leaving the spine exposed.
- Books that have had repairs that involve making additions to
the original (e.g.: chips filled in and tinted to match the missing
portion, replaced page corners, etc.)
- The backbone, or back, of the book where the title (if present)
is displayed when it is standing upright on a shelf.
- Hinges or joints beginning to show signs of becoming loose,
either through wear or defective binding. considered a defect.
- Variations within an edition, which are made prior to publication;
due to stop-press insertions, damaged type, etc.
addition of errata leaves, advertisements.
changes affecting page lay-out.
applies only in connection with the printed pages, and not variations
DAMAGE - A price sticker has been roughly removed resulting
in surface damage to the underlying material.
GHOST - Sticker has been left on book for some time,
and the glue, reacting chemically, has discolored the surface.
EDGE - Color sprayed on a book's external edges.
- Browning, yellowing, or fading of paper or binding as a result
of sun exposure.
- Bottom edge of the text block.
RESIDUE - Complications of cellophane tape which remains
on the paper or a book's cover, resulting in brown stains or bits
of tape adhering to paper. Considered a defect.
- When the binding is loosening.
BLOCK - Pages containing the content of a book (text,
illustrations, etc.) bound together; does not include endpapers.
IN - Paper, photograph, or print glued down by only a
PAGE - The page which gives important information about
the book (i.e.: title, author, publisher, date, etc.)
- The decoration of leather bindings.
STAIN - The publisher's decorative colored stain, applied
to the top page edges.
PAPERBACK - When the cloth-bound trade edition is issued
by the same publisher, sometimes simultaneously, but bound in
wrappers. Because the same sheets are used,
such issues are often quite larger than paperbacks published for
EDITION - An edition sold through bookstores, as opposed
to those meant for private or specialized distribution.
PROOF - A pre-publication printing intended for editorial
use, or occasionally to be sent out for review. Usually issued
in plain colored wrappers.
- Edges which are rough-cut, rather than being neatly trimmed
by the binders.
- When folded edges of the pages of the bound text block remain
joined together and have not been sliced open. Unread.
PRESS/PUBLISHERS - Publishers and presses that publish
books at the author's own expense.
- A copy of a book that varies in some way from the ideal copy.
Can refer to binding color, illustrations, etc.
- A thin sheet of specially prepared leather used for writing,
printing, or as a binding material; considered superior in quality
- The left page of an open book, when it is open and facing the
reader. The back of a leaf. Also called the reverse.
GOOD - Very light wear to book, and/or jacket; no large
tears, or major defects; One of the most often used terms.
- A photograph printed within a very few years of the date when
the negative was made.
- A faint identifying design, usually in quality paper.
- To sew a book's leaves by passing the thread over and over the
spine; often seen in early pamphlets.
- Illustrations produced when the original printing plate was
engraved on a block of wood. One of the oldest methods of printing,
dating back to 8th century China.
or WRAPS - The printed or unprinted cover of
a pamphlet or book bound in paper.
Wednesday, June 28, 2019
2019 Philip Malkin