What does 'format' mean?

Terms historically used to measure the number of times each sheet in a given book has been folded are also commonly used to describe the size of a given book in general terms. 

Our considerations here are guidelines to let you know roughly what to expect, and we can provide precise dimensions for any book upon request.



Shorthand for "duodecimo" or "twelvemo" this usually indicates a small book.


Shorthand for "octavo", this indicates a book of moderate size, that you might be able to read standing or expect to find on a bookshelf in the high street. 


Shorthand for "quarto" these books are usually a little larger than usual, of the kind you might find on a coffee table or a bottom shelf. 


These books are usually larger than most and sometimes heavy. They may or may not be filled with wisdom.


What does 'condition' mean?

You'll often see us using these terms when describing our books, in addition to any other notes.



A 'fine' copy of a book will have almost no flaws, and will be an exceptional copy of the book in question. Many interpret this to mean "as new", which is often true, particularly of books produced more recently. 

Very Good.

A very good copy will be largely superior to other copies of the same age, with few visible flaws. Most books we sell are in this bracket. 


A good copy is a book which shows light to moderate signs of repair or damage relative to its age. A book in Good condition may display marks of repair, but all such considerations will be noted in the description. A book in Good condition will always be complete.


Fair/Reading copy.

A Reading Copy is a euphemism for a book that is suitable for reading only. That is to say, it’s condition is poor in some way. We don’t stock many books in this condition, unless it is of exceptional merit in another regard.



A to Z of Terms



"No Date" indicates no date of publication is given inside the book. [If we give a date in square brackets, that means that we’ve tracked down the correct date for you, which may be approximate].



All edges gilt. [We may also use t.e.g, or ‘top edge gilt’].



An abbreviation for “Autograph Letter Signed”



When we use the term ‘association’ we usually mean that the book was owned by, and sometimes signed/annotated by someone noteworthy. This could be the author, an unrelated celebrity, the Gruffalo, or anyone we think you might find interesting - we will go into further detail in our description.



If we say something is stamped or marked "in blind" we mean that it has been impressed into the surface without adding colour.



A bookplate is a label, usually marked with a name, coat of arms or an illustration, usually found attached to the front inside cover. Bookplates often help to determine the provenance of a book by identifying a previous owner.



"Browning" is how we indicate a mild (often uniform) darkening of paper, which can vary from faint to prominent depending on the quality of the original paper stock. This kind of deterioration is not uncommon in older books.


A small note at the end of a book, often containing information such as the printer, place of printing, date etc. Not to be confused with Bellerophon, who rides a Pegasus.



he first and last 'pages' in the book, one of each is attached to the inside covers. You often find past ownership marks here.



A form of producing illustrations. Most mass-produced antiquarian illustrations are from engravings on wood or metal. There are many methods of engraving, which produce different results.



A reproduction, sometimes modern. A facsimile manuscript, for instance, is not an original. Many facsimiles are painstaking reproductions of original artwork or signatures, and where they are present we will note them to avoid confusion with originals.


Front free endpaper.



The pages or wrapper of a book with foxing have developed brown spots from age. We call this 'foxing'. Foxing is often faint and is usually a symptom of poor original paper stock as well as storage conditions. Nothing to do with the bushy-tailed yipping red variety.



A preliminary illustration, usually facing the title page of the book.



[ie. Gilded.] We use this term whenever gold leaf has been used to decorate a book, usually as a design stamped into covers, as lettering on the spine or as decoration on the page edges.



A gathering is a group of leaves/pages formed after the folding of the larger sheet, before the binding process. A book is usually comprised of many gatherings sewn together.



The top of a book.


Original (colour) cloth.

When we use 'original' in this context, and we do often, we are indicating that the cloth covers of the book have not to our knowledge been replaced or rebound.



Above and beyond any usual considerations of size (see FORMAT), a miniature book usually fits easily in the palm of your hand, sometimes becoming as small as a fingernail.



A hard-wearing leather made from goatskin, usually dyed in a strong colour.


Past Owner Inscription.

Someone has written their name, and possibly the date in this book, usually in ink. Some collectors find this adds a human touch, and others would prefer it not to be present. We’ll leave that decision up to you.



If we say a dustwrapper is price-clipped, we mean that someone in the past has snipped the price off the jacket, which was once very common when giving a book as a gift.



The covers of this book have been replaced, either by a past owner for aesthetic reasons, or due to the deterioration of the original covers.



In some instances a book has become loose over time, had to be glued back into its covers. We call this re-casing.



A kind of sheepskin used in binding, often in lieu of Morocco. Hard to find in good condition.


When we use this term, we're letting you know that the book has undergone a little general wear due to consistent use. A little rubbing is usually nothing to be worried about, and most frequently applies to corners.


Tail [i.e. Foot].

The bottom of a book.


Tipped in.

This phrase indicates that something has been attached into the book, usually by one edge. Sometimes this is done in production (such as a publisher's advertisement), and sometimes is a later addition. It can also be used to describe something which has been tucked in, without being attached to a page. In most cases, this has been added by a previous owner.



Specially treated calfskin usually with a cream/white colour, often used to bind books, and sometimes used to print or write on. Distinct from parchment, which can be skin from a different animal.