|terms of the trade by Roger Gaskell, ABA, ILAB.
A large part of the trade in antiquarian books is conducted by catalogues, whether printed or on-line, and books offered in shops or at bookfairs will usually be accompanied by a written description. The requirement to provide some sort of description is implicit in clause 1a. Description and disclosure or the ABA's Code of Good Practice which states that members are responsible for the accurate identification and description of books offered for sale. Cataloguing styles vary considerably, but all catalogue descriptions will contain some or all of the following elements, not necessarily in this order:
These elements are described below, together with an explanation of some of the terms that may be found in each part of the description.
Authors are identified wherever possible and forenames supplied if necessary; names which do not appear on the title-page are given in brackets, round if the name is elsewhere in the book (for example at the end of the preface), square if they are supplied from secondary sources [that is if the book is published anonymously]. Square brackets are also used if the book (e.g. an association copy) is catalogued under a different name than that of the author. In modern library cataloguing, author's dates are given, and this is helpful in booksellers cataloguing too, especially as it suggests that the author has been positively identified, not just transcribed from the title-page.
Unlike the title of the book, the imprint need not be transcribed verbatim but may be translated and expanded or contracted to bring out, where it can be determined, the separate roles of the publisher and printer. For books in English the imprint may be in the form Printed by [printer] for [publisher] which needs little explanation, but Latin titles use a range of quite involved formulae which a cataloguer may want to translate, and Latinised place names can be confusing and should be modernised, for example Lugduni is Lyon, but Lugduni Batavorum Leiden, and Cantabrigiae is not Canterbury. Imprints are often given in italics and printed separately from the title, which emphasises their different treatment.
IMPRINT The information, most often printed at the foot of the title-page, giving the place of publication, the name of the printer and or publisher, and the date of printing; the printer's name may be given in a separate imprint elsewhere in the book, for example on the verso of the title or at the end of the text.
The edition statement is the bibliographical description of the position the book holds in the publishing history of the text. Publishers have been known to lie about this, often calling a re-issue a second edition, even going so far as to say that it is revised and enlarged when it is not. The edition statement in a catalogue tells the true story, and is not just copied from the title-page, unless placed in inverted commas and qualified by the cataloguer, e.g. " second (but actually fourth) edition".
EDITION In bibliographical terms, an edition comprises all the copies of a book printed from substantially the same setting of type. Impressions and issues are then subsets of the edition. This is the sense in which edition is used in the edition statement. However, from a textual point of view, edition can mean the result of an editors work on the text (Johnsons edition of Shakespeare). The term recension is used in this sense for classical texts.
EXTRACT An article in a journal physically separated from the issue or volume after publication. Extracts should be avoided by collectors, not only because this is a form of breaking which should not be practised, but also because it encourages theft from volumes often housed on open shelves in libraries.
FIRST EDITION Used without qualification first edition always means the first appearance of a text in print. Any qualification, as to impression, issue (see re-issue), or any number of other designations such as trade, published, book-form, separate, mean it is not (or not certainly) the first edition in the simple sense - or there may be two or more states which have equal claim to be the first edition.
RE-ISSUE The copies of an edition put on sale at a later period than the first publication, identified by a replacement title-page, or a different binding. Bibliographically changes to the title-page or the text made during printing are variant states of those leaves, but by convention copies of books varying only in the imprint on the titlepage are distinguished in the booktrade (and many bibliographies) as different issues.
REPRINT A later edition printed from a new setting of type, with only minor corrections; a new impression from the original type or plates with only minor corrections; or a photographic or digital reproduction of an earlier edition. Also an American English usage for offprint.
STATE A variant form of a printed page resulting from an alteration made to the type during the printing process - alterations made later are issues (see re-issue). Although it may be possible to determine priority between two states of a printed sheet, this is not necessarily reflected in any priority of distribution. Indeed a single copy may contain first states of some leaves and later states of others.
This will always include the number of volumes, the format, a statement of pagination and an enumeration of any plates or other inserted leaves. The presence or absence of half-titles and advertisements which were often discarded by binders should always be noted. Some books may not require any more than this, while others, particularly early books, may be more fully described, with the leaf size, a collational formula, the number of lines per page, the typefaces used, woodcut initials and other decorative features, the watermarks in the paper, an enumeration of the contents and a detailed account of all the plates, etc.
CANCELS, CANCELLAND, CANCELLANDUM Cancels are replacement leaves correcting printers' errors, or reflecting an authors revisions. The original (integral) leaf is the cancelland, the new leaf is the cancel or cancellans.
CHAIN LINES The widely spaced lines visible in laid-paper when it is held up to the light. Because the chain lines are vertical in the whole sheet (looking at it with the long side horizontal), they provide a check on the format and will normally be vertical in a folio, horizontal in a quarto, and vertical in an octavo book.
COLLATE To examine the leaves of a book and verify its completeness in text and illustration by comparison with a published description, as in the expression collated and complete (or perfect). Booksellers will sometimes pencil c & c or c & p with their initials on the endpapers of a book they have examined. All books of any age or value should be checked in this way, verification being provided by published bibliographies, pagination statements in library catalogues, comparison with other copies which may be assumed to be complete, or internal evidence. The authority for the collation should always be given by citing the bibliography or catalogue or the copy used for comparison. In the last case, internal evidence, the book should be described as apparently complete, and although this is not always stated it may be infered from a lack of adequate bibliographical references.
COLLATION, COLLATIONAL FORMULA, FORMULA The collation of a book is a bibliographical description of its construction and contents in a standardised notation. A simple collation might be 8vo: a4 B-L8, 84 leaves, pp. viii 160. Plates 1-3. This would describe an octavo book of 84 leaves, four preliminary leaves printed on a half-sheet with the signature a and paginated in roman numerals, 80 text leaves printed on 10 sheets with signatures B-L (printers use the 23 letter Latin alphabet omitting i or j, v or u, and w) paginated in arabic numerals, and three plates numbered 1-3. The collational formula (a4 B-L8 in the above example) also provides a system of reference to the parts of a book. Thus B8 refers to the whole of gathering B; B4 is the fourth leaf of the gathering; and B4r is the recto of leaf B4, in this case p. 7. The formulary can become alarmingly complex; Gaskell provides a quick introduction, but the real bible is Fredson Bowers Principles of bibliographical description (1949).
ENGRAVING A general term covering all illustration or other decorative material printed from intaglio (incised) plates; a number of different methods of engraving are employed, often used in combination on a single plate, the chief ones being line engraving (also just called engraving), stipple-engraving, etching, soft-ground etching, aquatint and mezzotint. The plate is usually of copper, but in the nineteenth centurn very fine engraving was also done on steel plates (the result is called a steel-engraving).
ERRATA LEAF Errata can be printed at various points in the text of a book, for example at the end of the preface, or they may be on a leaf on which nothing else is printed. Such errata leaves can be integral or inserted leaves.
FORMAT The format of a book, folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimo etc. (fo. or 20, 4to, 8vo, 12mo) indicates the folding of the printed sheet, the number giving the number of leaves produced from each sheet. One fold gives two leaves and the format is folio; two folds gives four leaves and the format is quarto, and so on (the folding and gathering can however be more complex than this). Because the sheet used was a squarish oblong, a folio is tall and narrow, a quarto squarish, and octavo and duodecimo tall again. Obviously if the original sheet were always the same size and the bound book was not trimmed (see under CONDITION OF CONTENTS) in binding, the format would give the dimensions of the book, the folio being half the dimensions of the sheet, quarto a quarter and so on. But in fact a range of different sized sheets was available to printers, and these sizes varied from place to place and at different periods (generally paper sizes increased over time). Nonetheless format is often loosely equated with size, but even when format is qualified by large or small or the name of a standard paper size such royal, it is still of little help in determining the actual dimensions of a book, for which see size.
FRONTISPIECE A frontispiece may be integral but is more likely to be inserted; and it may or may not be included in the publishers pagination or numeration of the plates; also, library cataloguers handle frontispieces in different ways, sometimes including them in the pagination statement as un-numbered pages, and sometimes not, in addition to mentioning them again in a note. These factors are potential pitfalls in reading collations to determine the true number of preliminary leaves if the situation is not spelled out by the cataloguer.
GATHERING, QUIRE The arrangement of leaves in a bound book, a group of leaves folded together and sewn through the fold. In printed books a gathering is usually formed from a single sheet, so that an octavo book for example will be gathered in fours, four nested pairs of conjugate leaves. For this reason gathering and quire are often used in the sense of signature or section. But folios, especially early ones, were often gathered in fours, sixes or more, as were manuscript books, even though the basic unit was a bi-folium.
HALF-TITLE Half-titles, placed before the full title and giving an abreviated form of the title, are almost invariably integral leaves, but since they were often discarded by book-binders, particularly in the case of English books of the C18 and C19, their absence is not always considered a serious defect in bound copies, though it should be noted. However copies in original boards or publishers cloth (see under BINDING) should certainly be considered imperfect if half-titles are lacking. The same may be said for integral advertisement leaves.
IDEAL COPY An imaginary standard constructed by bibliographers against which real copies can be compared; it is supposed to represent the final intention of the publisher at the time of printing. The first copies of a book distributed might not contain a frontispiece, for example, but it may be included in the make up of the ideal copy.
IMPRIMATUR The licence to publish a book, often printed on a separate imprimatur leaf or licence leaf; in France the licence took the form of an Approbation and Privilège, often printed on different leaves.
INSERTED LEAVES An inserted leaf (or section) is printed separately from the main text and bound or pasted in at the time of binding or later. Such material may be constant in all copies, or variable, for example in the case of inserted advertisements. Inserted is also used for material added subsequent to publication, and though the word order is usually changed (as in portrait inserted) confusion can arise as to whether an original part of the book is being described, or something extraneous. It is best to reserve inserted without qualification for material added by the publisher and describe later additions as, for example, inserted by a later owner.
LAID PAPER Hand-made paper made on a mould constructed of widely spaced vertical rods and much more narrowly spaced wires, producing the chain lines and wire lines visible in the paper when it is held up to the light; machine-made paper watermarked with chain and wire lines to imitate mould-made paper is also marketed as laid-paper.
LITHOGRAPH Printing process used for illustrations (or other material such as music), usually on inserted plates; tinted lithographs are printed with one or more flat tints overlaid on the main image printed in black; chromolithographs are printed in colours.
PLATES Inserted leaves of illustrative material printed independently from the text. Generally they are engravings (intaglio printing) or lithographs (planographic printing), since these processes require a different kind of press from letterpress printing. The leaves thus inserted are generally not included in the pagination, and certainly not in the register. An illustration printed on the same folded sheets as the letterpress is a full-page illustration (or engraving etc.), or if it does not take up the whole page an engraving (lithograph etc.) printed in the text (or on p. xx). Woodcuts and wood-engravings can be printed with the letterpress or on plates.
PRELIMINARY LEAVES or PRELIMS Everything preceding the main text, including, for example, half-title, title, preface, dedication, table of contents. A bibliographically significant point is that the prelims are most often set and printed after the text.
PRESS FIGURES Numerals inserted at the foot of the page by the pressman and used to calculate his wages: a peculiarity of English books. Not to be confused with press-mark another term for a library shelf-mark.
SECTION, SIGNATURE. The leaves formed from a single sheet after it has been folded. Thus a single gathering of a quarto book consists of four leaves in two nesting conjugate pairs. Cf. gathering, quire.
SIGNATURE The letter (or number or other symbol) printed at the foot of the first page (or pages) of a section to identify the printed sheet as an aid to the binder. The gathering is said to be signed with this letter. Also used to describe the folded sheet, in the same sense as section.
SIZE Where the size of a book is given, it is the leaf that is measured, not the binding, stated as height x width (from the fold to the fore-edge). As noted under format, copies of the same book will vary in size according to how much they have been trimmed in binding. For this reason, it is always desirable to know the dimensions of a hand-bound book (as opposed to a book in a publishers binding, see under BINDING). Experienced booksellers may be able to describe a tall copy or a large copy', or one with good margins, but it is always better to be able to substantiate such claims.
STEREOTYPE A cast made from set type from which an impression of a book can be printed; larger editions could thus be produced, or the plates stored and re-printed at a later date, or simultaneous stereotype editions printed on either side of the Atlantic.
The minimum binding description will note whether the binding is original (that is the publishers binding), or if not give an approximate date; the binding material used; and its condition. It is important to emphasise that the endpapers are part of the binding and need to be described with it, particularly if a book has been rebacked and the original endpapers discarded, a deplorable if traditional practice inexcusably still current among some binders.
ENDPAPERS, ENDLEAVES The blank leaves supplied by the binder at the front and back of the book; in a common type of endpaper a folded leaf is inserted, one side pasted to the board as the pastedown endpaper (or just pastedown), the other left free as the free endpaper; in other methods of binding construction, the endpaper may be sewn to the first and last sections, and there may be two or more free endpapers.
HALF, QUARTER BOUND Two or more binding materials are used, of which the more durable or expensive only covers the spine and corners (half morocco, calf etc.) or just the spine (quarter morocco etc.).
PAMPHLET A book which is too thin to have generally merited a separate binding, often issued stab-sewn, with or without plain or printed wrappers (but occasionally bound on its own for presentation). Several pamphlets on related subjects were often bound together, giving evidence of the intellectual interests of the owner. Pamphlet volumes have been dismembered by dealers and the resulting single items offered disbound or in modern wrappers. This is a form of breaking which should no longer be practised and disbound and re-bound pamphlets should be avoided by the collector.
It is highly desirable to give details of a books provenance so far as can be established from bookplates, signatures, library stamps and so on. The prior ownership or use of a book is always of interest. If it was in a provincial public library, that might tell us who read it; or it may be known that a particular collection was acquired by that library; and the name of a former owner, though unknown to the cataloguer may mean something to a researcher or collector. Furthermore erasing library markings, or otherwise concealing a books origins, raises questions of title; recording provenance helps combat theft.
Booksellers love citing references, it makes them look scholarly, but a little restraint may be more scholarly still. References are used in the following circumstances: 1. bibliographical references: to bibliographies or bibliographical catalogues for purposes of comparison with an ideal copy (see under PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION); 2. booklists which cover the author or subject of the book being offered; 3. as footnotes to the NOTE. The first kind of reference, to a bibliographical source, establishes that the book has been collated and agrees with the authority or authorities cited. The second demonstrates that the book really does relate to the author or subject claimed because it is listed in a standard handlist for that author or subject. Hence to say that a book is not in a named bibliography or handlist implies that the book would be expected to have been included, the implication being that it is so rare as to have been unobtainable or overlooked by the compiler. A not in statement for a book clearly out of scope for the cited authority is a sure sign of an incompetent bookseller.
The note may be a few words or a scholarly essay. It may draw attention to a notable feature - good or bad - of the copy in hand; explain the importance of the text or illustrations; give its historical context or even a brief history of the genre or subject of the book; provide biographical information on the author; give a publishing history of the text; technical details of the book's make up in greater detail than was provided in the physical description.