customer guide and help pages

Order with confidence from Ken Spelman, here's what our customers say.

If you are a new customer, or new collector, this page may answer some of your questions
regarding our catalogue entries, and how to order books from our site.

If you have any queries which are not covered below, then please contact us.

who are Ken Spelman?
searching and browsing
how to read a catalogue entry
terms of the trade
book dimensions
binding styles
placing an order
methods of payment
postage, packing and shipping
returns & refunds

who are Ken Spelman Rare Books?

Ken Spelman Books Ltd, (Tony Fothergill), 70 Micklegate, York YO1 6LF, England.
Telephone: +44 1904 624414

Ken Spelman Booksellers was established in York in 1948. The site had been a bookshop at the beginning of the century and was formerly owned by Edwin Storey. It now occupies all four floors of this elegant building. The ground and first floors containing our large stock of out of print books, high quality publisher's remainders, and gallery area displaying early English water-colours. There are also two rare book rooms, and at the top of the building a book bindery. Peter Miller worked with Ken Spelman from 1968-1972, and took over the business on his retirement in 1972. I joined the business in 1979, and Peter and I ran the business in partnership from 1984. In July 2012, I took over the business on Peter's retirement, but he still acts as a consultant.

Ken Spelman is a long term member of all the major book trade associations; The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, The Antiquarian Booksellers Association, and The Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association. Peter Miller is a past president of the PBFA and the ABA., and I am on the ABA Council, and co-run the York National Book Fair.

For more photographs of our shop please visit An Introduction to Ken Spelmans


searching & browsing

At present there are two ways of searching and browsing our stock.

The quickest method is to use our Book Search Facility which will almost instantly display any books which match your keyword, author, title, date of publication &c search. You can also Browse our Books by price-range, publication date-range, or by subject.


how to read a catalogue entry

All our books are fully collated, and guaranteed complete unless otherwise stated. Wherever possible we attempt to offer books in as near to original condition as possible, and all restoration binding and repairs are done to the highest standard by professional experts. Notwithstanding this all significant defects, repairs, and refurbishments are clearly recorded in our catalogue entries

Some cataloguing terms may be unfamiliar to customers and the following are a few of the more commonly used phrases to be encountered.


book dimensions:

The final line in the main catalogue entry contains information on the size, date, and printer or publisher of the book. T"The format of a book, folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimo &c indicates the folding of the printed sheet, the number (2o 4to, 8vo, 12mo) indicating the number of leaves produced from each sheet." Book sizes have numerous gradations within each format, but are normally stated to be one of the following:

folio: The largest size, on average around 16" x 10" and rather tall and narrow in format.

4to or quarto: A squarer shape, c 10" x 8"

8vo or octavo: The most common size associated with books, and approximating the modern hardback book at c 8" x 5"

12mo, 16mo, 32mo: Progressively smaller, pocket size books, ranging from c 6" x 3.5" downwards.


binding styles

Contemporary: a contemporary binding refers to one produced at the time of the original publication of the book, NOT contemporary to the present date. "It is bound close to the time of publication in a style consistent with the time and place; no precise limit can be placed on how far contemporary can be stretched, since certain binding styles have lasted for quite long periods, but it will probably be the book's first binding."

Original boards, original cloth, publisher's boards or cloth. "The binding in which the book was originally issued for sale. The important distinction between 'contemporary' and 'original' is that an original binding is one provided by the publisher, and there has to be good evidence of this in the form of other copies identically bound."

Full binding: where the book is totally covered in a leather binding; most commonly of sheep, calf, or morocco. Other kinds of leather are pigskin (common on early German books), roan (often used on children's and school books), and russia.

Half binding: the spine and corners of the book are covered in leather, but this does not extend over the whole of the covers.

Quarter binding: only the spine is leather covered.


placing an order

It is easy to order direct from our web-site, and credit card details can be emailed, preferably in two parts for security.

Or if you would like to discuss an item before deciding whether or not to order
please telephone + 44 1904 624414, and ask for Tony Fothergill.


methods of payment

Prepayment is normally requested for all new customers, and the preferred method is by credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard, and please ring or email through your details should you not wish to communicate this information over the internet.

We also accept paypal: our account is

Personal and business cheques are also accepted, although there is a conversion charge for non-sterling payments (£6.00 or dollar equivalent)

Please also provide your full postal address, and a contact number wherever possible.

There are currently no additional service tax charges for orders sent to America.


postage, packing & shipping

Postage and Packing are charged extra, and please specify when ordering whether you wish your order to be sent by air or surface. Surface mail to America can take upto 5 weeks, whereas air parcel should arrive within a week.

UK inland postal charges will not exceed £8.50.

All parcels are fully insured at our expense.



All our books are very carefully described. however should any item be found to be not as described it may of course be returned if you notify us within two weeks of receipt. Please notify us of any intended return before posting, and please acompany any return with a letter of explanation.


Copyright 1999-2012, Ken Spelman Books last revised September 2012