When you buy an antique or collectible book, it’s important to know what exactly you’re getting. Condition tend to vary, so knowing the terminology used to describe the different parts of an antique book is essential for collectors, or anyone looking to expand their bookshelf! Here’s a brief rundown of some common terms used by book sellers when they describe a vintage book:
Antiquarian: An antiquarian book means it fits into the “collectible” genre. This term suggests that the book was printed years or centuries ago and is generally quite rare.
Advanced Copy or ARC (Advanced Review Copy): A copy of the book that was published prior to the known publication date for reviewers and sellers.
Backstrip: Material that covers the spine of the book.
Binding: The complete cover of the book, which includes the backstrip/spine.
Book Club Edition: A specialized reprint of the book’s 1st Edition. Some Book Club Editions may be condensed.
Covers: The front, back and spine of the book – i.e, the complete binding of the book.
Dust Jacket (DJ): Hardcover books are sold either with or without a Dust Jacket. A Dust Jacket (DJ) refers to the paper artwork that covers the book’s exterior. Hardcover books are much more valuable when a Dust Jacket is included. Depending on the condition of the Dust Jacket, the book’s value increases by about 35-100%. A book in excellent condition with an intact dust jacket can double in value.
Ephemera: A written or printed document originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity. Most paper ephemera are quite rare because of this. “Paper Ephemera” refers to pamphets, booklets, brochures, playbills and other vintage items.
1st Edition: The first available printed copy of a collectible book.
Foxed / Foxing: Foxing refers to a chemical reaction that causes brownish staining or spotting of the papers. Foxing is usually seeing in older books (19th century or before) with steel engravings.
Fray: Loose threads in a book with a cloth overlay that emerge from the cover or backstrip.
Gilding: Refers to a decorative overlay to the book’s cover or binding, usually gold or silver, to give it a more alluring appearance.
Illustration: Any type of picture, design, graphic, map, or diagram printed within the text of the book. Note the book’s illustrator along with the author.
Impression: This term refers to the number of copies during a particular press run
Library-Bound: A book produced for libraries or schools; generally with a more durable binding
Limited Edition: Refers to a publication that has been restricted to a small amount of copies for a specific audience
Marbled: Paper decorated with an imitation marble pattern.
Mint Condition: Book’s condition is like new; as in the same day as publication
No Date (ND): The book shows no publication date, or the date is unknown.
Pamphlet: A short paper edition that covers a single subject area
Paperback: A soft cover book with a paper exterior
Tips: The furthermost corners of the book
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