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A synthetic paint based on acrylic polymer resin. When dry it is water resistant, stable, flexible and non yellowing. Acrylic paint can be thinned with linseed oil, turpentine or water and can be mixed with a glazing media. It dries more quickly than oil paint.

Decoration made by cutting out designs from one piece of material (usually cloth) and applying them to the surface of another. Often stitched in the case of cloth.

A technique of etching where the finished print resembles a watercolour and is tonal rather than linear. An aquatint is created by covering a metal plate with a granular resin which filters the acid on the metal plate. Sometimes sand is used by the artist, which has been treated with an acid resisting ground to produce a grainy effect similar to aquatint resin. To make the design on the plate a stopping-out varnish is painted over the resin and the plate is immersed in acid. By repeating the varnishing and immersing, tonal effects can be achieved.

A style which was developed in reaction to ART NOUVEAU and was highly popular during the period 1910-1935. The principal characteristics are geometric motifs and the use of industrial images and materials. Art Deco was principally decorative and was found in architecture, textiles, furniture, wallpapers, graphic design, clocks etc. Art Deco helped to popularise other modern art movements like Cubism and Futurism.

A decorative style that grew from the ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT at the turn of the 19th Century. Art Nouveau was influenced by the Rococo and Gothic styles and Eastern art designs. The style was widely found across Europe and in the United States in furniture, textiles, wallpapers, graphic design, architecture etc.

Was begun in England in 1860 by William Morris whose vision combined the ideals of Carlyle, Pugin and Ruskin. The firm Morris & Co.brought together the varied talents of Rosetti, Burne-Jones, Crane, Ford Madox Brown, Ashbee, Lethaby, Mackmurdo and others. In terms of decoration, the Arts and Crafts Movement paved the way for the designs of ART NOUVEAU through its recurring stylized plant motifs. As well as design & decoration, the Arts and Crafts Movement was also concerned with social improvements & justice, materials and traditional methods of working. Morris & Co. designs are still in current production today on fabrics and wallpapers and are as popular as ever.

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A strip used by binder to reinforce the back of the folded sheets in the binding of the books spine.

A RESIST technique for making designs on to textile. The areas not to be coloured are waxed and then the fabric is immersed in dye. Successive immersions allow different dyes to be added and thereby to build up intricate designs.

Material used for the protective cover of a book, e.g. leather, cloth, BUCKRAM, paper etc.

A device or design that is impressed without ink onto a print or book to identify the artist, creator, printer, publisher or owner.

The front and back covers of a hard backed book.

The separate paper covering of the book. This is also referred to as the dust jacket or dust wrapper.

Approximate conversions from the early printed book sizing:

FOLIO – More than 13” tall x approx 10”, generally a tall & narrow format.

4to (QUARTO) – Approximately 10” -12” tall x 8”, generally a squarer shaped book format. Formed from a paper sheet folded in half twice and comprising of four leaves or eight pages.

8vo (OCTAVO) – Approximately 8” - 9” tall x 5” book format. Formed from a paper sheet folded in half three times and comprising of eight leaves or sixteen pages.

12mo (DUODECIMO or TWELVEMO) – Approximately 7 ½“ tall book format. Formed from a paper sheet folded in half twice and then in thirds, and comprising of twelve leaves or twenty four pages.

16mo (SEXTODECIMO or SIXTEENMO) – Approximately 6 ½” tall x 3 ½” book format. Formed from a paper sheet folded in half four times and comprises sixteen leaves or thirty two pages.

Large sheet of paper printed on one side only e.g. advertising posters or proclamations.

Stiffened fabric sometimes used in book bindings.

BUMPED (condition)
Refers to the corners of spine ends of a book that has been damaged by being dropped or carelessly handled.

Engraving tool that comprises of a small metal rod with a pointed triangular head which is used to scoop out wood or metal, resulting in a BURR.

Metal ridges formed when an engraver cuts their block or plate in DRYPOINT or LINE ENGRAVING.

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The outer covers of a book usually made from thick cardboard and normally covered in paper, cloth or leather.

CHIPPED (condition)
When small pieces are broken off the dust jacket or binding.

An approximate date of printing / manufacture / creation when the actual date is unknown. Can be abbreviated to ca.

CLOSED TEAR (condition)
A tear with no material actually missing.

A process that involves sticking bits and pieces of paper, fabric or other material onto a surface to make a picture.

A brief description or production notes relevant to the edition of a book. It is often found on the reverse of the title page or on older books it can be at the end of the book. A colophon can also refer to a printers mark or logo.

A term relating to book binding that is understood to mean the books first binding and / or being done close to the time of publication. Up until the 19th century books were often published unbound with the understanding that the book owner would have the book bound at his or her leisure.

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DAMP STAIN (condition)
A stain left on a cover or pages that have been exposed to water.

Uneven and uncut edges, often found on books printed on hand made paper and not trimmed by the binder. Sometimes simulated by binders on regular paper.

A process that involves cutting out paper designs and pictures and sticking them on to a surface or the surface of an object (e.g. screen).

The printer’s or publisher’s imprint sometimes referred to as a colophon, usually found on the copyright page (when present).

A book which has been removed from its binding and where the binding is usually not present.

DOG EARED (condition)
Worn or ragged corners of pages or binding, turned down like a dog’s ear.

Steel needle or diamond point tool that is held like a pen and used to scratch a design into a copper plate during the INTAGLIO engraving process.

A method of INTAGLIO engraving in which the design is scratched onto a copper plate with a steel needle or diamond point. BURRS created when the lines are made are allowed to remain to give a soft, fuzzy effect on the print. Due to the fragility of the BURR, drypoint plates can wear out very quickly, though they can be steel faced by electrolysis.

A separate paper cover for a book. Originally intended to offer protection for the book and which can often include information not found elsewhere in the book.

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All copies of a book printed from the same setting of type, at one time or over a period of time, with no major changes, additions or revisions. Minor changes such as the correction of some misspelled words, a dedication or similar very minor alterations may be made. The revised copies are still considered part of the same edition by being described as different states or issues.

The double leaves that are added to the book by the binder, that become the pastedowns and free endpapers inside the front and rear covers. These papers are an integral part of the construction of a book without which the life and value of a book is drastically shortened.

The method of cutting a design into a block or plate to create a printed IMPRESSION. Engraving can be made through various processes:


A highly skilled method of engraving where the design is cut into the metal plate by controlled immersion in acid. The artist covers a metal plate in a GROUND which acts as a RESIST to the acid, the design is then picked out in the ground with a special steel needle, the artist controls how deeply the cuts are made. When satisfied with the design the artist will clean and ink the plate and begin a series of test immersions called STATES, when happy with the result – called the ‘final state’, the printing can begin.

From a public library or collection.

From a private library. Can also indicate a bookplate or stamp detailing a previous owner.

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FAIR (condition)
A book that can be quite worn, but all it’s important parts present. However, they may be soiled, with tears, endpapers missing etc.

FINE (condition)
A well preserved copy that has no defects in book or jacket, but that is not as crisp as when it was first published.

The first appearance of text in print.

Plain papers at the front and rear of a book, after the endpapers.

FOXING (condition)
The appearance of brown & rust coloured spots and blemishes on old paper. Thought to be caused by impurities in the paper and / or exposure to humidity.

The illustration facing the title page.

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A GROUND made of gypsum or chalk mixed with water or glue to provide a dense brilliantly white absorbent surface for TEMPERA and some types of OIL PAINTING.

Pages cut smooth and gilded with a thin layer of gold leaf.

GOOD (condition)
A book or dust jacket in good used and worn condition, complete with all its parts.

A bare support not suitable for painting with. Used in a variety of circumstances, including protecting the support from dampness and atmospheric pollution and making a suitable surface for painting upon. The four types of grounds most commonly used are GESSO, oil, emulsion and acrylic. A ground is also used in etching as an acid resisting wax or varnish which is spread over the surface of the metal plate before a design is made with a steel needle. In this method, the ground must be soft enough for the needle to mark without chipping, dark enough to show the design and hard enough to resist the MORDANT.

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A book which has had the spine and corners covered in one material such as cloth or leather and the rest of the book and rear covered in another, such as board or cloth.

Where the interior sides of the binding meet the spine of a book.

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A print made from a carved or engraved block, plate or stone. A good impression is one for which the strength of ink, pressure and control of the paper combine to present a clear and faithful copy of the original.

All the copies of a book printed during one print run.

Information printed at the foot of the title page which can give the place of publication, name of printer / publisher and the date of printing.

Signed by the author or someone associated with the book, but with more wording than just a signature.

A design used in printing, sculpture and jewellery which is cut below the surface, rather than RELIEF work, where the design stands out. In printmaking the design is ETCHED or ENGRAVED so when the ink or paint is spread over the metal plate and then wiped off, the ink or paint remains in the incised design. The paper is then firmly pressed against the plate, forcing the inked design onto the paper.

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Where the exterior sides of the book join the spine.

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An edition of a specific number of prints where each IMPRESSION bears a number from the sequence e.g. 12/20 (the twelfth impression from an edition of twenty). After the print run, the plate is destroyed or marked, preventing any more impressions from being made.

The use of pen drawing with waterproof ink and watercolour washes over the top to add colour.

Basic INTAGLIO engraving technique in which a design is cut into a metal plate. The resulting BURRS are then removed so that each line is sharply defined.

A printmaking process that operates on the principal that water and oil will not mix. A greasy / waxy crayon is used to draw a design on to the surface of a porous stone (usually limestone), the surface is wetted and an oil based ink is rolled across the surface. The ink will adhere to the greasy areas of the design and be repelled by the water. The stone is then pressed onto paper to create a print. The term also refers to a photomechanical process that uses a metal plate (which can be wrapped around a cylinder) that prints onto a rubber ‘blanket’ which in turn transfers the design onto paper, this process is known as ‘offset’ lithography. Both forms of lithography are examples of PLANOGRAPHY.

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An INTAGLIO or RELIEF printing process that was developed in the seventeenth century, in which a metal plate is covered with burred dots by a toothed tool called a ROCKER. The resulting BURRS are scraped away to give soft half tones and lights. The tone varies according to the depth of the scraping. Darker tones are created by using a DRY POINT NEEDLE. Mezzotints were widely used for coloured printmaking in the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries, especially in the reproduction of paintings. The end result is often a soft, velvety appearance of tones and colours.

A COLLAGE made up entirely of printed or photographed images.

The acid that is used to immerse an etching plate into. The mordant eats away at the lines on the plate that are not protected by a RESIST. Mordant is also a term used in gilding where it is used in conjunction with gold leaf.

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Method of painting using paint which has been made with a pigment that has been ground and mixed with oil, thinners and siccatives (additives to accelerate the drying time). The oil paint is usually applied with either brushes or a palette knife on to a canvas or board.

OPEN TEAR (condition)
A tear that may have some material missing.

One for which the artist alone is responsible for making the image on the plate from which the print is to be taken. Most original prints are signed and the plates are defaced after the edition is complete.

Words written by previous owners of the book.

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The numbering of pages.

PAPER BACK (ppb or pb)
A book bound with flexible paper covers.

A commercial form of the INTAGLIO printing process. Upon close inspection parts of the image can appear soft and velvety and the background made up of a very faint honeycomb, created by a fine mesh necessary during the printing process.

A MONTAGE made up entirely from cut out photographs.

A printing process such as LITHOGRAPHY where the ink is put onto a flat surface and is not put on a raised or incised surface such as in INTAGLIO or RELIEF printing.

The impression made on the paper around the printed design from the pressing action of the edges of an INTAGLIO PLATE.

A special page containing an illustration or other extra information.

The surface, usually metal, from which a printed IMPRESSION is made.

A method of PLANOGRAPHIC printing that was common across Europe from the late 19th century and which became especially popular in France during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The plates were regularly used in the French journals of the time; fashion publications such as Le Jardin des Dames et des Modes and the Gazette du Bon Ton: arts, modes & frivolities along with illustrated French industrial design, interiors, textile, and architecture folios. The printing method involves the cutting of stencils from thin metal (later plastic or celluloid). A colourist would then paint through the stencil using a variety of brushes (including soft and broad examples) and by varying the pressure and thickness of a water based paint or an ink would create an image that was difficult to tell apart from hand colouring. If the paint was applied thickly it could leave a ridge against the stencils edge that was visible when the stencil was removed creating more interest.

The resulting image made after pressing an inked block, screen or plate on to a chosen surface, usually paper. A number of IMPRESSIONS are made from the same plate. See further information on some of the types of printing:

Etching, Engraving & Silkscreen.

A print made before an edition is commenced so that the artist or printer can check and ensure that the PLATE is printing as it should be. If necessary, making any alterations.

Evidence that give past details of ownership and history to an artwork.

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A book with the spine bound in a different material to the boards.

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READING COPY (condition)
A book that is complete in text and plates but so badly worn that it is only suitable for reading and not to for a collection. This also suggests that the book is not worth rebinding.

A crease down the spine of a book (usually a paperback).

A repair where the entire binding has been replaced by a new binding.

A repair where the book is taken apart and put back together again using original pages, cloth and endpapers. Usually done after the sewing has been tightened up or the pages washed etc.

A right hand side page when the book is open and facing the reader.

An image that projects from a fixed background in carved modelled or moulded works in either; high (alto), medium (mezzo), low (bas) or almost flat (rilievo schiacciato) relief. The term is also used when describing printing blocks or plates (such as woodcuts) in which the area not to printed is cut away so the design stands out from the background and is the only portion to receive ink.

A substance that prevents a liquid like paint or ink from acting upon a surface like paper or fabric. Resists can be varnish, wax, masking tape, rubber cement etc.

A tool consisting of a slightly serrated curved blade, which is used to roughen the surface of a metal plate in the production of MEZZOTINTS.

RUBBED (condition)
Where colour has been worn away on portions of the binding or dust jacket.

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SHAKEN (condition)
Where the text block is loose in its binding; no longer tight yet not detached.

Popular method of making prints widely used by commercial designers and creative artists. Process involves using a fine mesh screen usually made from silk which is stretched taut on a frame with paper or another suitable surface positioned underneath. A design can be cut with a stencil and placed on top of the silk screen or painted directly onto the screen with a varnish or other RESIST. Ink or paint is then wiped across the surface of the screen, only penetrating the areas that are not protected by the stencil or RESIST. It is possible to build up subtle or complex prints by using more than on screen and different colours. Silkscreen printing is widely used in commercial textile printing.

A box built to house and protect a book, leaving the spine exposed.

The backbone or the back of a book where the title is displayed when it is standing upright on a shelf.

The series of preparations used by artists when carrying out individual IMPRESSIONS during the process of ETCHING. The artist makes test impressions to judge the condition of the plate prior to the ‘final state’ and printing. The different states are recorded in order of their execution, for example:

first state, second state, third state and final state.

Variations within editions which are made during printing and prior to publication. This could be the changing of damaged type, addition of advertisements, textual changes affecting page layout etc., made part way through printing. Resulting in a 1st state when the print run started and a 2nd state when it restarts after the small change has been made.

SUNNED (condition)
Browning, yellowing of paper, dust jacket or binding as a result of exposure to strong sunlight.

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Decorative leather work on the exterior of the book.

The name given to the publishers decorative coloured stain sometimes applied to the top page edges.

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A book that was never bound into covers by the publisher. Not to be confused with DISBOUND.

Edges that are rough cut, rather than being neatly trimmed by the binders.

When the folded edges of the bound pages remain joined together and have not been sliced open. Consequently, unread.

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A protective covering made of natural or synthetic resin dissolved in turpentine or oil. A good varnish protects the paint surface from damp and atmospheric pollution and will not alter the pigments. It should also be easy to remove for cleaning or restoration.

A left hand side page when the book is open and facing the reader.

VERY GOOD (condition)
Very light wear to book and or jacket. No large tears or major defects.

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Method of painting with transparent washes of colour from a medium that is water soluble e.g. gouache.

A faint identifying design.

A method of printing where the non-inked areas of the plate are used to show the image rather than the inked areas.

A printmaking technique similar to a WOODCUT using a particularly hard wood (often box and cut from the end of a plank not the side) that is highly polished. A BURIN is used to cut a design which will produce a WHITE LINE ENGRAVING. Wood engraving can achieve subtle effects similar to that from a metal plate since the engraving is done into (not across) the end grain of finely textured wood. This technique was easy to set up with typed printing and it became commonly used in newspaper and book illustrations of the mid nineteenth century. Photomechanical printing took over from wood engraving in the 1880’s.

An ancient printmaking technique where a section of wood (taken from the side of a plank and not the end) is cut into with knives and chisels to create a design in RELIEF. The block is then inked and has a sheet of paper pressed down onto it to produce a design. Subsequent colours can be added by carving and inking different wooden blocks. Woodcuts were widely used in European book illustrations in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The technique became superseded by the development of metal engraving until it was revived towards the end of the nineteenth century.

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