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  • Calf

    A good quality leather used for trade or bespoke bindings. Its natural colour is a plain mid-brown, but it can be dyed different colours (in which case, we specify the colour) or treated decoratively. See also panelled calf, sprinkled calf, tree calf.

  • captioned tissue guards

    Commonly found in early twentieth-century illustrated books where each plate is preceded by a thin sheet of tissue with a printed caption relating to the illustration. The tissue prevents any offsetting from the illustration onto the adjacent text page. Neither the plate nor its tissue guard is counted in the pagination.

  • Case-bound

    Book binding in which the cover (or “case”) is attached to the text block principally by means of the endpapers. This has been the usual method of binding since the introduction of publisher’s cloth in the 1820s. The more traditional and robustly made hand-bound book has cords sewn across its back and attached to, and even recessed into, the boards. Case-bound books are usually only specified as such by us if they have been re-cased.

  • Chemise

    A protective construction of cloth-backed card folded around the book or pamphlet, sometimes with cloth ties, often designed to be then inserted in a slipcase or box. Chemises are usually custom-made for collectors, rather than being issued by the publisher, but some modern livres d’artistes and other lavish books of that ilk are issued with them, in which case we specify that they are the “publisher’s” or “original” chemise.

  • Clasps

    Used to hold the book closed; they are usually made with brass hinges and catches and a leather strap, though other materials may be used. They are more often found in early books.

  • cloth-backed boards

    The backstrip is cloth; the sides are plain or paper-covered boards. There was a brief period in the 1820s when some English books were issued thus, just before the introduction of publisher’s cloth, and the style is found in many modern books.

  • cocked, rolled

    “Cocked” means that the spine of the book is slanted, a condition endemic to case-bound books that have been re-read very many times. “Rolled” is the less noticeable state of the same condition. Collectors of modern books in ideal condition will prefer spines that are square. (But collectors of books with interesting provenance may welcome the implication that the book was actually read by its notable former owner.)

  • Cockled

    The smooth surface of the cloth is disrupted by small pockets of air between the cloth and the underlying board where the cloth is no longer fully adhered to the board. Usually caused by the cloth having been in contact with water.

  • Collation

    A technical description of a book or manuscript by its signatures or the number of its quires, and a statement of the sheets or leaves in each quire, given in abbreviated format, e.g. a–p8 q6 r6 A8 B8 C4. This helps confirm that the book has the same make-up as the ideal copy and is therefore complete. But the notation quickly gets complicated, requiring text formatting like superscript to be truly accurate, and, except in the case of incunabula or a few other unusual instances, we do not give collations in our book descriptions. We can of course supply them on request. All our books are collated by our cataloguers, and any deviation from the ideal collation is noted.

  • Colophon

    A printed statement at the end of the book, found mainly in early books (though revived in the private press era), stating usually the title of the book, the publisher and or printer, and the place and date of publication.

  • Compartments

    The spaces on the spine between the raised bands. Flat spines without raised bands can have “compartments” decoratively delineated by gilt or blind tooling.

  • contemporary; near contemporary

    “Contemporary” means bound at or very shortly after publication, and implies that this is most likely the book’s first binding. “Near contemporary” means that the style indicates that it was done within 50 years of publication; it may not be the book’s first binding, though possibly it is. Otherwise, bindings are “later”, or their date is specified.

  • Copac

    The merged online catalogues of many major university, specialist, and national libraries in the UK and Ireland, including the British Library, accessible free at www.copac.ac.uk. COPAC is usually used by us as a broad indicator of scarcity.

  • Cosway binding

    So called after the famous Regency miniaturist Richard Cosway (though having no connection with him), Cosway binding was a style originally executed by Rivière & Son in the early years of the twentieth century for the London booksellers Henry Sotheran’s, with miniatures by Miss C. B. Currie mounted under a curved glass oval inset in the front cover of a good-quality morocco binding richly decorated in gilt. Some but not all examples had certificates of authenticity signed by Miss Currie and J. H. Shorthouse, the Sotheran bookshop manager credited as the inventor of the style. Imitations are designated “Cosway-style” bindings.

  • covers

    The everyday term for the covered boards of a book, and used by us when we refer to the board of the book and its covering together. To prevent confusion with the underlying material, which is typically pasteboard, where another dealer might say “upper board”, we prefer the more readily understood “front cover”.

  • Custom

    A bespoke solander box, slipcase and/or chemise has been commissioned at a later date to protect the book, as distinct from any similar protective casing originally issued with the book by the publisher.