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  • facsimile edition

    Rather than a straightforward new impression or reprint, a facsimile edition is an attempt (usually done much later) to reproduce as closely as possible the first edition of a famous book, e.g. the King James bible, the first Shakespeare folio, theEncyclopaedia Britannica. Early attempts at such facsimiles were lithographic or type-facsimiles, sometimes not very exact; more recent facsimiles have been photographic.

  • fine copy

    The highest accolade we bestow on a book in terms of its physical condition. “Fine” signals an exceptionally well preserved copy showing (if modern) no sign of wear, or (if early) remarkably little. Our scale of condition then descends through “near fine”, “excellent”, “very good” and “good”. “Poor” or “reading” copies certainly exist, but we don’t stock them.

  • folio

    A format of book produced by taking the whole sheet and folding it once, to form a simple bifolium of two leaves, or four pages. When such printed leaves are gathered together and sewn, the resulting book is sometimes said to be “in twos”. (When the original sheet is folded twice, the format obtained is quarto; when folded three times, octavo; four times, duodecimo; and so on.) Apart from books made from single whole sheets mounted on stubs (a construction almost entirely confined to atlases), folio is the largest book format.

    The standard sizes of sheet have varied greatly over the centuries, so that a nineteenth-century “imperial” octavo may be as tall or taller than a fifteenth-century “chancery” folio. We give the dimensions of the trimmed page in all hand-bound books.

  • fore edge

    One of the three surfaces left uncovered by the binding; the others are called top edge and bottom edge. When shelved normally, the fore edge faces inwards.

  • fore-edge painting

    A watercolour painted on the fanned-out fore edge of a book, usually hidden under gilt when the book is closed.

  • foxing

    Brownish-yellow spots staining the paper, probably as a result of reaction between atmospheric damp and impurities in the paper.

  • French fillet

    A fillet is a binder’s roll-tool used to impress a line into the binding material. A French fillet is a triple fillet, often set asymmetrically to produce one large and two smaller parallel gilt lines on the finished binding.

  • frontispiece

    An illustration facing the title-page of a book.