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Subject: Terminology: wrappers, limp bindings

Terminology: wrappers, limp bindings

From: John Lancaster <jlancaster>
Date: Saturday, April 18, 1992
The line between limp bindings and wrappers may blur a bit right around
the boundary (like most such distinctions), and examples can probably be
found that would call forth differing opinions from experienced book
people, but in general I believe the term "limp binding" is applied to a
limp material (unstiffened by boards, though occasionally with a lining
of paper) that is actually attached to the binding structure of a text
block (usually by having the cords laced in, though limp cloth is
probably more commonly found with tapes glued between the endpapers and
the cloth, just as in casing).  Limp vellum bindings seem to me to be
far more common than any other kind.

One thing that blurs the distinction is that the term "binding" is now
generally used interchangeably with "casing".  So instead of sticking a
case made of cloth-covered boards onto a text block with glue, you stick
stiff paper, does that mean we have to call it a limp binding? Logic
might dictate so, but I don't think usage does.

"Wrappers", in the technical sense (i.e., not used to apply to cigars or
the generic covering for a package, at least in the plural) applying to
books, almost always *does* refer to an outer covering that is attached
to the rest of the book (pace Robert Milevski), generally either by
being sewn through the fold (for single-gathering pamphlets), or by
being glued onto the spine (the standard paperback), or by being glued
onto the first and last leaves (usually of small pamphlets with more
than one gathering).  Very occasionally, wrappers will simply have flaps
folded over the first and last leaves, just the way a dust jacket is
folded over the front and back covers of a hardcover book, with neither
glue nor thread attaching them, but that's fairly uncommon -- it's too
easy for the wrappers to become separated from a slight book (which
these usually are).

"Dust wrapper" is sometimes used as a synonym for "dust jacket"; I think
the usage is best avoided, if only to remove as much potential for
confusion as possible.

A few definitions from a couple of other sources:

Carter's ABC for Book Collectors [6th ed., rev. Nicolas Barker]:

"Limp: The term is used of binding not based on board sides.

A wrappered book, in antiquarian parlance, is what would ordinarily be
called a paper-back, and it has nothing to do with dust-wrappers or

"Like paper boards, wrappers were used as a temporary covering for books
and pamphlets during the century preceding the introduction of
publisher's cloth (c. 1825)...."

Glaister's Glossary of the Book, 2d edn.:

"limp binding: a style of binding books with thin flexible covers made
without boards....

"wrapper: a paper cover attached to a book or pamphlet as an integral
part of it....  it can be of the same stock as the text sheets and be
machined and folded with them, i.e. a self-wrapper."

Hope this helps.

John Lancaster           (Internet: jlancaster [at] amherst__edu)
Amherst College          (Bitnet: jlancaster@amherst)

                  Conservation DistList Instance 5:52
                  Distributed: Monday, April 20, 1992
                        Message Id: cdl-5-52-002
Received on Saturday, 18 April, 1992

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