Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Although numerous books, both theoretical and practical, have been published on the subject of bookbinding and the conservation of archival materials, there would seem to be a need for one that approaches the subject by examining the meaning and usage of the many terms, expressions, and names pertaining to the various subjects. The nomenclature of bookbinding, its offshoots and more recent progeny, has not, at least insofar as the present writers have been able to determine, been presented in a comprehensive dictionary, although various aspects of the book and its production have been explored in dictionary form, sometimes superlatively, as in the American Paper and Pulp Association's Dictionary of Paper and John Carter's A B C for Book Collectors. The authors of this volume hope that it will help fill a considerable gap in the literature of conservation, one that has for some time been all too evident.

Although this dictionary is intended first and foremost for those actively involved in one or more aspects of the overall field of bookbinding and book conservation, including bookbinders, conservators of library and archival materials, and the like, it is perhaps no less intended for those working in related fields, such as bibliography and librarianship, where the many terms and expressions relating to the overall field may be less familiar and even more confusing.

The compilers accept full responsibility for the selection of terms for inclusion, as well as for the even more difficult task of rejection. The definitions themselves, although herein the responsibility of the same persons, were, whenever possible, drawn from the most authoritative sources available (as indicated by the number in parentheses at the end of a definition, which refers to the Sources and Bibliography section) and supplemented by the experience of the authors. Even though the bibliography and sources cited represent but a relatively small segment of the extensive corpus of literature in the field of conservation, we believe they provide a reasonably good sampling and may benefit the reader by offering an authoritative source for the terms and sometimes providing a source for further investigation. Definitions that do not cite a source are entirely the responsibility of the authors.

Where a term has more than one definition, each is numbered and arranged in its descending order of significance in relation to bookbinding.

The arrangement of the dictionary is letter-by-letter, rather than word-by-word, which means that, while the placement of terms such as C-stage, or m.m. system, etc., will be within the body of the respective letters of the alphabet, and not at the beginning, there should be no problem with locating hyphenated or one- or two-word structures, such as springback, or the more accepted spring-back, as long as the spelling of the term is known. The same is true of fore edge (correct), as opposed to foreedge (sometimes used but awkward). (Foredge would be incorrect.) Fore edge, it should be noted, is only hyphenated when used as a modifier, e.g., fore-edge painting. The arrangement of the dictionary, then, is:

  head box
  headed outline tool
  head trim

The most common (sometimes simply the most commonly encountered) form or spelling of a term has been used, e.g., myrabolans, not myrabalans, gauffered edges, not gauffred, gaufré, or goffered, with the variations in spelling being included with the bold-faced heading. Where a term is also called by another name the synonym is given at the end of the definition, e.g.:

  abaca . Also called "manila hemp."
  adhesive binding . Also called "perfect binding " or "unsewn binding."

See references have been used extensively, as have see also references, which refer the reader to other terms closely, or sometimes only indirectly, related to the term being discussed. See also references and cross references to the terms defined in this dictionary which are cited within the definition itself are set in small capitals, e.g.:

  forel. A grade of
  PARCHMENT made from split sheepskin and
 dressed in imitation of  VELLUM.

There is always the problem of the extent to which one wishes to go in defining any one term. While there may be relatively little one can say, or would want to say, about a material such as Armenian bole, or a procedure such as lengthwise lettering, one could offer quite a lengthy discourse on the finer considerations of break or the molecular structure of glue. But this is a dictionary, not an encyclopedia, a guide to the vocabulary of a field, not a compendium on a specific subject.

A number of persons, both near and far, have generously contributed both their time and expertise in evaluating and criticizing this work. George Kelly, Research Scientist, Research and Testing Office of the Library's Preservation Office, read and commented on the chemical terms. Harold Tribolet, retired, formerly Manager, Graphic Conservation Department, R. R. Donnelly & Sons, Chicago, Illinois, read and offered comments on an earlier version of the work. Bernard Middleton, of London, bookbinder and historian of bookbinding and its related subjects, read and offered extensive comments on the manuscript, especially those terms relating to hand bookbinding and bookbinding history. John Chalmers, bibliophile and former Librarian of the Washington Cathedral Library, Mount Saint Alban, Washington, D.C., read the final version and wrote many pages of comments and criticism. Betty Roberts read and reread several manuscripts and proofread still others. Margaret Schaffer typed the final manuscript and also read the galleys and page proof. Our deep and heartfelt thanks to all.

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