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Collectible Book Terminology Part 3 – Internal Pages

by Liz Holderman (02/09/09).

Dealer catalogs often contain confusing words or phrases to describe the books that are offered for sale. The terms may be understandable to professionals and bibliophiles, but new collectors and casual owners can sometimes find the jargon puzzling. In Part III of this series, we examine the verbiage used for internal pages.

Many do not realize that the pages before and after the narration are very important, even if they just show advertising. They can sometimes help identify the issue or date of a book, especially one that was produced by many different publishers. A book is always worth less if these pages are missing.

Title page for “The Roosevelt Bears,” 1906.
Title page for “The Roosevelt Bears,” 1906.

Title Page – A page in the front of the book that states the author, publisher, illustrator and sometimes the date of publication.

Copyright Date – This is the date that the work first appeared (when the protective copyright was established) and does not date the book in hand. The work may have appeared in a magazine or newspaper prior to book publication, or in other previous book publications. The copyright page usually appears on the reverse side of the title page.

Edges – The three outer edges of the pages, as visible when the book is closed (top, fore and bottom). The edges might be gilded or marbled. In specialized books, the fore-edge was sometimes painted with a scene that only could be viewed when the pages were slightly fanned. Edges might also be Unopened, which means the folded leaves have not been cut apart in the finishing process (and the book cannot be read). Confusingly, Uncut or Deckle edges have been cut apart but have not been trimmed and therefore appear rough.

Recto – The front side of a page. If a book is lying open, this is the page on the right.

Verso – The back (or reverse) side of a page.

Errata and Addenda Slips – Pages inserted after a book has been printed to identify mistakes or additions.

Frontispiece for Nancy Drew #14, “The Whispering Statue.” A slick, glossy illustration was used in editions between 1937 and 1943.

Frontispiece for Nancy Drew #14, “The Whispering Statue.” A slick, glossy illustration was used in editions between 1937 and 1943.

Frontispiece for Nancy Drew #14, “The Whispering Statue.” A line drawing of the same scene was used in editions between 1943 and 1970. The type of frontispiece helps date vintage juvenile serial books.

Frontispiece for Nancy Drew #14, “The Whispering Statue.” A line drawing of the same scene was used in editions between 1943 and 1970. The type of frontispiece helps date vintage juvenile serial books.

Frontispiece – An illustration facing the title page.

Fly-Leaf – A blank page that appears after the front free endpaper. In earlier days, when paper was scarce, these pages would sometimes be torn out of books to be used elsewhere.

Watermark – An image in the page that can be seen when held to light. In simplified terms, it is created by a wire mold that is part of the tray where the wet pulp settles during papermaking. The mold causes a difference in the thickness of the paper.

Points – Peculiarities or indicators whose presence or absence can help determine the edition or state of a book. These might include typographical errors that were later corrected; changes in illustrations, lettering or chapter headings; specific advertising, etc.

Colophon for the first edition of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” 1900. The absence of a square around the colophon is one indication that this is the second state of the book. NOTE: The seahorse signature in the lower right corner is the trademark of the illustrator W.W. Denslow.
Colophon for the first edition of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” 1900. The absence of a square around the colophon is one indication that this is the second state of the book. NOTE: The seahorse signature in the lower right corner is the trademark of the illustrator W.W. Denslow.

Colophon – A formal note at the end of a book, sometimes with identifying symbols, which might reveal the printer and printing date, as well as other miscellaneous information. An older device, this is usually on the last page or even the endpaper and is generally not found in modern books.

Liz Holderman is a Worthologist who specializes in collectible books

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