Glossary of Rare Book Terms

What is a rare book? What is signed versus inscribed? What is a first edition? What does 8vo stand for?
Find some of the common jargon booksellers and book collectors often use.

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Books bound in tête-bêche (French for "head-to-toe") have no back cover, but two front covers and a single spine with two titles. When a reader reaches the end of the text of one of the works, the next page is the (upside-down) final page of the other work. An example for a tête-bêche binding is the 1956 publication of Patrick Dennis' The Loving Couple: His (and Her) Story.

top edge gilt

The head edge of a book which has been cut smooth and gilded. The other two edges, which are not gilded, may be cut smooth, trimmed slightly, or left uncut.

Tipped-In page, plate, or signature

Tipped-in mostly refers to tipped-in pages, plates, or even signatures. While often part of the book manufacturing process, it is a technology used instead of a bound-in page that is integral to the binding of the book. A tipped-in plate may be glued onto a regular page, and bound along with the other pages. It is often printed on a different kind of paper, using a different printing process, and of a different format than a regular page. In producing signed editions, an author is often given a stack of individual pages to sign which will then, during or after binding process, be glued onto a regular page as tipped-in signature or autograph.

Typed Letter Signed

Typed letter by the signatory with his/her signature. See also ALS (Autographed Letter Signed) with the entire content of the letter being handwritten.
Trimmed before sewing
A book that has had its edges cut before it is sewn. Trimming before sewing is a technique employed when the book is to he rough gilt. Trimming is usually done section by section in a paper cutter, so as to provide a degree of roughness if only the head is to be gilt.