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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Vellum
Originally, a translucent or opaque material produced from calfskin that had been soaked, limed and unhaired, and then dried at normal temperature under tension, usually on a wooden device called a stretching frame. Today, however, vellum is generally defined as a material made from calfskin, sheepskin, or virtually any other skin obtained from a relatively small animal, e.g., antelope. Some authorities do not even distinguish between vellum and parchment, although traditionally the former was made from an unsplit calfskin, and consequently had a grain pattern on one side (unless removed by scraping). while the latter was produced from the flesh split of a sheepskin, and consequently had no grain pattern. The important distinction between vellum (or parchment) and leather is that the former is not tanned hut is prepared essentially by soaking the skin in lime and drying it under tension.
Verso
The back, or reverse, side of the leaf; i.e. the left-hand page of an open book. Verso is the complement to recto.