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Glossary of Rare Books Terms

    • adverts, advertisements

      Publisher’s advertisements (adverts or ads) are often printed on inserted leaves not integral to the book, and we note their presence or absence, specifying their date or other characteristics if that has bibliographic significance. Inserted adverts sometimes have a bearing on the issue of the book. If the book has integral adverts, we usually do not mention it.

    • aquatint

      An intaglio printmaking technique, a variant of etching, which uses powdered resin rather than a needle to resist the acid bite into the copper plate, thus creating a subtle tonal effect with a distinctive, watery look. Aquatint plates may be left uncoloured or issued with contemporary hand-colouring, as in the publications of Rudolph Ackermann.

    • archival repair

      The use of this phrase signals that any repair has been done professionally using acid-free material, and that the repair is in principle fully reversible.

    • association copy

      A copy once owned by someone connected with the author or the book. A somewhat elastic term: would Churchill’s copy of Mein Kampf, for example, be an association copy? It would certainly add to its interest.

    • autograph letter signed

      A letter fully in the hand of its author (i.e. not secretarial) and signed with the author’s name. Traditionally abbreviated as “ALs”, though not by us.