Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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unlettered

A book which has not been blocked or otherwise marked with identifying information on the spine or cover. Before about 1600, books that were lettered at all generally had the title inked or painted on the fore edge, as books were shelved fore edge outward, and binders did not bother to letter the spines of books. Nor did they bother to letter them long after the practice of shelving fore edge outward was discontinued. Possibly it was a matter of economy and perhaps the PRESS MARK (2) sufficed. Labels on spines were unusual in England before about 1660, so that few books were lettered before the middle of the 17th century. Many owners wrote the titles on paper labels or directly on the covering material of the books. Gilt lettering on labels for those particular books was usually stuck on at a later date. (69 )




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