What's the name of this type of antiquarian book?
August 7, 2010 7:54 PM   Subscribe

What's the name for this type of old book?

I have a couple of recent book acquisitions that are small, approximately 4 inches by 6 inches. (10 x 15 cm). Sorry about the photo quality, I took it with my camera phone.

They both have lovely designs on the front and gold leaf on the pages, and the spines seem to be embossed. (correct word for this instance?)

I'd like to get more of these little books, but I don't know what they're called. I checked book sizes, but maybe I was looking at the wrong thing. I also put in terms like "book 4x6" and "pocket book" - and got a lot of brag books and that sort of thing.

I realize I could go to one of my local used bookstores and ask, but I probably can't make it until Monday or so, and I'd like to spend some time browsing online for them this weekend.

The books in the photo are :

Emerson's Conduct of Life & Other Essays (Everyman's Library), J. M. Dent & Co, 1908 [I don't actually think this is an Everyman's Library edition, it makes no mention of it in the book, but I like it anyway]

Selections from the Poetical Works of Robert Browning, Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., 1892
posted by HopperFan to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
From my scant knowledge, book sizes in those days were described by the number of pages created from the original paper size: quarto - four pages from original; octavio - eight pages from original etc.

You may find this wikipedia page on book sizes interesting.
posted by Kerasia at 8:23 PM on August 7, 2010

Response by poster: That wiki page led me to the AbeBooks glossary, where I think I may have found the answer!:

"Sextodecimo (16mo) - A small book, approximately four inches wide and six inches tall. To make it, each sheet of paper is folded four times, forming sixteen leaves (32 pages)."

I'm going to do some searching to see if I can confirm this.
posted by HopperFan at 8:34 PM on August 7, 2010

If you want books with that particular binding, you'll also want to look for "half cloth" (assuming the spines are cloth bound, which is hard to tell from the photos.)

Example 1
, 2, 3, 4
posted by MsMolly at 8:41 PM on August 7, 2010

Response by poster: I'm not sure if it's cloth - it seems smoother? Almost like fine linen with some kind of sheen. The spines are definitely a different material, though.
posted by HopperFan at 8:45 PM on August 7, 2010

This doesn't narrow it down too much in terms of the style (nor the size, really), but both of those are "gift bindings" which, as the name suggests, are fancier decorative bindings, usually on literary classics, intended to be given as gifts.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:02 PM on August 7, 2010

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