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Reading Early Printed Books

A Guide to the Book as Artifact

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Created by Melinda Hayes, Rare Books Librarian, Special Collections

Introduction & Featured Book

There is more to early printed books than the text. This guide with provide you with an introduction to the terminology and aspects of the book as artifact. Finding out about the methods used to create books by hand and for whom will help you understand the history behind the texts that are printed on their pages.

Pierre Le Moyne's The gallery of heroick women (London: Roger Norton for Henry Seile, 1652)
CT3201 .L42 1652

Shown here is the title page engraved by noted engraver Karl Audran, which accompanies the title page printed by Roger Norton. Anne of Austria is depicted on the pedestal. For more about the Karl Audrian see the Wikipedia article.

How Books Are Put Together

Aspects of early printed books are described below and represented in the tabs across the top of this guide. They often represent different trades or individuals who had a hand in creating a book, or in the book's history. Terms from the Thesauri developed by the Bibliographic Standards Committee of ALA's Rare Books & Manuscripts Section help bring these books together. In each of the Tabs you will find a list of the terms associated such books at USC, and linking you to the books you may want to request.

Term types include: