Today’s post is especially for any newcomers to book collecting or to the antiquarian bookselling trade. If you are trying to learn the proper way to go about understanding a description of a rare book or are describing rare books yourself, read on.
Over at Past is Present is a great article and instructive diagram of the anatomy of a catalog record. I link to it because most of the information included in a library’s catalog record for a rare book should also be included in a bookseller’s written description of such a book. Although the format a bookseller uses to describe a rare book is likely to look different than a library’s, the information needed for both to be useful to the end-user is similar. If you click on the diagram to enlarge it, you’ll get clear, succinct explanations of each part of a rare book catalog description and the reason it is included.