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The Collation

Sometimes books surprise us, and not always for the reasons we expect. Is there something unusual about the book below? Is is maybe a bit more narrowly oblong than usual?

a 16xx Barlement

an oddly shaped book

Two years ago, I took Rare Book School’s course on descriptive bibliography. It was a great experience—it immersed me, and a group of other similarly dedicated biblionerds (as one of my friends affectionately refers to those of us who ooh and ahh at the intricacies and oddities of rare books), into the details of producing descriptions of rare books according to the established principles of bibliographical description. (“What would Bowers do?” was our mantra.) 1 

  1. The answer, of course, was to be found in Fredson Bowers’s Principles of Bibliographical Description, first published in 1949 and oft reprinted since.
  2. Should you wish to learn more about 10mos, and the questions raised by it, read David Paisey’s “Decimo: Reflections on Some Rare Formats” in The Italian Book 1465-1800: Studies Presented to Dennis E. Rhodes, ed. Denis V. Reidy (1993), pp. 161-74 and B.J. McMullin’s “Paisey’s Oblong Decimo,” Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin 20 (1996): 224-25.


I love unusual formats. For a book in 9s and another in 8s and 1s, see “Unusual Structures” about halfway down in There is a bit of followup here:

David Levy — August 1, 2014


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