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Search tips
Keyword search
Advanced search
Further techniques
- Combining search terms
- Truncation
- Quote marks
Approved Terms

The database has two main types of search: keyword search and advanced search. You can also browse the indexes of bookbinder, ownership marks, country, cover material, colour, edges, decorative technique, style/type, and period on the left hand side on the advanced search page. In addition the picture gallery will allow you to browse all the bindings images.

Please note that the 'Site search' icon in the left hand sidebar links to the search engine for the British Library website. That search engine does not cover the Database of Bookbindings.

Keyword search

Allows a search on keywords from any part of the record. For example, these may be:
  • A shelfmark (omit punctuation, spaces and ignore numbers in brackets), eg C25h7 not C.25.h.7, and C150g4, not C.150.g.4(1).
  • Taken from the author's name, the title, the place or date of publication of the text.
  • Any term from the A-Z listings available for the advanced searches.
  • Any term from the data in the Notes field which is descriptive of the binding, eg clasps, bosses, etc. To retrieve results, your search terms need to correspond exactly with words used in the Notes field. See list of approved terms.
  • A century, in abbreviated form, eg 16c for the sixteenth century.
Use the operators 'or', 'and', and '-' (meaning AND NOT) to combine terms. The 'Display as' option allows you to view the results of the search either as a detailed list or as a set of images in the picture gallery format.

Advanced search

The advanced search allows a search for bookbinder, ownership mark, country of binding, covering material, colour of covering material, decoration of the edges of the leaves, decorative technique, style/type of decoration, and period of binding. Pick your search terms from the alphabetical lists to the right of the search boxes and click “Add To Search”. You can search several fields together and also search on a combination of terms within one field. The default operator for combining terms in one field is “AND” in all fields except for bookbinder, country, and period where it is “OR”.  As well as adding new search terms from the drop down lists provided, you can type in your own keywords and phrases within the corresponding text boxes, just as you can on the Keyword Search page. See further techniques for more details.

Further techniques

This section is a more detailed guide to the Keyword and Advanced searches, and provides techniques on refining searches. In general the logic follows common conventions, but there are some exceptions. The following guidelines should be used:

Combining search terms

  1. Join words with 'and', 'or', '-' (meaning AND NOT), eg:
    • gilt and gauffered will find records containing the word gilt and the word gauffered.
    • gilt or gauffered will find records containing the word gilt or containing the word gauffered.
    • gilt - gauffered will find records containing the word gilt but not also containing the word gauffered.


  2. Two or more consecutive words without 'and', 'or', '-' (meaning AND NOT) will be treated as if the AND operator had been placed between them, eg:
    • marbled endleaves will find records containing the word marbled and the word endleaves, as in the example with 'and' above.


  3. To search for a specific phrase, enclose the words in double-quotes, eg:
    • "marbled endleaves" will find records containing the phrase marbled endleaves, but not records where the words are separated, as in 'marbled paper. Yellow endleaves'.


  4. Within a phrase, 'and' is treated as a word rather than as a joining term, except where it is the first or last word of the phrase in which case it is ignored. eg:
    • "gilt and gauffered" will find records containing the exact phrase gilt and gauffered
      however
    • "gilt and" will ignore the 'and', and find all records containing the word gilt, as will "and gilt"


  5. Phrases and single words can be combined with 'and', 'or', '-' (meaning AND NOT), eg:
    • "tooled in gold" and painted will find records containing the phrase tooled in gold, and the word painted.
    • "tooled in gold" or painted will find records containing either the phrase tooled in gold or the word painted.
    • "tooled in gold" - painted will find records containing the phrase tooled in gold, excluding those which contain the word painted.
    • Marbled endleaves -"marbled endleaves" will find records which contain marbled and endleaves, excluding those which contain the phrase marbled endleaves.


  6. In complex expressions, 'and' is processed before 'or', eg:
    • Germany and clasps or ties will find records which contain Germany and also contain clasps, or those which contain the word ties.
      however
    • Germany or clasps and ties will find records which contain the word clasps and also contain the word ties, or those which contain the word Germany. This is not the same as the previous search!


  7. Use parentheses within long expressions to clarify the order of 'and', 'or', '-' (meaning AND NOT).
    • (clasps or ties) and Germany will find records containing either clasps or ties, and also containing the word Germany
      This will give the same result if entered as Germany and (clasps or ties).

      Note that the result of this search is not the same as the result of either of the previous versions without parentheses. These are equivalent to, respectively, (Germany and clasps) or ties and Germany or (clasps and ties). It is therefore advisable to use parentheses whenever combining 'and' and 'or'.

Truncation

  1. Use * to truncate words or phrases and search on word 'stems', eg :
    • tool* will find records containing the word stem tool, for example tooling, tooled in blind, tooled in gold etc.

      In particular adding the * will find both singular and plural versions of a word, eg clasp* will match both clasp and clasps.


  2. Truncation can only be applied to individual words, not to words in phrases, where the truncation will be ignored and the stem searched for, eg:
    • eng* bind* will find records containing the words English, England etc. and the words binders, bindings etc.
      but
    • "eng* bind*" will only find records containing the word eng and the word bind,


  3. Truncation can be mixed with other terms in combination, eg:
    • brown and eng* bind* will find records containing the word brown and also containing the words English, England etc. and the words binders, bindings etc.

Use of quote marks

  1. Double-quotes are used to define phrases (as para 3 above), but single-quotes are ignored, eg:
    • 'gilt and gauffered' will be treated as gilt and gauffered, and return all records containing the word gilt and the word gauffered.


Approved Terms

Elements of binding description not covered by the advanced search (ie the notes field in a record) can only be found using the Keyword Search. Please note that search terms must correspond exactly with words used in the Notes field, but they may of course be truncated. Technical terms should be typed as they appear in the list of approved terms below:
bosses
clasps
dated (ie date of binding)
doublure
endleaves
fore edge
markers (ie book markers)
pastedown
signed (ie by binder)
ticket (ie printed ticket with binder's name)
ties
vellum flap extends over fore edge
wooden boards

Unfamiliar terms may be clarified by consulting Matt. T. Roberts and Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books. A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology.

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