- Combining search terms
- Quote marks
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.
Allows a search on keywords from any part of the record. For example, these may
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
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
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
A century, in abbreviated form, eg 16c for the sixteenth century.
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
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
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.
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'
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'.
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
"gilt and gauffered" will find records containing the exact
phrase gilt and gauffered
"gilt and" will ignore the 'and', and find all records
containing the word gilt, as will "and gilt"
Phrases and single words can be combined with 'and', 'or', '-' (meaning AND
"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
Marbled endleaves -"marbled endleaves" will find records which
contain marbled and endleaves, excluding
those which contain the phrase marbled endleaves.
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.
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!
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'.
Use * to truncate words or phrases and search on word 'stems',
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
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
"eng* bind*" will only find records containing the word eng
and the word bind,
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
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.
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:
dated (ie date of binding)
markers (ie book markers)
signed (ie by binder)
ticket (ie printed ticket with binder's name)
vellum flap extends over fore edge
Unfamiliar terms may be clarified by consulting Matt. T. Roberts and Don
Etherington, Bookbinding and
the Conservation of Books. A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology.