Glossary for Collectors
A book or imprint that is between 10" and 12" tall.
A book or imprint that is between 8" and 9.75" tall.
AD (Autograph Document)
Document handwritten by the person specified, but not signed.
ADS (Autograph Document Signed)
Document both handwritten and signed by the person specified.
A magazine primarily devoted to the advertising of comic books and collectibles as its first publishing priority as opposed to written articles.
AL (Autograph Letter)
Letter handwritten by the specified person, but not signed.
ALS (Autograph Letter Signed)
Letter both handwritten and signed by the person specified.
A book that is published yearly; can also refer to some square bound comics.
ANS (Autograph Note Signed)
Note both handwritten and signed by the person specified (shorter than a letter, no salutation, etc.)
An Apparent grade is applied to any collectible that has evidence of repair so that it will appear as it did when it was in its original condition. These repairs can be either professional or amateur in their application.
The term refers to conservation materials and techniques that are accepted by libraries for the preservation and permanent housing of their old and rare materials. Archival grade materials must be absolutely inert, with no chemical interaction with the objects, and the techniques must be reversible, that is, removable without leaving any traces on the objects. They can be obtained from supply houses specializing in this type of item.
The date written (often in pencil) or stamped on the cover of comics by either the local wholesaler, newsstand owner, or distributor. The date precedes the cover date by approximately 15 to 75 days, and may vary considerably from one locale to another or from one year to another.
An artist's proof is one outside the regular edition, but printed at the same time or after the regular edition from the same plates without changes. By custom, the artist retains the A/Ps for his personal use or sale.
A publisher's in-house facsimile of a proposed new title. Most ashcans have black and white covers stapled to an existing coverless comic on the inside; other ashcans are totally black and white. In modern parlance, it can also refer to promotional or sold comics, often smaller than standard comic size and usually in black and white, released by publishers to advertise the forthcoming arrival of a new title or story.
Comics published from approximately 1946-1956.
Black and white.
BAD GIRL ART
A term popularized in the early '90s to describe an attitude as well as a style of art that portrays women in a sexual and often action-oriented way.
A high quality, heavy, white paper used in the printing of some comics.
Abbreviation for Back Cover.
Published every two months.
Published every two weeks.
The method of holding pages or sheets together. Can be as simple as stapling, but most often refers to a "hard" binding or covers. This type of binding may be covered with cloth, various leathers, or paper over boards.
A colorless impression that is embossed on paper or on the cloth or leather binding of a book. When it is found on the binding, it is typically for decorative purposes. On a print or photograph, it is used as a distinguishing mark of the artist, publisher, or former owner.
The stiff material used to manufacture hardcover books. Early published books (c. 1600) often used actual wooden boards for binding. Modern books commonly use cardboard covered in paper or cloth.
Usually, a label placed in a book to indicate ownership. Most bookplates are decorative, often with the intent of portraying some insight into personality of the book's owner. An author's bookplate can add value to a book by making it an association copy and an autographed bookplate is often used for limited editions.
A series of smaller publications that have been bound into a book. The process requires that the spine be trimmed and sometimes sewn into a book-like binding.
A severe condition of paper deterioration where paper loses its flexibility and thus chips and/or flakes easily.
A large (larger than 4to) poster, banner, or flier printed on one side only. Usually contains text with few, if any, graphic images, and used as an announcement or an advertisement. Related to the handbill, the brochure, and the pamphlet.
Comics published from approximately 1970 through 1985.
The aging of paper characterized by the ever-increasing level of oxidation characterized by darkening; The level of paper deterioration one step more severe than tanning and one step before brittleness.
A showy, but inferior and worthless thing. This includes all fakes, reproductions and fantasy items.
The style of photograph that was universally adopted for photographic portraiture in about 1870. It consists of a thin photograph (most often an albumen print) mounted on a card measuring approximately 4 1/4" x 6 1/2". They often include logos and information to advertise the photographer's services on the lower front border and/or the verso of the card Cabinet cards were popular from the late 1860s until about 1900.
CARTE DE VISITE (CDV)
A type of photograph adopted in America from about 1860 consisting of (usually) an albumen photographic print measuring 2.125" x 3.5" mounted on a card sized 2.5" x 4" (the size of a visiting card). Their immense popularity led to the publication and collection of photographs of prominent people; albums were produced for their storage and display. The larger cabinet cards supplanted CDVs starting in the early 1870s.
Abbreviation for Comics Code Authority.
An emblem that was placed on the cover of all CCA approved comics beginning in April-May, 1955.
semi-synthetic plastic patented in 1869 by brothers John and Isaiah Hyatt, composed of cellulose nitrate and camphor. Easily molded, it was used in a variety of commercial applications including as a replacement for ivory, until it became obsolete in the 1940s with the introduction of plastics.
CENTERFOLD or CENTER SPREAD
The two folded pages in the center of a publication at the terminal end of the staples.
A process provided by a professional grading service that certifies a given grade for a collectible and seals the item in a protective Slab.
Abbreviation for the certified comic book grading company, Comics Guaranty, LLC.
A method for making multi-color prints. The process is chemical; an image is applied to a stone or zinc plate with a grease-based crayon (limestone and zinc are two commonly used materials). After the image is drawn onto stone, another stone is inked with oil based paints or greasy pens, and pressed against the stone containing the image. A different stone is required for each color, and each color must be applied one at a time. Once the colors have been applied, the stone with the complete colored image is pressed against a sheet of paper. Each sheet of paper will pass through the press as many times as there are colors in the final print. Popularized in America from 1860 by Louis Prang and was the process of choice for producing cigar labels until about 1920.
A cover considered by collectors to be highly desirable because of its subject matter, artwork, historical importance, etc.
The buckling or waviness of a flat surface. On paper, this is usually caused by water damage or fold memory.
Any item that has been manufactured for the purpose of sale or trade specifically to collectors.
A brief description usually located at the end of a book, describing production notes relevant to the edition. In many cases, it is a description of the text typography identifying the names of the primary typefaces used, etc. It may also identify the book's designer, software used, printing method, the printing company, and the kind of ink, paper, and its cotton content. Detailed colophons are a characteristic feature of limited edition and private press printing. If a book has a colophon, it may appear either on the same page as the copyright information, or at the back of the volume. In early printed books the colophon follows the final words of the text. A less frequent use of the term is for a printer's mark or logotype.
A restoration process by which colored ink is used to hide color flecks, color flakes, and larger areas of missing color. Short for Color Touch-Up.
COMIC BOOK REPAIR
When a tear, loose staple or centerfold has been mended without changing or adding to the original finish of the book. Repair may involve tape, glue or nylon gossamer, and is easily detected; it is considered a defect.
COMICS CODE AUTHORITY
A voluntary organization comprised of comic book publishers formed in 1954 to review (and possibly censor) comic books before they were printed and distributed. The emblem of the CCA is a white stamp in the upper right hand corner of comics dated after February 1955. The term "post-Code" refers to the time after this practice started, or approximately 1955 to the present.
All issues of a given title.
A convention or public gathering of fans.
The state of preservation of a collectible, often inaccurately used interchangeably with Grade.
The reflective quality of the cover inks.
Cover has been reduced in size by neatly cutting away rough 944 or damaged edges.
A publication with no cover attached.
Abbreviation for Cleaned and Pressed.
CROSSOVER or X-Over
A story where one character appears prominently in the story of another character.
DS (Document Signed)
Printed or handwritten by another, but signed by the specified person.
The world's first practical photographic process invented by Louis-Jacques Mandé Daguerre in 1839 where the photograph was produced by treating a copper plate with a light-sensitized surface coating of silver iodide. A daguerreotype is distinctive for its highly polished silver support and its quality of appearing either as a negative or positive, depending on the angle and light from which it is viewed. Daguerreotypes are light sensitive and fragile, and are usually stored in cases for protection. They were used until about 1860.
A stain, usually a brownish color, resulting from water or other liquid damage to a book or paper item.
Process by which harmful acids are neutralized in paper, chiefly by the application of an alkaline agent such as calcium carbonate. Acidic paper, especially when exposed to light, air pollution, or high relative humidity, yellows and becomes brittle over time. Deacidification neutralizes the existing acid and helps prevent further decay.
the rough uneven edges naturally present in early handmade papers, generally observed in newspapers and magazines printed before about 1830. In modern times, the effect can be produced artificially by machines.
A blemish which detracts from the appearance and appeal of an item; the monetary value is often reduced for effective items according to the extent of the defect. Includes cracks, fading, foxing, off center, scratches, splits, spots, stains, and yellowing.
Areas or edges precut by a printer to a special shape or to create a desired effect.
In modern times, documents and important papers are usually kept flat in a file folder; in earlier times, they were folded multiple times (usually to the size that would easily fit into a modern envelope) and a summary of what the content entailed was written at the top of the back on the short edge. This summary is called the docketing information and it sometimes contains important details about the item. Occasionally, a signature or endorsement will be found there.
When two covers are stapled to a publication interior instead of the usual one; the exterior cover often protects the interior cover from wear and damage. This is considered a desirable situation by some collectors and may increase collector value.
Printed with black and one other color of ink. This process was common in comics printed in the 1930s.
DUST JACKET (DJ) or DUST WRAPPER
A decorative piece of paper wrapped around modern books to protect their binding. The absence of a dust jacket on a book that was originally issued with one lowers its value, sometimes as much as 90%.
Darker, usually linear area at the edge of some comics stored in stacks. Some portion of the cover was not covered by the comic immediately above it and it was exposed to settling dust particles. Also see Oxidation Shadow and Sun Shadow.
In printmaking, the total number of prints made and approved by an artist, usually numbered consecutively
An electrolytic casting process used to copy a block or plate into a metal facsimile. Wood engravings made for book illustration in the late nineteenth century were printed mainly from electrotypes rather than the original wood, which might have deteriorated over the run.
A very large book or print with a height between 15.25" and 23".
A publication cover with a pattern, shape or image pressed into the cover from the inside, creating a raised area.
Refers to the process of sealing certified collectibles in a protective plastic enclosure. Also see "Slabbing."
Any item that is held within a frame.
The piece of paper that, when pasted to the boards, attaches the book to its binding. One side is stuck to the board (the pastedown) and the other is free (the free endpaper). The right / left position of pastedown and free end papers are reversed front and back.
Usually used in reference to paper collectibles. The definition of ephemera is "developed for very short life or duration." When applying this term to collectibles, it comes to mean items that were only meant to be around for a short while, but somehow have survived long past their useful life.
A term which refers to the overall look of a collectible when held at approximately arm's length. May differ from actual condition on closer inspection.
Adefect common to collectibles that have been over-exposed to sunlight. Adversely affects value.
A general term referring to a non-original item made primarily to fool collectors. Related terms include fantasy piece, re-run, reproductions and re-strike.
An item purporting to be authentic, but which did not exist in any form at the time of supposed production.
An amateur fan publication.
A high grade publication originating from the publisher's file; contrary to popular opinion, not all file copies are in Mint condition.
The first published appearance of a book. To book collectors, it is shorthand for first edition, first printing.
A blank leaf (or leaves) inserted during the binding process between the free end paper and the beginning or end of the printed pages.
A comic book cover that has had a thin metallic foil hot stamped on it. Many of these "gimmick" covers date from the early '90s, and might include chromium, prism and hologram covers as well.
A large size newspaper, print, or book. Usually applied to items between 12.25" and 15" tall.
FOUR COLOR PROCESS
The process of printing with the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) plus black.
An undesirable brownish patchy or spotty discoloration on paper and celluloid items due to interaction of chemicals in the paper with moisture.
FRONTISPIECE or FRONTIS
A plate or illustration at the front of the book, usually facing the title page. Frontispieces are often of much higher quality than the rest of the illustrations in a book. The absence of a frontispiece sometimes indicates a later printing of the book.
Illustration system in which individual frames of a film are colored and used for individual panels to make a comic book story. The most famous example is DC's Movie Comics #1-6 from 1939.
A double-width fold-out cover.
Categories of subject matter; e.g. Science Fiction, Super-Hero, Romance, Funny Animal, Teenage Humor, Crime, War, Western, Mystery, Horror, etc.
Gold leaf that has been applied to the binding or page edges of a book.
Type of collectible intended to be given away as a premium or promotional device instead of being sold.
Comics published from approximately 1938 (Action Comics #1) to 1945.
GOOD GIRL ART
Refers to a style of art, usually from the 1930s-1950s, that portrays women in a sexually implicit way.
opaque watercolors used for illustrations
A cover art style in which pencil or charcoal underlies the normal line drawing, used to enhance the effects of light and shadow, thus producing a richer quality. These covers, prized by most collectors, are sometimes referred to as Painted Covers but are not actually painted.
A page in a book bearing the title only and preceding the full title page.
Small printed sheet, quarto or smaller, to be distributed by hand and used for advertising.
Abbreviation for Hardback.
The paper or tape used to affix a print to a backing.
A document that is written by hand in its entirety by the person whose signature it bears.
The process of pressing foil, prism paper and/or inks on paper cover stock.
Abbreviation for Illustration.
A manuscript in which the text has added to it decorated initials, borders, or miniature painted illustrations.
Any printed object, from a single sheet broadside to a set of books. The term is also used to indicate the source of a published item, such as is found at the bottom of the title page of a book.
Lettering or a design that has been stamped or punched into an item; opposite of raised.
Publishing and title information usually located at the bottom of the first page or the bottom of the inside front cover. In rare cases and in some pre-1938 comics, it was sometimes located on internal pages.
INTEGRAL (ADDRESS) LEAF
Most letter or notepaper of the 18th and 19th centuries consisted of a large sheet folded once vertically into a booklet of four pages (sometimes called a bifolia). The letter (document, etc.) would be written first on what was essentially the cover page and then continued inside (or on the back). Before manufactured envelopes came into wide use in the 1850s, these lettersheets were then folded, sealed with wax, addressed, and posted. In this situation, the original address information (often in the notable person's handwriting) and any postal markings show up in the center of the back of the folder or on what's called the integral address leaf.
Collectible of sufficiently high grade and demand to be viewed by collectors as instantly liquid should the need arise to sell; usually Very Fine or better condition.
KEY, KEY BOOK or KEY ISSUE
A comic book issue that contains a first appearance, origin, or other historically or artistically important feature considered especially desirable by collectors.
A handmade paper showing the parallel lines of the papermaking frame, visible when held up to the light.
A sheet of any written or printed material, especially in a manuscript or book.
An item - especially a book or print - where the publication is restricted to a certain number of copies. Limited editions are often signed and numbered by the author; books can have a colophon indicating the total number of books printed.
Prints and broadsides made using the lithograph printing process in which chemical processes are used to create the image from a flat stone.
A bindery (trimming/ cutting) defect that results in a series of chips and tears at the top, bottom, and right edges of the cover, caused when the cutting blade of an industrial paper trimmer becomes dull. It was dubbed Marvel Chipping because it can be found quite often on Marvel comics from the late '50s and early '60s but can also occur with any company's comic books from the late 1940s through the middle 1960s.
A print made by a method of intaglio printing that involves roughening the surface of the (usually copper) plate so that it prints black, then working the plate from darker to lighter values by scraping and burnishing.
A catch-all term usually applied to comics published from the 1980s to the present.
An inert, very hard, space-age plastic used to make high quality protective bags and sleeves for comic book storage.
No issue number is given on the cover or indicia page of a comic book; these are usually first issues or one-shots.
This indicates an item that did not sell at auction because it did not receive bids equal to or greater than the reserve (minimum bid) amount set by the consignor.
The front side of an item, the opposite of reverse.
When only one issue is published of a title, or when a series is published where each issue is a different title (e.g. Dell's Four Color Comics).
Books that are no longer printed and which are no longer available from the publisher.
When a collectible is priced at a value over Guide list.
Darker, usually linear area at the edge of some publications stored in stacks. Some portion of the cover was not covered by the item immediately above it, and it was exposed to the air. Also see Dust Shadow and Sun Shadow.
Comic book cover taken from an actual painting instead of a line drawing.
One who researches comic books and/or comic strips.
Comic book cover made from the same newsprint as the interior pages. These books are extremely rare in high grade.
Abbreviation for Paperback.
A collectible from a famous and usually high grade collection.
Pages are glued to the cover as opposed to being stapled to the cover, resulting in a flat binded side. Also known as Square Back or Square Bound.
Abbreviation for Page.
Comic book cover featuring a photographic image instead of a line drawing or painting.
A photomechanical process that reproduces all gradations of black through white on an intaglio metal plate.
Comics published from approximately 1900-1938.
A type of plastic used in the manufacture of comic book bags; now considered harmful to paper and not recommended for long term storage of comics.
Describes comics published after February 1955 and usually displaying the CCA stamp in the upper right hand corner. In film, after the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code in 1934.
Paper bill or sign for posting in a public place, especially one that is decorative or pictorial.
Abbreviation for Pages.
In comic books, those published before the Comics Code Authority seal began appearing on covers in 1955. In film, before the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code in 1934 (adopted in 1930 but with limited influence until 1934).
Something given away free or at a reduced price with the purchase of a product or service.
The ownership history of a collectible. Can include information of the origin and/or a list of the chain of ownership. Ex-collection indicates that the named person was a recent owner.
Paper made with cellulose wood tissue, which is then bleached. It is highly unstable because of the short fiber length and the high lignin content. Can also refer to an inexpensive fiction magazines published from the 1920s to the 1950s
A Qualified grade is used when a publication has a significant defect that would otherwise prevent giving the highest possible grade.
Published every three months (four times a year).
Paper made of cotton or linen fibers instead of wood pulp. This paper is stronger and more durable due to its low acidity and long paper fibers. When properly cared for, is capable of surviving the passage of time.
10-20 copies estimated to exist.
A book in poor condition that is better suited for reading than collecting. It may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted, and have loose hinges or pages, but it must have a complete and readable text.
Book-length, vertical front cover crease at staples, caused by bending the cover over the staples. Squarebounds receive these creases just by opening the cover too far to the left.
In earlier decades, comic books that contained newspaper strip reprints; modern reprint comics usually contain stories originally featured in older comic books.
Any attempt, whether professional or amateur, to enhance the appearance of an aging or damaged collectible. These procedures may include any or all of the following techniques: recoloring, adding missing paper, stain, ink, dirt or tape removal, whitening, pressing out wrinkles, staple replacement, trimming, re-glossing, etc. Amateur work can lower the value of an item, and even professional restoration has now gained a certain negative aura in the modern marketplace from some quarters. In all cases, except for some simple cleaning procedures, a restored collectible can never be worth the same as an unrestored item in the same condition.
Display cases used for storing a collection of small items such as campaign buttons. The cases have a heavy cardboard frame, a clear glass cover, and cotton padding inside.
A spine condition caused by folding back pages while reading.
Standard saddle stitch binding typical of most comics.
A group of items in a series where most or all of the numbered items are present. See Complete Run.
SP (SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH)
Photo picturing and signed by the specified person
The staple binding of magazines and comic books.
20-100 copies estimated to exist.
SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT (SOTI)
An inflammatory book written by Dr. Frederic Wertham and published in 1953; Wertham asserted that comics were responsible for rampant juvenile delinquency in American youth.
An overall brown (with tinges of red) tone in a photograph as opposed to black.
A complete run of a given series; or a group of two or more items issued at the same time by one source that are related.
Published twice a month, but not necessarily Bi-Weekly.
A fine art screen-print using a stencil process.
A comic with many spine perforations where binders' thread held it into a bound volume. This is considered a defect.
Comics published from approximately 1956 (Showcase #4) to 1969.
A black and white actual size print on thick glossy paper hand painted by an artist to indicate colors to the engraver.
Colloquial term for the plastic enclosure used by grading certification companies to seal in certified collectibles.
Colloquial term for the process of encapsulating certified and/or graded collectibles in a plastic enclosure.
A box with one open side, into which a book or group of imprints are placed for protection and storage on a shelf with books.
Abbreviation for Seduction of the Innocent.
The left-hand edge of a publication that has been folded and stapled. or part that is outwardly visible when shelved and generally bears the title, author, and often the name of the publisher
A condition where the left edge of the comic book curves toward the front or back, caused by folding back each page as the comic was read.
A Splash Panel that takes up an entire comic book page.
The first panel of a comic book story, usually larger than other panels and usually containing the title and credits of the story; An oversized interior panel.
A comic book sent through the mail directly from the publisher or distributor Most are folded in half, causing a subscription crease or fold running down the center of the comic from top to bottom; this is considered a defect.
Darker, usually linear area at the edge of some comics stored in stacks. Some portion of the cover was not covered by the comic immediately above it, and it suffered prolonged exposure to light. A serious defect, unlike a Dust Shadow, which can sometimes be removed. Also see Oxidation Shadow.
SUNNED or SUNNING
The discoloration or fading of a book's binding or dust jacket, usually at the spine or edges, by exposure to light.
A panel, sequence, or story obviously borrowed from previously published material.
A drawing or small panel in a text story that almost never has a dialogue balloon.
A page with no panels or drawings.
A story with few if any illustrations commonly used as filler material during the first three decades of comics.
Comic art that is drawn and printed in two color layers, producing a 3-D effect when viewed through special glasses.
When an illustration, bookplate, letter, photograph or some object is attached to the page of a book by its corners or one side, usually by glue or paste.
First page of a story showing the title of the story and possibly the creative credits and indicia.
TLS (Typed Letter Signed)
A letter typed or computer-printed and signed by the specified person.
TNS (Typed Note Signed)
A short note typed or computer-printed and signed by the specified person.
TOP EDGE GILT (T.E.G.)
The top edges of a book's pages have a thin layer of gold leaf applied.
An exact copy of the full text of a document with no alterations or changes often produced at a later date from the original on file. Will sometimes be notated as such by the clerk making the copy
When a collectible is priced at a value less than Guide list.
To obtain a duplicate of the same collectible in a higher grade.
A different comic book image used on the same issue. Also, used in limited edition book publishing.
1 to 10 copies estimated to exist.
A sketch or word picture that shades off gradually into the surrounding paper
A listing of items needed by a collector, or a list of items that a collector is interested in purchasing.
Originating from a publisher's warehouse; similar to file copy.
A distinguishing mark on a sheet of paper made during its manufacture by variations in pulp thickness. Visible when held to the light, it may appear as a symbol, monogram, date, or company name.
A relief printmaking method. The design is cut out with a knife or gouge from wood and ink is then applied to the raised surfaces. Historically, the oldest printmaking method.
A condition seen in new or old celluloid buttons in which the synthetic covering develops a yellowed appearance
Short for Fanzine. Also, an independent or small-press magazine.