The terms we use to describe more than 2,000 items  for sale in the Great War Bookshop are as follows.

Poor describes a book that has clearly seen repeated use if not outright abuse and is in a state of disarray as a result. The cloth to its covers is worn or stained, its edges and corners rubbed, the cloth may be so worn that the interior of the boards are visible. Pages & plates may be missing and may or may not be tipped in.

Fair describes a Poor book that isn’t so rough that it is unpleasant to handle although it is certainly not going to be a decoration to your bookshelf. We sell books in poor quality if they have an intrinsic Great War interest, or for the benefit of customers who want to read them in an original edition rather than a modern reprint or print-on-demand alternative. We also recognise that, when it comes to the Great War, some readers don’t care about the state of a book only what it has to say.

Good describes a book that has seen repeated use and multiple owners but which retains its structural integrity and a degree of presentability. The binding of its pages will be secure if not tight. Its cloth and pages may be worn or stained but not to the point of disfigurement.

Very Good refers to a good, solid copy that is worth the price charged in relation to other copies on the market. The cloth to covers may show wear, especially to the edges, and there may be blemishes of a minor nature (which may be noted) but overall the book will pass muster in the company of any other second-hand book.

A Near Fine book shows the qualities of a Very Good one to a superior degree. It will show the minimal signs of previous ownership. Its corners may be very slightly rubbed or blunted but not badly bumped. There may be signs of tenderness to the top and bottom of the spine but there will be no damage, fraying or staining to the cloth without specific mention.

Fine, in this catalogue, describes a book that shows no blemishes caused by rough handling or promiscuous ownership. It indicates a book that has been carefully read and shelved by a previous owner such that it could hardly be in better condition even if it does show minor signs of ageing such as a touch of dust or faint yellowing due to age. 

As New refers to a book that shows no  evident sign of having been read.

The above grading of books applies also to their jackets, where there is one, except with a greater degree of generosity.  Almost any handling impinges on a jacket unless it is removed on purchase only to be replaced once the book it protects has been read.  Jackets are also more vulnerable to ageing and the effects of sunlight. As with books, the way we grade jackets takes their age into account with regard to similar examples on the market. Thus it is possible to find jackets graded VG even while edge-wear and price-clipping is noted. We may also grade a jacket as Near Fine if it shows one or two very minor closed tears to edges or corners. A closed tear in this context means one that is too small to warrant a repair because of its unobtrusiveness.

Some of our other descriptive terms:

Stressed hinge, describes a book’s hinge if the paper between the front pastedown and endpaper is stretched or if it shows a partial separation. A cracked hinge is one where the interior of the binding is made entirely visible. Binding, in our descriptions, does not refer to the book’s boards but to the degree of tightness in the structure by which the pages are contained in place. Foxing refers to those brown spots or patches where defects in the manufacture of the paper have been brought out by damp or other circumstances. Books about the Great War written during the Great War often had to be made out of inferior materials and it is often unrealistic for collectors to expect to find un-foxed examples. Full leather means the cover and spine of the book are all made of leather. Half leather means the book has a leather spine and corners. Great War books do occasionally appear in antiquarian-style leather boards but we are not antiquarian dealers and not expert in the various types of leather that may pertain.

Ex-lib means a book from a public lending library, or a commercial circulating library of the type common in Britain  until the middle of the last century or an institutional library such as that at a university or government department. We grade and price ex-lib books by the same criteria as any other and usually note the type of library whence they came.. Books bearing a private collector’s ex-libris bookplate or other such device are not described as ex-lib. Paperbacks, whether ex-lib or otherwise, are rarely described in detail unless of a particular interest or value..


Books weighing under one kilogramme when packed are shipped free to customers in the United Kingdom. Books weighing more than that or on the border-line, will incur postage , the cost of which will be signaled at the time of ordering. Shipping rates to all other countries are set out in our ‘Shopfront’ page which you can access by clicking onto the ABE website

To browse our catalogues  click here


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