Glossary of Printing Terms:
Facsimile

  1. Term derived from the Latin generally used to describe the most natural possible reproduction of an original (image, handwriting, book) complete with all its characteristics including dirty marks, damage or traces of use.

This is the highest degree of similarity which a reproduction can achieve in comparison to the original, whereby nothing is added, omitted or improved.

Copyists in the Middle Ages were already trying to achieve reproductions of texts and books which were true to the originals by writing them out and illustrating them by hand.

The first full facsimiles date from the early 17th century, and were engraved in copper. Facsimiles were also produced using the wood engraving method. T

he invention of lithography in the late 18th century and collotype in the mid 19th century made facsimiles as we understand them today possible.

  1. A copy that looks like the original printing of a book but is not original. Facsimiles can be a source of frustration to collectors and booksellers but are acceptable for some institutional library collections.

The term can also refer to one or more pages or illustrations that have been reproduced or copied to replace parts of the book that are missing.

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