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Re: Thinking in Octavo



To Mike Oltz:  kudos and good thoughts!  My wonder in how can an octavo
be considered folio based on its size alone?  A near impossibility as far
as I'm concerned!  Proper spelling for a 4-fold sheet is sextodecimo and
the result is 16/32 as you said.  Excellent work!

As for the ISO "A" designation its an attempt to standardize the paper
producing industry whose work produced everything from foolscap to
double elephant prior to any attempts at establishing standards.  Why
the King cherished his foot, yard and furlong is beyond me, since the
former are both to this day guarded in the Royal Treasury at the
Tower of London, I mean wouldn't his or her majesty's have desired a
uniform book size rather than having to go to the Royal printers and
request x in foolscap octavo  and x in demi octavo and even x in
crown folio?  Hence the attempts by the continent to standardize.

Three series comprise the ISO standard:  A, B and C
A is used in standard printing and stationary and is 1189 x 841 mm or
  47.5 x 33.6"   A0 to A7 are the sizes associated with the folds where
  A0 = the unfolded sheet  A1= one fold or folio  A2= two folds or quarto
  A3= is three folds of octavo, A4= four folds and the elusive sextodecimo.
  but smaller folds persist all the way to A7 or 7 folds.

Ergo, the number following the letter clues the reader in as to how many
times the sheet was folded to produce the leaves of the book.  Better
yet knowing that if the printer printers quarto and the folder folds
octavo problems will arise.  And it goes to reason that the printer
determines how many chase can be applied to the page.  Size of
engravings etc., also affect how a sheet will be utilized.  Its all
interesting stuff and quite fascinating.

BTW  ISO "B" class is 1414 x 1000mm (56.6 x 40") and is used primarily
for maps, charts and posters  -- fan-folds and folio or quarto mostly.

"C" class is 1297 x 917mm (51.9 x 36.7") and is used primarily for
envelopes and the eccentric folds required to make them.

I hope this helps and may I recommend Johnson's "Thames and Hudson Manual of
Bookbinding" as well as Cockerell's "Bookbinding and the Care of Books"

Just remember, the A0-7 and the B0-3 folds are just the number of folds
(half-folds as they essentially divide the page in "half" after each fold
is completed) that result in the size.  And it is A5 (210 x 148mm or
8.4 x 5.9") that best approximates the octavo fold in the "old" method
of sheet sizing.  Such as crown octavo is 7.5 x 5"  and demy octavo
is 8.5 x 5.5" for the sizes of each in 8vo. approximate the A5.

Regards and I hope I got it all right.
Rommel John Miller
the wannabe binder with the never-ending fascination.


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