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#1
Old 03-30-2005, 04:36 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 3,475
Okay to cut uncut pages in old books?

Sometimes I'll encounter a book (usually an oldish one) with an uncut page or two. (FYI, multiple book pages are printed on a large sheet, then folded into a little bundle called a signature; all the signatures are bound together in sequence, then three of the four sides of the pile are trimmed to cut away the top, bottom and right-side folds. If a fold lands inside the trim edge it stays uncut.)

I just purchased a 100 year-old booklet (24 pages) with several uncut pages, making the booklet difficult (but not impossible) to read.

Is it a big no-no among bibliophiles or book collectors to cut uncut pages? Were books purposely made that way "back in the day," for customers to cut themselves? If so, would cutting my pages somehow tarnish the booklet's authenticity?
#2
Old 03-30-2005, 05:24 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 41,665
I suspect that some will feel that it lowers the value of the books. Otherwise, I don't see any problem with it.

I doubt if they "made it that way" -- uncut pages are almost c ertainly an artifact of the day when it wasn't easy to make reliable cut edges.


My copy of Burton's co9mplete "Arabian Nights" has lots of uncut pages. I've been cutting them as I go along. Otherwise, I can't read the damned books!
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#3
Old 03-30-2005, 06:06 PM
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Location: Montana, U.S.A.
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No, it wasn't intentional. In fact, it still happens from time to time, although it's gotten pretty rare.

If you have an extremely valuable collector's edition of a book, then I wouldn't mess with it at all. Since you're reading it and you didn't mention gloves or special storage vaults, I assume that's not the case.

If it's just a typical 100-year-old book--worth at most a couple of hundred dollars--go ahead and (carefully) cut the pages apart. It won't affect the value at all.
#4
Old 03-30-2005, 06:23 PM
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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
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I worked for several years in a used book store. Generally, making any alteration in the original condition of a 'collectible' printed item will reduce its value. If you don't view this booklet as an investment, cut away. But if you believe it to be of value to collectors, and hope to profit from its sale, it's best to leave it in its original, uncut form.
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