A sheet, in terms of bookbinding, refers to the large paper with the text written on it that was the content of the entire book itself. Upon folding the sheets into the proper order, the book was then bound and the tops of the folded edges were sometimes cut, making the individual leaves.
The sheet played an integral role in the bookbinding process. Allowing multiple pages of the book to be printed on one large sheet made printing more efficient. Depending on the folio, or format of the book, the range in price and the amount of pages on a single sheet varied greatly. If a book’s format were to be a ‘quarto’, for example, the sheet would contain four leaves and eight pages. This would come out to be more expensive and were usually found to be owned by the wealthy. However, if a book’s format was a ‘duodecimo’, the sheet would contain 12 leaves and 24 pages. These books were often condensed, cheap, small in size and often contained advertisements in them. It is apparent how much of an impact the sheet had in the process of bookbinding. It was essential in the overall construction of the book itself and expedited the manufacturing of the leaves and pages.
In order to keep track of the work the printer was doing and the order in which the pages were supposed to go in once folded, he would mark each page with a number. This allowed him to be sure that he was folding the sheet correctly. With a higher amount of pages on a sheet, it would obviously become increasingly difficult in arranging the sheet before binding.
Contributed by Logan Lafferty.