Bound-with, nonce, tract, pamphlet volume, and Sammelband

To save money and space many early book owners gathered up a number of separately published items and bound them together. Sometimes there was a theme, sometimes it was simply that everything was of a similar size, and occasionally the contents appear to be random.

These volumes are referred to by various names. In the Bodleian, the preferred term is ‘bound-with’, and more than one hundred thousand volumes of separately published printed books, pamphlets, dissertations and single sheets are bound this way. Bodleian shelfmarks that include a bracket indicate there are several items bound together. For example, ‘Arch. G d.45 (2)’ is the second item in the binding, while ‘4° E 33(10) Th.’ is the tenth.

There are other common terms used for ‘bound-withs’ including pamphlet volume, tract, nonce and Sammelbänd, and they are sometimes used interchangeably. However, some of these terms have a more precise meaning too.

‘Pamphlet volume’ is a broad term for all bindings made up of multiple printed pamphlets. What is a pamphlet? George Orwell said ‘the question is rather like asking, “What is a dog”?’ and in a similar vein a pamphlet volume can contain an extremely wide range of material.

‘Sammelband’ means ‘anthology’ or ‘omnibus’ and usually denotes the contents of the same binding have a connected theme. More narrowly, it describes early modern bindings containing both printed and manuscript items.

‘Tract’ is a short treatise on a single subject, usually polemical (often vituperative), intended to be cheaply produced and widely distributed. Many of Luther’s works are tracts and the Bodleian has an entire collection called ‘Tractatus Lutherani’. Their low production values and brevity made them idea candidates for binding together.

‘Nonce’ volume describes separately published pamphlets that were gathered up and reissued as a collection by a bookseller from surplus stock, usually with a newly printed collective title page.

More information:

  1. Suarez, Michael F., and H. R. Woudhuysen. The Oxford Companion to the Book. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010.
  2. Carter, John, Nicolas Barker, and Simran Thadani. John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors. Ninth Edition / Revised by Nicolas Barker & Simran Thadani. ed. New Castle, Delaware, 2016