like any industry, the used book business has a lingo all its own. back in the "good 'ol days" when bookdealers were a lot more haughty than nowadays, people were judged on their knowledge of this stuff. one of the very useful results of the internet is that about 80% of this unnecessarily vague language has been done away with.
just for fun, here is an actual ca1900 book catalog description. give yourself a gold star if you can figure out what all the abbreviations mean!
Landor, A. Henry Savage. IN THE FORBIDDEN LAND. AN ACCOUNT OF A JOURNEY INTO TIBET. 2 vols. 1st ed. NY & L: Harper, 1899, xvi+307, xii+250pp, 8vo. 58 pls, num txt illus and 1 fold map. Or cl, sl rbd, first leaves of vol 1 sl fxd, ow VG, t.e.g.
Samoin (meaning: the same!), and thank you for the explanation. The book is the slipcased edition of the Sarnoff biography by Lyons (of which I also have the common one, signed by Sarnoff himself)
Collecting Titanic and liner books for fifteen years (hey, I ordered my first, "Titanic and Her Era" exactly then, in 1987!), I think I have gotten pretty good at book abbreviations. Let me try to tackle the task you set:
2 volumes, 1st edition, New York and L...:, Harper, 1899, preface of 16 pages + 307 pages in the first volume and preface of 12 pages and 250 pages in the second, the book size is octavo, 58 plates, numerous illustrations in the text and a folding map. *Or* closed, slightly rubbed, first leaves of volume slightly foxed, otherwise very good, top edge gilt.
The Or is the only one that leaves me buffed, and I am not sure if L stands for Lansing or some other place.
Not quite a gold star, but pretty good for a foreigner, huh?