For regular attendance, neatness and general excellence

Do you know why a fly leaf is called a fly leaf?

A clue I found in the dictionary (Webster’s) comes under one of the definitions of fly: Formerly, the person who took the sheets off the press.

But I have other ideas:

Is it because it often flies open, like a wing askance, as you turn the front cover?

Is it because it protects the important title page and frontispiece and body of the text from fly shit?

Is it because it is there to be written on with a flowing, flying hand, flourishes and all, the name of the owner, inscriptions and dedications?

Our latest pastime is poring over those labels glued into endpages and flyleafs that identify those among our vast collection of second hand books that are school prizes for neatness or regular attendance or general excellence. Sometimes, the titles chosen as prizes are apt but sometimes they are a wonderful mismatch!

Open each cover to see what’s flying on the flyleaf…

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Book words that take my fancy

Flyleaf the first or last page of a book that is next to the cover and has nothing printed on it.

Frontispiece a picture at the beginning of a book on the page opposite the title page

Bookplate a piece of paper with your name on it that you stick inside the front of a book that you own

Front matter the information at the beginning of the book before the main part starts

Recto a page on the right side of an open book

Verso a page on the left side of an open book

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