A colophon is a statement at the back of a book that provides details about its publication, such as place and year of release. A colophon may also serve to thank those involved with its creation or make brief remarks about its contents.
The term “colophon” derives from Greek κολοφών, meaning “summit” or “finishing touch”. Initially used to refer to a statue placed at the highest point of a building, over time its use expanded further as symbolic finishing touches of any kind were also recognized by Latin speakers and eventually English.
William Caxton first used the word “colophon” in English for the first time in 1480; however, the term did not become widely popular until after 17th century printing had taken place. At first, this might have been essential in providing information about who had printed and when and where books had been produced; with copyright pages becoming more prevalent however; its usage has decreased since. Though still occasionally employed today in books focused on design or printing.
Colophons have long been an integral component of books and publishing. Readers use them to identify the source of a book and often gain important information about its author, illustrator, or publisher. Many consider the colophon a symbol of quality for their collection – it often becomes part of its prideful display!
A colophon is a short statement at the end of a publication, typically providing details about its production or other information about its content. The word colophon comes from Greek κολοφών meaning “summit” or “finishing touch”.
A colophon typically contains information about the publication’s authors, editors, illustrators, printers and binders. This data is invaluable for readers wanting to trace its provenance or scholars conducting research on individual authors or illustrators.