Before you take a book apart to clean and mend the pages, re-do the sewing and provide a new binding, you've got to collate it. Modern books have page numbers to keep everything in order, but back in the good old days, conventions were different; the preface, dedication, introduction might be numbered with lower case Roman numerals or not at all.
|the signature is noted with an "A", the catchword corresponds to the first word on the next page|
|"And" bottom left corresponds to "And" on the top right|
Books are made up of many, many moving parts that need to fit together and while page numbers and signature marks may seem like enough to re-assemble all the pieces, it is better to be safe than staring at a pile of sheets and loose plates going hmmm....
|do you see the quill from someone cutting a new point?|
So, collating, in the conservation context, is a precise documentation of how each page fits into the overall sequence and structure of a book. It can seem a little painstaking to some, but I enjoy it. It is a great way to commune with a book that I am about to work on, learn something new, and notice all sorts of little details and surprises.