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A process by which a design is created in a piece of sheet material by engraved plates, either with one on each side or by a single plate impressed into a piece of sheet material over a soft support. Embossed covers were decorated before they were put onto the binding, and may have either format-specific designs intended to fit books of particular sizes or across the entire surface of a length of paper, bookcloth, etc., which can be used on books of any size.


The Arts and Architecture Thesaurus Online, The Getty Research Institute.

Additional reference: 
http://vocab.getty.edu/aat/300053826 (modified)
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