First things last—a fitting introduction

Prefatory materials set a tone and introduce the book to the reader. In the hand-press period, the introductory materials were often among the last pages to be printed.

A printer would understand the advantages in keeping that material to one gathering. The First Folio’s printers did not anticipate the full scope of the dedicatory poems and prefaces to be included. These preliminaries are irregular, and include one and a half extra sheets. We can think about this irregularity as a window into the ways the printers solved problems posed by the preliminaries.

In this title page from the 1632 Second Folio, the engraved portrait and the printed text are misaligned or “mis-registered” as a result of being printed on two different presses.

An engraved portrait of the author on the title page signaled the significance of this collection of plays. An author portrait also required some additional problem-solving in the print shop. An engraving had to be printed on a different kind of press than that used to print text with movable type. The printers ran half-sheets of paper through a rolling press for the engraved author portrait after the text was printed on a common press.

In this final set of exercises, the sheets are already put together. Two of them must be nested together in a particular way, because the text flows from one page to the next. One page has the Ben Jonson poem inviting readers to “looke / Not on his Picture, but his Booke.” This poem requires the page to be positioned facing the portrait, which is on a half-sheet. And there is yet another printed sheet of poems that has no clear indications of where it should go. How did the printers integrate these extra pages into the introductory materials? There are two solutions found in various copies.

Preliminaries Solution #1

As you have done before, drag and drop the sheets into position on the gathering diagram. What to do with the extra sheet and a half? The first solution is to anchor the half sheet and whole sheet together. Insert the half sheet with the portrait between 1v and 2r. Insert the full sheet in between 5v and 6r. If you have trouble, you can click “Auto-gather” to have the sheets placed in the gathering diagram automatically.

3|4 (inner)
3|4 (outer)
2|5 (inner)
5|2 (outer)
1|6 (inner)
1|6 (outer)

Gathering πA6 (πA1+1, πA5+1.2)