Item 1 - Letter from R. W. Chapman to R. B. McKerrow

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Letter from R. W. Chapman to R. B. McKerrow


  • 17 Aug. 1924 (Creation)

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Wensleydale.—Submits some queries about imposition which have arisen in compiling a bibliography of Dodsley’s Collection.



In Wensleydale

My dear McKerrow

In working at a bibliography of Dodsley’s Collectionsof Poems by several Hands I have struck difficulties about imposition, and should be grateful for advice.

The original work in 3 vols. 1748 (reprinted 1748, 1751) is a duodecimo of the ordinary kind. It was imposed ‘for cutting’; a conclusion suggested to me by the fact that a whole forme (ex hypothesi) is wrongly paged, and confirmed by the watermarks, which fall on the seventh and eighth or on the eleventh and twelfth leaves (or on both pairs when there were 2 watermarks; 2 different papers were used). There are numerous cancels; and I was pleased to find my conclusions from examination of stubs etc. very prettily confirmed by the w.-marks.

The chain-lines are horizontal.

But my difficulty begins with Vols. IV (1755) and V–VI (1758). They are uniform with the earlier volumes, but are in eights. The chain-lines being (in V, VI) horizontal. I assumed that the books were 16o printed in half-sheets, so that each sheet yielded two copies of an 8-leaf quire. This would mean the use of a paper of an unusual size; but it may have occurred to Dodsley that he could economize by getting an extra four pages on to each forme.

But while reposing in this hypothesis I discovered that some of the chain-lines are vertical!

In Vol. IV they are all vertical (and of course this volume may be 8o).

In Vol. V 19 signatures, & 2 prelim. leaves, are horizontal; but A8 & C8 are vertical.

In Vol. VI 20 signatures + 2 prel. leaves are horizontal; but X8 vertical.

There are unfortunately no watermarks in these 3 volumes.

I do not know of any uncut copy. My copy of V is 6¾ x 4¼, and I suppose may have been nearly 7½ x 5 (7 x 4½ is a minimum). I cannot see what imposition would get this on to a sheet so nearly square that it could be put in either way indifferently.

Please don’t think of going to the Museum and hunting out these books. I trouble you with my difficulty only in the chance that it may be quite simple and that the solution may be already familiar.

I expect you are very busy with No I {1}—I wish it all success.

Yours sincerely
R. W. Chapman


Numbers in signatures and the 'o' in '16o' and '8o' are superscript in the original.

{1} The first number of the Review of English Studies.

† Sic.

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