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A Bibliographical Note from the Beaumont and Fletcher First Folio
Guy A. Battle

In the Beaumont and Fletcher first folio (1647) there are examples of a little-used type of bibliographical evidence: that of progressive changes in the boxlines. The boxlines were apparently made up of a number of flexible pieces which often were bent by the pressure of the furniture in a slightly different way each time they were set up with type. Consequently, a number of minute changes, which progressively developed as the boxlines were used, may be discerned. Because of the flexibility of these rules their evidence is tenuous, but often they will provide a clue as to forme-order or a support for other evidence. Indeed, sometimes even considered alone, this evidence cannot very well be ignored.

For example, in the fifth section of the folio, one set of boxlines had a break in the top line, left side (with respect to the type). This remained constant for many printings, but on 5R2r the gap was pushed together so that the rules overlapped. Then, on 5R3r the rules were evidently wedged down by the furniture and remained in this position, unchanged, for printing many subsequent formes. Under a glass the progressive change is obvious and definite.

It is probable, then, that at this point the outer forme was printed before the inner forme. (One other small progressive change also supports this assumption.) Also, by the same kind of evidence two quite obvious forme sequences are indicated: that the inner forme of the outer sheet of 5P was


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printed before the outer forme of the inner sheet of 5Q and that the outer forme of the outer sheet of 5R was impressed before the outer forme of the middle sheet of 5S (a gathering of three sheets).

A close scrutiny of alterations in the rules that form boxlines, in conjunction with a study of their running-titles, will often, perhaps, reveal clues as to forme-order and provide valuable controls at certain points in bibliographical studies.