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I. The Three States of the General Title-Page of the First Edition

Greg distinguished two states of the general title-page of Fragmenta Aurea, 1646 (sig. πA2). Recording seventeen copies of the one he identified as (*1) and eight copies of (τ1), he not unreasonably suggested that "it is natural to assume that the less common variant (τ1) was an attempt to improve on the original rather untidy setting" (*1). But it is demonstrable that there were three states, as transcribed below, and that the direction of change was the opposite of the one Greg suggested. The three states, which we designate as (A), (B), and (C), the first corresponding with Greg's (τ1), the second and third with his (*1), are as follows, in the order of their printing:

  • (A) FRAGMENTA AVREA. ∣ A Collection of all ∣ THE ∣ Incomparable Peeces, ∣ WRITTEN ∣ By Sir JOHN SVCKLING. ∣ And published by a Friend to perpetuatehis memory. ∣ Printed by his owne Copies. ∣ LONDON, ∣ Printed for Humphrey Moſeley, and are to be ∣ ſold at his ſhop, at the Signe of the Prin-∣ces Armes in St Pauls Churchyard. ∣ MDCXLVI.
  • (B) Fragmenta Aurea. ∣ [&c. as above] Churchyard ∣ MDCXLVI. [imperfect printing of "d" in "Churchyard"; without period after "d" and rule under date]
  • (C) Fragmenta Aurea. ∣ [&c. as above] Churchyard. ∣ MDCXLVI.
  • Copies: (A) CLU-C1 (1646), CSmH2 (121942), CtY4 (646), DLC, ICN, MiU, NN1 (Jones), NNPM, Bodleian1 (Don.e.15), Pforz2 (996), TxU3 (Hanley), ViU

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  • (B) CSmH1 (110163), CtY3 (646a cop. 3), B.M.1-3 (Grenville, 1076.h.20, Ashley), Bodleian2 (Vet.A.3.e.814), TxU2 (Wh cop. 2), Clayton
  • (C) CLU-C2-3 (1646a cop. 1-2), CtY1-2, 5 (646a cop. 1-2, Elizabethan Club), DFo, IU, MB, MH1-3 (Widener, Houghton B, Houghton A), MWelC, NcU, NjP, NN2-3 (Copley, Crampton), Osborn, Pforz1 (995), TxU1, 4 (Wh cop. 1, Ah)

Greg regarded the direction of the change in the two states he distinguished as uncertain, and it is understandable why it seemed natural to him to suppose that "Fragmenta Aurea" (B-C and *1) preceded "FRAGMENTA AVREA" (A and τ1), since the first is indeed "rather untidy" and the second "less common." We can now be certain, however, that State (A) was the earliest, because it is approximately coincident with an error — eventually corrected in press — on sig. πA3v, which is in the same forme of the preliminary half-sheet as the general title-page. In most copies with (A), "allowred" occurs on πA3v; whereas "allowed" occurs in all — 27 — copies we have examined that have the general title-page in States (B) and (C). It seems possible that the changes in the general title-page (A) that resulted in State (B) were made not during a later interruption but when the pressrun was interrupted to correct "allowred", since two of the four copies in State (A) that have "allowed" on πA3v — TxU3 and ViU — also have dubbed-in title-pages and are in that respect made-up copies (we are uncertain about Bodleian1 and NN1). At any rate, the coincidence of "allowed" with States (B-C) proves beyond doubt that they are later than an (A) that generally coincides with "allowred."

Although indirectly, press-correction also explains the anomaly as well as the order of State (B), in which a period and the rule under the date are wanting. The imprint, in the same setting of type, appears in the special title-pages of The Goblins and Brennoralt, proving, as Greg noted, that the preliminaries as well as two of the three plays included in Fragmenta Aurea came from the same press — Susan Islip's, on the evidence of ornaments used. The special title-pages were printed, as part of their bibliographically independent sections of the book, apparently (as commonly) before the general preliminaries went through the press, since the condition of the same types is worse on the general title-page than it is on the special title-pages. The same rule under the date that was first used in the plays' title-pages appears in the imprints in States (A) and (C) of the general title-page but, anomalously and curiously, not in State (B). In fact, the rule does "appear" — almost invisibly — in State (B), but it did not print, owing to frisket bite. Of a number of copies in State (B) we examined, at least three (Clayton, CSmH1, and TxU2) show grains of ink where the end of the rule should be, and the Huntington copy (CSmH1), which is very crisp, also shows, under high magnification, a clear but uninked impression certainly made by the rule's pressing through the frisket into the paper.


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In this copy there is also a minute trace of the ink of the period that follows "Churchyard".[1]

With the aid of this evidence, the printing history of the general title-page becomes clear. The larger capitals in "Fragmenta Aurea" (B-C), which replaced "FRAGMENTA AVREA" (A) with its smaller capitals, resulted in an increase of seven millimeters in the vertical dimension of the area to be inked for printing. Naturally the frisket should have been cut to the larger measure, but apparently it was not, at first, and the result was State (B). Some time after the press-run was resumed, it was interrupted a second time, and during this interruption two changes were made. At the same time the hole in the frisket was enlarged to allow the types suppressed in State (B) to print, as they do again in (C), approximately one-and-one-half to two millimeters of extra white space were inserted between lines five and six ("WRITTEN ∣ By Sir JOHN SVCKLING."). One cannot be certain which of the two changes, if not indeed both, prompted this second interruption, but that there were two changes of the kind described is apparent in the coincident facts that in State (C) period and rule are inked and the inked area of the overall title-page is still longer than it is in State (B), in which they are not inked.

It is of some interest, though little can be certainly extrapolated from surviving copies, that, of the forty copies of the first edition of Fragmenta Aurea we examined, there are thirteen (32.5%) in State (A), eight (20%) in State (B), and nineteen (47.5%) in State (C). Greg was right about the less common of two "major" states, but of course wrong about the least common of three states. A reproduction of State (A) may be found in the Grolier Club's Catalogue of Original and Early Editions . . . of English Writers from Wither to Prior (1905), III, No. 104; of State (B) in the Grolier Catalogue, III, No. 104, and in The Ashley Library (1922-36), Vol. VI, facing page 19; and of State (C) in John Hayward's English Poetry (1950), item 84.