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Printers' setting-copy used in England has been established as follows (in approximate chronological sequence): Caxton's sole known copy is Traversagni's autograph MS of his Nova Rhetorica (pub. 1479); see J. Ruysschaert, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 36 (1953-54), 191-196. The first Oxford Printer's copy for the Expositio Symboli of Rufinus is discussed by A. C. de la Mare and Lotte Hellinga in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 7 (1978), 184-244. For Wynkyn de Worde's copy for his editions of The Siege of Thebes, The Assembly of Gods, De Proprietatibus Rerum and The Orcherd of Syon see respectively, for the first two works, Gavin Bone: "Extant MSS printed from by Wynkyn de Worde with notes on the owner, Roger Thorney", The Library, 4th ser., 12 (1932), 285-306; R. W. Mitchener: "Wynkyn de Worde's Use of the Plimpton Manuscript of De Proprietatibus Rerum", The Library, 5th ser., 6 (1951), 7-18 and N. F. Blake: review of The Orcherd of Syon ed. Phyllis Hodgson and Gabriel M. Liegey in Anglia, 85 (1967), 208-212 and Caxton: England's First Publisher (1976), pp. 90-92. For de Worde's use of a printed book as copy, see below note 6. Examples of Richard Pynson's setting-copy, for Lydgate's Fall of Princes and Dives and Pauper, are analysed by Margery Morgan in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 33 (1950-51), 194-196 and The Library, 5th ser., 8 (1953), 217-228. Some of William Thynne's copy for his 1532 edition of Chaucer is discussed by James E. Blodgett in The Library, 6th ser., 1 (1979), 97-113. H. C. Schulz, after publishing his discovery of a "Manuscript Printer's Copy for a lost Early English Book" in The Library, 4th ser., 12 (1942), 138-144 established that the copy was in fact used as the basis for Robert Wyer's edition of the Book of Purgatorye; see Huntingdon Library Quarterly, 29 (1965), 325-336. Gavin Bone, op.cit., pp. 304-306, suggested that The Court of Love found in Trinity College Cambridge MS R.3.19, owned by John Stow, was used by the printers for Stow's 1561 edition of Chaucer. Work on later sixteenth-century copy has been carried out by John Bromwich in "The First book Printed in Anglo-Saxon Types", Transactions of the Cambridge Society, 3 (1962), 265-292 and by Sir Walter Greg, who found Richard Field's copy for his edition of Harington's translation of Orlando Furioso (1591); see The Library, 4th ser. (1924), 102-118. Dr Percy Simpson's work on the copy for the 5th Book of Hooker's Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie (1597) in "Proof-Reading by English Authors of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries", Oxford Bibliographical Society's Proceedings Papers ii, 1 (1928), 5-24 has been considerably developed by W. Speed Hill in Studies in Bibliography, 33 (1980), 144-161. For a general survey see Percy Simpson: Proof-Reading in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1935, repr. 1970). Considerable work has been done on continental printers' copy and much of this is relevant to the study of English compositorial habits. Early copy used by Netherlandish printers is discussed by Wytze Gs Hellinga in Copy and Print in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, 1962) and this is dealt with in greater detail by Lotte Hellinga-Querido in Methode En Praktijk Bij Het Zetten van Boeken in de Vijftiende Eeuw (Amsterdam, 1974, thesis), where the main centre of interest is the relation between Jacob Bellaert's edition of the Historie van Jason (Haarlem 1485) and its British Library copy. See also "Notes on the order of setting a fifteenth century book" by the same author, in Quaerendo, 4 (1974), 64-69, and "Problems about technique and methods in a fifteenth century printing house" in Villes d'imprimerie et moulins a papier du XIVe au XVIe siecle. Colloque International. Collection Histoire Pro Civitate serie in-80 no. 43 (Brussels, 1976), pp. 301-312. The printing of Pontanus' De prudentia by Mayr in Naples (?1508) is dealt with by W. H. Bond in Studies in Bibliography, 8 (1956), 147-156, and further bibliography on Italian printers' copy is found in de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., note 79. Bertram Colgrave and Irvine Masson discussed the first edition of Bede's Prose Life of St Cuthbert (Basle, 1563) in The Library, 4th ser., 19 (1939), 289-303.


A full analysis of the hands involved in the copying of items in the MS, together with a descriptive catalogue of its contents will be found in a thesis by the present author, currently under preparation for presentation to the University of York.


The evidence from the watermarks of the paper used, though not in itself conclusive, when taken into account with the two copyists' hands, datable in broad terms to the second half of the fifteenth century, would seem to indicate a date around the middle of the second half of the fifteenth century. I should like to thank Dr David Smith of the Borthwick Institute for Historical Research, York, for his assistance in dealing with the palaeographical aspects of the texts.


Folio 83v is in a different hand, but there is nothing to associate it with a date later than that of the main copyist. This is contrary to the opinion expressed by Valerie Stewart Roberts in An Edition of the Middle English Romance: The Lyfe of Ipomydon (University of Michigan Ph.D thesis, 1974), p. vii, where she states that the hand is early sixteenth century, and "probably that of Colyns himself". The forms of many of the letters are so different as to preclude such an identification.


The fact that there is another excerpt from a romance inserted into the top half of the page has been responsible for the erroneous statement that three leaves of Ipomydon were preserved in the British Library (see e.g., H. S. Bennett: English Books and Readers 1475-1557 [Cambridge, 1952], p. 254). The mistake apparently originated with the compiler of the Index to the Bagford Ballads, where item 18 is described thus; the mistake has since been corrected by a later cataloguer and the two leaves on the upper portion of the page assigned to a Charlemagne romance.


It has been proved that Wynkyn de Worde used the 1486 edition of the Book of Hawking, Hunting and Blasing off Arms by the Schoolmaster Printer, now in the British Library, for his edition of 1496. See the discussion by George D. Painter under "Notable Acquisitions of Printed Books 1961-62: Incunabula" in The British Museum Quarterly, 27 (1963-64), 100-101. An extended examination of the relationship between the two texts will be in the forthcoming volume BMC XI.


Vol. I (1967), 154.


Eugen Kölbing: Ipomedon in drei englischen Bearbeitung (Breslau, 1889).


Both Bone and Mitchener refer to 'pencil' being used to mark MSS (op.cit., pp. 306 and 8, respectively), whilst Schulz suggests a plummet and red crayon; "Manuscript Printer's Copy for a lost Early Book", p. 141. An interesting reference in this connection can be found in the roughly contemporary Garland of Laurell by John Skelton (pub. 1523), where there is a passage describing writing instruments:

castyng my syght the chambre aboute,
To se how duly ich thyng in ordre was,
Towarde the dore, as he were comyng oute,
I sawe maister Newton sit with his compas,
His plummet, his pensell, his spectacles of glas,
Dyvysynge in pycture, by his industrious wit,
Of my laurell the proces every whitte. (ll. 1093-99)
I am indebted to Professor V. J. Scattergood of Trinity College, Dublin, for bringing this to my attention; he suggests that Newton, though unidentified, might have been a scrivener or illustrator who worked for the Howard family, patrons of Skelton. Apart from this, the earliest recorded usages of 'pencil' and 'plummet' in the O.E.D. as marking instruments in the modern sense are from the seventeenth century. The light greyish-black colour of some of the markings in H could be accounted for either by an accumulation of dirt (admittedly selective), or by the use of one of these instruments.


Cf. Mitchener's discussion of the smudges in the Plimpton MS of De Proprietatibus Rerum (op.cit., p. 9), also Plate VIIa, of the MS of the Expositio Symboli, in de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit. Lotte Hellinga, in her article with Hilton Kelliher, "The Malory Manuscript", in The British Library Journal, 3 (1977), 92-94 has established that this MS was in Caxton's workshop through an analysis of such marks under infra-red light, some of which proved to be off-sets of type.


I am indebted to Professor Derek Pearsall of the University of York for his help in looking at PM in situ; additional information has been gained through examination of a microfilm of the text.


For various theories as to the function of compositors' marks see Wytze Gs Hellinga: Copy and Print, pp. 95-98 and Harry Carter in the 'Foreword to the Reprint' of Percy Simpson's book, op.cit., p. viii. More recently Lotte Hellinga has confirmed, through her detailed work on the copy for Bellaert's edition of the Historie van Jason that at least some of the marks found in the B.L. text were indicative of casting-off. See Methode en Praktijk, Summary in English, p. x, and "Notes on the order of setting a fifteenth century book". Following the results of her work on this text she was able to establish similar practices in the two early Netherlandish prints by Ketelaer and de Leempt, previously described by W. Gs Hellinga; see "Problems about techniques and methods" pp. 304-305, 308.


Lotte Hellinga makes the point that although the printer's copy so far examined does conform to these findings, each case must be judged independently; see de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., p. 198.


Ipomydon ends on f. 84r; f. 85 was originally left blank but Colyns later copied various poems and short prose pieces onto it.


One way of checking to see whether two compositors had worked on the text would be to compare differences in spelling and vocabulary between H and the assumed halves of the printed edition; but sufficient text to make this a feasible proposition only survives in PM, and, as already noted, the compositor(s) here have effected further changes from BL.


For illustration of the different ways in which compositors belonging to various printing houses tackled this problem see Mitchener, op.cit., pp. 15-17, Margery Morgan, "Pynson's MS of Dives and Pauper", pp. 219-220 and L. Hellinga, "Notes on the order of setting a fifteenth century book", pp. 65-66; also de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., pp. 198-200.


See Morgan, "Pynson's MS of Dives and Pauper", p. 218, note 3, and "A Specimen of Early Printer's Copy", pp. 195-196.


As in the Rylands MS of the Fall of Princes, see Morgan, "A Specimen of Early Printer's Copy", p. 194.


For de Worde's use of this system in the MS of De Proprietatibus Rerum see Mitchener, op.cit., p. 9; it is also found in Hervagius' copy for Bede's Life of St Cuthbert, see Colgrave and Masson, op.cit., p. 299.


This seems to have been the common form of printers' numeration; the wide geographical and chronological span of its adoption in printing houses is commented upon by Bone op.cit., p. 306 and Colgrave and Masson op.cit., p. 298.


See de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., p. 198; cf. W. Gs Hellinga, op.cit., Plate 13, which shows that at least part of Ketelaer and de Leempt's 1473 edition of Aquinas' Tractatus de divinis moribus is marked only in this way. A similar system of marking is found in the MS of The Court of Love used by Stow in his 1561 edition of Chaucer; see Bone, op.cit., pp. 304-306.


If this was the scheme adopted, it would mean that the mark on f. 63r, which is admittedly extremely vague, could no longer be read as a 'C' (it could perhaps be a cross), and that the two marks towards the end of the text on f. 82v, which can be seen as the letter 'I,' should instead be viewed simply as vertical strokes. If it had been planned to set up BL in ternions these pages would have formed part of signatures B and F respectively.


Even this practice was not adopted throughout; for example in l.17 final 'e' is removed from 'dwell' but added to 'praye'. Differences between BL and PM on this point have been noted, above.


See, for instance, the discussion of the Court of Love by R. H. Robbins in Vol. 2 of A Manual of Writings in Middle English, ed. A. Hartung (1973), pp. 1087-89.


On ff. 58r, 63r and 74v he inserted words which he had accidentally omitted; on ff. 59r, 70v, 75v and 80r he placed dots under words wrongly copied, supplying the correct word either above or in the margin. On f. 95r of the Morte Arthur he made a more serious mistake, misplacing two whole couplets; here also he indicated his error, presumably a deviation from the text in front of him.


A "number of tiny, very neat marginal corrections" are similarly found in the Rylands MS of the Fall of Princes according to Margery Morgan; see "A Specimen of Early Printer's Copy", p. 195.


Cf. the comments by H. C. Schulz in "A Middle English Manuscript Used as Printer's Copy", p. 327.


Cf. the care which Caxton took of Traversagni's autograph MS, Ruysschaert, op.cit., and the clean condition of the St John's College MS of the Siege of Thebes and the Plimpton MS of De Proprietatibus Rerum as seen in the plates in Bone, op.cit., Simpson, op.cit., frontispiece, and Mitchener, op.cit., See also de la Mare and Hellinga, op.cit., p. 201 and plate VIIa, for the Sloane MS of Rufinus' Expositio Symboli. For an exception to this rule, see plate 38 in Blake, England's First Publisher, a folio of the Harley MS of The Orcherd of Syon, and the discussion of the probable reasons for the comparative carelessness with which it was treated, on pp. 90-92.


It is interesting to speculate as to the reasons why no edition of the Morte was published; part of the explanation could perhaps lie in the fact that this romance was one of the major sources used by Malory in the final books of his Morte d'Arthur; this had been published by Caxton in 1485 and further editions were issued by de Worde in 1498 and 1529. To this extent perhaps a potential market had already been captured.


The verses run as follows:

'Lenvoye of Robert C. the prynter'
O lytell Jest / vndepured of speche
Vnto thy reders I alway me excuse
Go take thy mater I hertly the beseche
Though þu rudely / no other termes vse
This is thy copy thou can it not refuse
Syth þt no wryter / wolde take þe to amende
In this my labour / I myght it not entende
Enprynted at London in the Flete-strete / at
the sygne of the Sonne by Wynkyn de Worde


Only about twelve books printed solely by Copland survive from the period up to 1535. See, amongst others, H. R. Plomer: A Short History of English Printing (1912), pp. 47-50.


For the most recent theory concerning de Worde's publishing rationale see the articles by N. F. Blake: "Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years" and "Wynkyn de Worde: The Later Years" in Gutenberg Jahrbuch, 1971 and 1972, respectively. For a discussion of Copland's role, see "The Early Years", p. 66.


I am indebted to Jean M. Imray, Archivist to the Mercers' Company, for her kindness in supplying me with this, and other, details from the Register of the Freemen of the Mercers' Company compiled by the Company's Clerk in 1528.


See Acts of Court of the Mercers' Company, edited with Introduction by L. Lyell assisted by F.D. Watney (1936), p. 509.


They are dealt with in greater detail in the thesis by the present author, above mentioned.


It also qualifies the comment made by Blake that Roger Thorney "was the only merchant to patronise Wynkyn" in "Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years", p. 67.


For details of the patronage of such merchants as Hugh Bryce, William Bretton and Roger Thorney see E. Gordon Duff: The Printers, Stationers and Bookbinders of Westminster and London from 1476 to 1535 (1906), Graham Pollard: "The Company of Stationers before 1557", The Library, 4th ser., 18 (1937), 1-38 and N. F. Blake: Caxton and His World (1969), passim.


For a general view see Bennett, op.cit., pp. 149-150, 191; also Paul A. Scanlon: "A Checklist of Prose Romances in English 1474-1603", The Library, 5th ser., 33 (1978), 143-152.


See N. F. Blake: "William Caxton: His Choice of Texts", Anglia, 83 (1965), 301-307.


I should like to express my gratitude to Mrs Mirjam Foot and Dr Lotte Hellinga for their generous advice and criticism, and to Professor N. F. Blake and Professor V. J. Scattergood for their kindness in reading an earlier draft of this article.