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Allan Stevenson has observed that, when planning the various components of a proposed book, the printer or publisher "generally arranged for paper sufficient for that book only and paper homogeneous in size and quality."[6] Economic circumstances fostered such practices, for "Paper was too expensive a commodity, too space consuming, to make any other system really practicable" (21-22). As a consequence of this practice, books from the common press period are often partially or completely printed on paper bearing a common watermark or watermark pair. One also frequently finds the other extreme, that is, a book with "a considerable diversity of papers, mixtures arising from certain practices of gathering and distribution within the paper trade" (21). These groups of papers usually consist of leftover sheets from another project that a printer "would save for later use, or else return to his publisher or patron or paper merchant"[7]—who would then, presumably, pass them on to another customer.

These phenomena are commonly referred to as "runs" and "remnants," and evidence of both occurs with regularity in Jonson's Workes. Six groups of paper stocks make up the main supply used in printing 225 of the 257 sheets in the Folio, each group contributing most or all of the paper for a significant portion of production. The book is a folio-in-sixes and collates ¶6 A-4P6 4Q4; the runs of paper occur as follows:

Paper Stocks [8]   Gatherings  
1   G-P 
6 & 7 (combined)  3X-4I 
6 & 15 (combined)  4K-4Q  
10   3G-3N  
12   A-E, R-2A, 2Z-3D, 3N-3T  
10, 12, & 13 (combined)  2G-2X  


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The distribution of like groups of paper into these recognizable and dominant patterns indicates that Stansby used large agglomerations of mostly homogenous paper stocks in his printing work.

In addition, three other smaller groups dominate the production for short spans of time:

Paper Stocks   Gatherings  
3   Q, 2C-2F  
2B-2D, 3E-3F  
11  F, 3P-3R  

Stansby regularly used remnants he had stored or had acquired from others; they often fill small, temporary gaps or pad the dominant stocks to make them last longer. Occasionally these remnants will provide the major paper source for a short period, as in P3.4, Q1.6, R3.4, 2L, 2O-2P, 2V2.5, 2Y (reset), 3D3.4, 3E, 3F1.6, 3S, 3V, 3X3.4, and 4B.

When one of the groupings gives way to the next, the transitional sections show a blending of the outgoing and incoming stocks over one or more formes. The manner in which runs and remnants appear, disappear, and then reappear can reveal clues about the day-to-day activity in a printing house. For example, at certain points in the Folio's printing, Stansby's use of two distinct paper groups alternates back and forth with strict regularity, as in gatherings L-O, where Group 10 appears briefly in six of twelve sheets, then fades out again. The same phenomenon surfaces in gatherings 3P-3S between Groups 11 and 12, and in a more complicated dance among Groups 10, 12, and 13 in gatherings 2H-2M. These patterns may indicate that, at least for a short time, Stansby used two presses to print the Workes ; as one press crew used up their supply of paper he allocated more paper from a new supply while the second crew continued working with the original allotment.[9] Stansby's business was quite active during this period, averaging at one point 840 edition sheets per year, and the printing house's busy production schedule must have at times required the shifting of different jobs between presses.

An examination of paper use over time can also shed light on the sometimes muddy relationship among the owners of various of Jonson's texts. Stansby had to negotiate with a number of booksellers in order to secure the rights to print Jonson's Workes . Walter Burre owned complete or partial rights to seven of the nine plays, John Smethwicke owned Every Man out of His Humour, Matthew Lownes owned Poetaster, and various parts of the poetry, entertainments and masques were owned by Stansby, Edward Blount, Richard Bonion, Thomas Thorpe and Henry Walley. In addition, Stansby sold part of the edition to Richard Meighen, a Stationer for whom he had done some work the previous year.[10] Given that the bargaining for rights may


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also have included some solicitation of funding from the original copyright holders, and recognizing that paper constituted a significant expense in a book's production, it would not be surprising if Stansby arranged part or all of his paper supply individually with the different interested parties.[11] In fact, this is what we see in the printing of the plays. Every Man Out, owned by Smethwicke, is printed almost exclusively on Group 1 paper, with some remnants in the final quires. This selection of paper changes abruptly to Group 12 with the commencement of printing on Cynthia's Revels, owned by Burre. One gathering into Poetaster, owned by Lownes, the type of paper used switches again, this time to a mixture of Groups 3 and 5. Finally, with the printing of Sejanus and the remaining plays, all owned by Burre, the sheets are again from Group 12, a type that continues with only a few interruptions through Volpone, Epicoene, and parts of the Alchemist and Catiline. Interestingly, the remainder of the Folio (the poems, entertainments, and masques) shows a similar consistency of paper use, with the early sections of Epigrams printed on the leftover Burre stock, the section from the middle of Epigrams through Hymenaei printed primarily on Groups 6 and 7, and the Haddington Masque through the end on Groups 6 and 15. The homogeneity of paper use in the final 20 quires indicates that the various owners of the smaller works likely collaborated to purchase the necessary paper, or that by the time of printing the remaining gatherings Stansby had reached agreement with the rightsholders to purchase the titles outright.