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An excursus on the format of so-called “broadsides” and “broadside books” may be in order here, because the subject has not been treated satisfactorily, either in the introductory textbooks or elsewhere. There has been, for example, some discussion—a disproportionate amount, in my opinion—about whether two terms, “broadside” and “broadsheet,” should be used to distinguish the direction in which the lines of type run, and there has been debate over whether these terms can apply to pieces that have printing on both sides. Even Pollard and Greg felt obliged to comment on such matters, and although they recognized that the direction of the printing is not an aspect of format, they nevertheless


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suggested the term “oblong broadside” to indicate “the broadsheet in which the lines of type follow the wiremarks and not the chainmarks.”[53] The direction in which the lines of type run, and the question whether the printing appears on one or both sides of the paper, are obviously matters irrelevant to a consideration of format. If one wishes to have terms that will make such distinctions, one is concerned with defining different genres of printed matter, not formats.

But determining the fraction of a full sheet that a given item occupies is indeed a format question, and here too a failure to distinguish formats from kinds of printed matter has vitiated some of the commentary. The word “broadside” is popularly used to mean any printed piece of paper—such as a poster, a handbill, and the like—intended for distribution in that form, not as part of a book. But since some of these printed pieces of paper are whole sheets and some part-sheets, this use of “broadside” is not a format term. If one wants it to be a format term (probably not a good idea, as I suggest below), one would have to use it consistently with the other format terms, from “folio” onward. Such consistency would demand that “broadside” refer only to the situation in which one type-page (or other unit of printing surface) is on the press and is intended to fill one side of a whole sheet of paper. In other words, the verbal or visual text—whether it is presented in one or more columns and whether the longer or shorter dimension of the paper is at the top—constitutes the matter for a page, which by definition is one side of a leaf. Thus in this format the leaf is a whole sheet, and the format symbol would logically be 1°.[54]

But when, as often happened, the type for two separate single-leaf pieces—two handbills, for example—was on the press at one time, the resulting printed items, after the sheets were cut, ought logically to be called folio leaves. Otherwise one would be in the position of treating a half-sheet handbill differently from a single-leaf cancel (or a single-leaf insertion) in a folio book. Many bibliographers have been in this position, however, (Principles, p. 195) and Gaskell (New Introduction, p. 81) recommended “½°” as the format notation


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for a separate half-sheet piece (whereas a leaf to be inserted in a folio book would be a “2° leaf”). The “½°” notation is as illogical as the earlier practice, condemned by all thoughtful bibliographers, of using “single sheet” to mean “half a broadside.”[55] Notations like “½°,” “¼°,” and “⅛°” are inconsistent with the standard forms “2°,” “4°,” and “8°”—or, rather, one should perhaps say that they actually constitute an alternative system for saying the same thing. Both “2°” and “½°” mean that each leaf is half a sheet, though by custom the numerator of the fraction is omitted. The act of inserting it does not logically tell one that the item consists of only one leaf, for the number of leaves involved has nothing to do with the format designation. A folio pamphlet of four leaves and a folio book of one hundred leaves are equally of folio format, and a half-sheet handbill—a one-leaf item—is also in folio format. It could be recorded as “2°: 1 leaf,” which would be consistent with established format usage; or, more conveniently perhaps, it could be called a “folio leaf,” a “2° leaf,” or a “half-sheet leaf.” (The leaves of loose-leaf manuscripts may similarly be called “folio leaves” or “half-sheet leaves,” and so on, though the size of full sheets may not always be ascertainable, especially if the paper is not handmade.)

To be realistic, one cannot stop the widespread use of “broadside” as the generic term covering nearly any kind of single-leaf printed item, including such part-sheet pieces. I think bibliographers might therefore consider not using it as a format term and using it instead in this general sense (since it is convenient anyway to have some term to cover all such loose pieces). Then it would be possible to refer to “full-sheet broadsides,” “folio broadsides,” “quarto broadsides,” and so on. “Broadside” would then be a term parallel with “book” or “pamphlet,” distinguishing loose single printed leaves from multi-leaf assemblages, and the conventional format terms can be applied to the former as readily as the latter.

By “multi-leaf assemblages,” I of course refer both to books constructed from gatherings sewn through the gutter-folds and to books made up of disjunct leaves held together by stabbing or oversewing, by sewing through folds created by turned-over edges, or by pasting to sewn stubs.[56] Many books constructed of disjunct leaves exist, often consisting


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of engraved or lithographed plates, such as books of music, maps, or botanical, zoological, or topographical illustrations.[57] Any consideration of broadsides must take up these books since their structure might cause one to think of them as collections of broadsides. They are indeed sometimes called “broadside books” (or “broadsheet books”); but if (as I think desirable) we wish to restrict “broadside” to single-leaf pieces, we cannot speak of a “broadside book” except perhaps in those instances where the book is in fact made up of single-leaf pieces that had been published and distributed separately. Another name is thus needed for books that contain works requiring more than one leaf for their presentation and that are made up of disjunct leaves. They cannot be called “leaf books” because that term already has an established meaning, referring to the unfortunate category of book in which each copy of an edition contains (tipped or laid into it) a leaf from an earlier book. What I suggest, therefore, is “disjunct-leaf book” or, perhaps more euphoniously but less obviously, “singleton book.”[58] These terms carry no implication that the leaves are necessarily whole sheets, and they can be used for all books (manuscript or printed) made up of disjunct leaves, regardless of their formats.

It has not been common to speak of formats in connection with disjunct-leaf books, but clearly they do have formats, determined exactly as for conjugate-leaf books, by the portion of a full sheet occupied by


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each leaf and thus by the number of page-units of printing surface required to fill one side of a sheet.[59] Once one learns to think of format in terms of how many page-units are required to fill a whole sheet, not in terms of paper-folding, one sees immediately that conjugacy is not an essential aspect of format. For present purposes, we need not debate whether “codex” can be applied to disjunct-leaf books as well as to conjugate-leaf books.[60] There seems little doubt that the conjugate-leaf codex evolved from the practice of fastening wooden tablets with thongs running through holes along one side; and in any case both structures share the principal characteristic that is usually thought to distinguish the codex from the roll—the division of the reading surface into leaves held together at one edge. Disjunct-leaf books (not only plate books but modern paperbacks as well) sit on library shelves along with conjugate- leaf books, and bibliographers often have to describe them in the same bibliographies. The concept of and the notation for format ought to be the same in both cases, since the manner in which leaves are held together is not the determinant of format.

Allan Stevenson, when he faced the task of describing the eighteenth-century books in the Hunt collection, recognized the need for a standard system for dealing with what he called “broadsheet books,” since many of them were naturally present in a collection of botanical books. His proposal (in his introduction to the 1961 volume of the Hunt catalogue [see note 24 above]) left something to be desired, however, for he recommended using a superscript “1” in the collation formulas for such books, as in “A-N1.” He said, “This is almost the only situation in which, there being no folding of the sheet, we use odd numbers as indexes” (p. clx). But this point is an admission that disjunct-leaf books are not being treated uniformly with conjugate-leaf books. There is, after all, an established form for reporting individual leaves: the numeral is placed on the line, as in “A1.” The description of disjunct-leaf books provides no reason to relax the rule of restricting superscript figures to sewing-fold conjugacies, and thus to even numbers. In speaking of the notation for referring, outside the formula, to individual leaves of disjunct-leaf books, Stevenson suggested using only the signatures—that is, “A” rather than “A1”—because he felt that the numeral was superfluous in such cases. He seemed not to realize the inconsistency he was left with, since


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the superscript “1” in the formula was equally unnecessary: there is no ambiguity in stating “1°: A-N.”

There would be an ambiguity (or at least potential confusion), however, if the leaves were part-sheets and the format figure were therefore something other than “1°.”[61] A system for treating disjunct-leaf books uniformly with conjugate-leaf books requires that provision be made for books consisting of disjunct leaves that are each less than a full sheet (a situation that Stevenson does not cover). In fact, a ready-made system already exists: the standard plan for recording the collation of conjugate-leaf books requires no adjustment to handle disjunct-leaf books, except recognizing the use of a dash to link references to single leaves, in the same way that signatures are linked in conventional formulas to signify a series between the first and last one named. Thus a book made up of half-sheet disjunct leaves would be described as follows (the first line referring to one with signed leaves, the second to one with unsigned leaves, the third to one with both):

2°: A1-T1

2°: [11-191] or 2°: 19 disjunct leaves

2°: A1-D1 χ1 E1-L1 [M1] N1-S1

If each leaf were a quarter-sheet, the format would be 4°, and so on. Anyone familiar with the established system would have no doubt about what is being recorded here and would be able to adapt this plan to other complications.[62] I wish to emphasize that these formulas should not be


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thought of as an innovation. They simply emerge logically from coherent thinking about format. If format is taken to refer to the number of page-units needed to fill one side of a sheet, it follows that a disjunct leaf and a conjugate leaf are the same format if they both consist of the same fraction of a sheet. This point has always been understood when a few disjunct leaves are tipped into a book largely constructed of folded gatherings, but it should apply equally to a book made up entirely of disjunct leaves. Eliminating the idea of folding as an element of format makes clear that the essential concept comprehends without difficulty both broadsides and disjunct-leaf books as well as books made up of sewn gatherings.