University of Virginia Library

Cancellantia in Gatherings N and R

Offset evidence (as well as watermark evidence reported in "Interrelating the Cancellantia," 251, 255–257) indicates that cancellans folds N1.N2 and R1.R2 were not printed on one-half of a sheet, with top edges adjoining, as the B cancels were. Yet the two two-leaf folds often exchanged offset, implying that


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they somehow were printed on the same sheet and folded and/or stacked with one another. Pages N1r and R2v reciprocally exchanged offset in twenty copies; both leaves in the pairs N1r.N2v and R1v.R2r (with N1r facing R1v) exchanged offset in five others, and R1r and N2v exchanged offset in two more. Thus, pages of quarter-sheets N1.N2 and of R1.R2 exchanged offset in twenty-seven of the twenty-eight copies seen to have offset on more than one set of nonadjacent pages. Since in many copies leaves N1 and R1 have tranchefiles (presumably all did before trimming), we know they were each at the end of the sheet, parallel to the short axis. Since three quarters of copies examined have a watermark on N1 or R1 but no copy has a watermark divided between both leaves ("Interrelating the Cancellantia," 255–256), we can surmise they were not on the same half of the sheet, with N1 and R1 joined at their top edges. Rather, they were probably printed on the same sheet along the long axis N1.N2.R2.R1. Prior to folding, these two conjugate folds had already been separated from whatever originally occupied the other half of the full sheet and may have been cut in half into quarter-sheets before the folding.7 No offset from the extraneous work or works occupying the other long half of the sheet appears on N1.N2 and R1.R2 of any copy examined.

The offset evidence argues that they were arranged on the long axis specifically as N1v.N2r.R2v.R1r (or, flipping this unit end to end, R1v.R2r.N2v.N1r). The arrangement allowed for the quarter-sheets to be easily folded so that N1r and R1r faced upward. Also, placing leaves N1 and R1 on the outside edge increased the likelihood of their receiving a watermark. The arrangement is indicated by the reciprocal exchange of offset between both R1v/N1r and R2r/N2v in five copies (CSt, IU, NNU1, OAU, and ViWCF). This exchange may have occurred were the two pairs arranged on the uncut sheet with R1v.R2r.N2v.N1r face up and that sheet folded in half prior to cutting or, if cut, overlaid as if never cut, that is, with the inner side of fold R1v.R2r facing the outer of fold N2v.N1r. Then a second folding would reduce the unit to leaf size, engulfing one quarter-sheet within the other. Oddly in at least CSt, IU, OAU, and ViWCF copies, fold R1.R2 was on the exterior of N1.N2, though this would require a lifting fold instead of a turning fold. This left R1r on the outside, to exchange offset reciprocally with Z8v in CSt, IU, and OAU, and R2v also on the outside, to receive offset from Aa1r in CSt, IU, and OAU, and from Bb1r in ViWCF. In NNU1 both N1v.N2r and R2v.R1r bear no offset whatsoever, as if they had dried in quarter-sheet size before any second folding occurred. However, NNU1's quarter-sheets were


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probably folded a second time to reduce the pair of leaves to leaf size, for that seems implied by offset in CSt, IU, OAU, and ViWCF, and by the general pattern of stacking gatherings and units folded to leaf size. Curiously, we don't find any evidence that the opposite sides of these quarter-sheets were laid against each other: in no copy is offset exchanged by R1r/N1v or R2v/N2r. Such offset could have occurred if the quarter-sheets were so laid upon one another, and folded together with N1r facing up on top. Given the variety seen in folding the singletons' sheet and half-sheet with B cancellantia, the failure to find any instances of N1v.N2r folded against R1r.R2v (and only five copies with full exchanges between the reverse sides) suggests the four leaves were usually not cut into quarter-sheets prior to folding.

The most common offset exchange between N1.N2 and R1.R2, noted as reciprocal in twenty copies, is for N1r and R2v to have exchanged offset. Pages N1r and R2v were printed on different sides of the sheet, and so could not be folded face to face in the manner that N1r and R1v were in CSt, IU, NNU1, OAU, and ViWCF. But, if the two quarter-sheets were first cut apart, N1r and R2v could have been folded face to face in either of two ways.

First, the separated quarter-sheets could have been placed open against each other, with N1r facing R2v and N2v facing R1r. Then the stacked quarter-sheets could have both been folded with N1v turned against N2r (leaving R1v.R2r on the exterior) or with R1v turned against R2r (leaving N1v.N2r on the exterior). This method is indicated if offset appears as often between one pair (R1r and N2v) as another (N1r and R2v), and if offset from leaves other than these four tends to occur on N1v.N2r or on R1v.R2r. Yet there is almost no evidence for this folding. None of the twenty copies with reciprocal exchange N1r/R2v also has offset exchanged between their adjacent pages, N2v and R1r. Also, no copy seen has offset from outside pages transferred to both exterior leaves of this hypothesized fold, either R1v.R2r or N1v.N2r. Further, if the quarter-sheets were cut apart, one might expect that at times the pair would have been stacked with R1v.R2r against N1r.N2v, allowing R1.R2 to be folded as it ultimately would be with R1r outside, yet no offset shows this happened. So, there is no evidence for what might be thought a likely way to fold N1.N2 and R1.R2 economically (with a single cut and fold).

Pages N1r and R2v could also exchange in a second way after cutting. The quarter-sheets could first be folded separately, with the first versos turned against the second rectos, and then these leaf-sized folds could be stacked with the exterior N1r directly under the exterior R2v or with exterior R1r directly under the exterior N2v. But only Owo copy's limited offset suggests N1.N2 and R1.R2 were first cut, folded, and stacked this way: here N1v was folded against N2r, and R1v against R2r; then they were stacked against each other, with R1r facing N2v and exchanging offset. This arrangement left N1r on the exterior and able to exchange offset with B8v. (Owo's singletons half-sheet likewise was also cut into quarter-sheets before folding.) In contrast to this rare pattern, a similar arrangement is far more common. Here the offset occurs as if the folded quarter-sheet R1.R2 rather than N1.N2 was on top: the offset shows N1r placed against R2v, and R1r and N2v left on the outside to receive the offset. Of the twenty copies with offset reciprocally exchanged between N1r and R2v, sixteen have an exchange between R1r


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and Z8v and fourteen have an exchange between N2v and Aa1r, making nineteen of the twenty with at least one or the other. Furthermore, an exchange between R1r and Z8v also occurred in CSt, InU, IU, and OAU, and R2v exchanged offset with Aa1r in CSt, IU, and OAU. Thus, in total, offset of either R1r or N2v appears on either Z8v or Aa1r in twenty-three copies, that is, in well over half the copies where offset has been noticed (perhaps in as many as ninety percent of the copies with offset, for I initially failed to scrutinize Z8v and Aa1r for offset). Why, we might ask, if the quarter-sheets had been cut free, folded, and stacked, was the R1.R2 fold almost never (never except for Owo) placed underneath N1.N2 such that N2v and R1r exchanged offset? That this placement occurred rarely is suggested by there being no copy seen with offset exchanged between N1r and Z8v. Indeed, it is odd that, within quarter-sheets N1.N2 and R1.R2, only N2v and R1r have contact with Z8v and Aa1r. I believe there is a better explanation of how N1r and R2v were normally folded to exchange offset.

The offset exchanges N1r/R2v, R1r/Z8v, and N2v/Aa1r can be accounted for without cutting oblong N1.N2.R2.R1 into quarter-sheets if the unit was instead folded three times. With the side N1v.N2r.R2v.R1r face up, the workman moved from left to right. First he folded N1v down on N2r; then he folded N1r, now facing up, right and down on R2v, and then he either turned R1r downward and under or turned the three-leaf left-hand unit under R1, bringing R1v against R2r. If this was done, the inner formes of both folds R1v.R2r and of N1v.N2' would be facing each other, folded for use. Also, the leaf-sized unit would have N2v and R1r facing outward, both ready to receive offset, respectively, from adjacent leaves Aa1r and Z8v. (Perhaps R1r, not N2v, was face downward toward the front of the alphabet so that the joined and rounded edges of two folds were more identifiable as appearing among separated leaf edges.) The advantage of this folding would be that the two quarter-sheet folds would be linked, and the leaves the right size for stacking. Furthermore, the two folds were ready to guide the blade and were both on the same side of the folded unit. Surely it would take more time both to fold the cancellantia down to leaf size and to separate them into two folds than it would to just fold them three times. And, if one workman folded but did not cut, he could work on, even if a companion borrowed or was using the cutting tool. In any case, even if a blade or shears were at hand and the folder was tasked with separating these quarter-sheets, folding may routinely have preceded cutting as it created the line to cut along or the fold to slice outwards. That the N and R cancellans were folded three times without cutting is suggested by their being stacked against each other with R2v atop N1r in most copies. This method explains the offset exchanged reciprocally by N1r and R2v in the aforementioned twenty copies (and possibly in CaOHM), the offset exchanged by R1r and Z8v in at least sixteen of these copies, and the exchange between N2v and Aa1r in at least fourteen. All three consequent pieces of offset evidence occur in eleven copies (CaAEU, DLC, ICN1, LdU-B, May2, May3, MB, NIC, NRU, Ob, and RPB), and at least two occur in eight others (BrP, CtY, FU, KU, LU, May4, MR2, and NjP). Further, no contrary evidence occurs in any copy; in all of them, N1v faced N2r and R1v faced R2r, as need be the case. This hypothesis involving three folds without cutting also explains why R1r and N2v never were overlaid, exchanging offset.


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If this predominant offset pattern for N1.N2 and R1.R2 was produced without cutting, probably the other common patterns for the N and R cancellantia also did not involve cutting prior to folding. The exchange of offset between both R1v/N1r and R2r/N2v at CSt, IU, NNU1, OAU, and ViWCF could have occurred prior to cutting when the quarter-sheet folds were still joined. If this unit was laid out uncut as N1v.N2r.R2v.R1r, and N1v were folded right against N2r, and R2.R1 backwards with R2r against N2v and then R1v to the right downward against N1r, the two sets of exchanges would occur. And this would leave R1r. R2v on the exterior to exchange offset with other leaves as happened in CSt, IU, OAU, and ViWCF. In addition, the offset exchanges in Owo and possibly CaOHM could have been produced with three folds. Imagine that the oblong four-page unit had the reverse side up, R1v.R2r.N2v.N1r. Folding again begins from the left with R1v turned down on R2r and then these two leaves turned with R1r face down on N2v, producing the reciprocal exchanges in CaOHM and Owo. Then to produce patterns in Owo the right-most leaf with N1r facing up was folded down and under, turning N1v against N2r and leaving N1r on the exterior able to transfer offset to B8v. Or, to produce CaOHM's further exchange where N1r's offset was placed on R2v, N1r was not turned under but wrongly folded left over the three-leaf stack with R2v upward. This final fold would leave N1v. N2 r on the exterior—a blunder but possibly done. If the folding began with N1v.N2r.R2v.R1r facing up, three folds could also produce CaOHM's offset pattern but still with wrong pages (R1v.R2r) on the exterior. Neither option prepares CaOHM's R2v to exchange offset with Bb8v.


It seems likely that a folder separated a sheet into halves by tearing it or slicing it, not by cutting it with shears. It is difficult to identify the method of separation, for usually the top fold in an octavo was left sealed until trimmed by the binder or cut free by the owner of an untrimmed copy. The long exterior leaf-edge as that joining A1 with Dd1 or U1 with B3 is always hidden at the spine. Scissors would seem to leave a series of straight cuts not perfectly in line and require more time than a long-bladed knife or paper slicer (I've seen little evidence of scissors used by those assembling and binding sheets). In the only untrimmed copy of this book examined (the Csj copy), the top fold and outside edge on B3 and the half-sheet with B cancellantia were not scissored but cut free with a knife, leaving uneven edges with surpluses and deficits on adjacent leaves (Dd1's top complements B3's; B2's, B6's; and so on). The N and R cancellantia have had their top edges cut evenly on a straight line as by a slicer.