University of Virginia Library

Conclusions and Speculations

The discovery that sheets of The Centaur were folded and collated while the printing went forward leads to the cautious supposition that at least a few copies of books with cancels are likely to contain offset from the cancellanda (and that such instances should be sought in books known to contain cancels). Conversely, the presence of offset might indicate that cancellation has occurred. It stands to reason that the wetter the sheet (the more recently printed it was) the more prone it was to receive and transfer its image to the adjacent page. It would seem likely that offset is, as in this edition, more common in cancellantia and partials involving preliminary and final leaves than the regular sheets of the book, for these were usually printed late in the run and folded closer to the time of printing, rushed by the desire to publish, and thus folding occurred while sheets tended to be damper and more vulnerable to offsetting. Also, the cancellantia and partials were damper when placed into the sorted stacks of sheets for particular copies. Much offset can be identified as transferred while in a pre-bound stack of the folded sheets and not just during the folding of the sheets. For instance, in the May1 copy, T8v’s and U2r’s offsets are cast in the top margin on U1r and U1v respectively, and cancellans U1’s are cast in the bottom margins on T8v and U2r; the alignments are 10 mm above and below present position. Similarly, in O-HF R2v’s offset on R3r is too low to have been caused after the sheets were bound—the offset from R2v’s footnote is 3 mm lower than it is currently positioned in this contemporary-bound copy. Offset transference during the stacking period is sometimes apparent from offset’s being laid down obliquely. In O, B6v’s offset runs obliquely across B7r as not folded properly when stacked (the leaves are bound with lines parallel in the contemporary-bound copy, and the offset of B7v on B8r is straight and parallel to the bound book). Also, offset exchanged between sheets not adjacent, as between Y8v and Aa1r in CaOHM, must reflect exchanges during the stacking.

It seems likely that offset exchange is caused more by moist paper than by wet ink (ink was expected to set, not dry), either because the wetness of the transferring paper had somewhat dissolved the ink or, more likely, because the moist receiving paper was more absorbent (that paper was more absorbent when wet is the reason for wetting the sheets prior to printing). Nonetheless, the role of ink should not be entirely discounted. The amount of offset in sheets of The Centaur varies between copies as if partly the product of the amount of ink applied to the type-forme. The degree of inking on the same forme varied not only between the impression of one sheet and the next but across the forme during a single


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impression—thus, on a page one might see much bleed-through at the top of a leaf and none at the bottom. Sometimes a page-setting was inked enough that the printed page threw offset on other pages when it was folded, when it was stacked, and after it was bound; thus, in CaOHM we find R2v cast offset on N1r, also exchanged reciprocally with Bb8v, and R3r (similarly, CSt's R2v discharged offset to both N2v and Aa1r). Also, the sizing must affect the extent and depth to which a sheet absorbed ink.12 The thickness of a paper stock must affect the degree that moisture is retained (parenthetically, the thicker the paper, the less interference of bleed-through from the opposite side of the sheet). In The Centaur, all partials and cancellantia have the same paper stock as that found in most sheets of the book, one with an "NH" watermark.13 Conclusions about the impact of paper are difficult in part because even within the dominant paper stock the thickness of leaves varies considerably: sometimes one can look through the eighth leaf of a gathering to read the next signature and sometimes one cannot. Another consideration relative to moistness of the paper involves whether the two sides of a sheet were equally dry—if sheets were hung folded over a line as in many depictions, then one side might remain damper and more prone to the exchange of offset, something I have not investigated.

This study can offer a tentative answer to the question whether a damp leaf was more prone to discharge (express) or to receive (absorb) offset. Certainly in exchanges between cancellantia pages N1r, N2v, R2v, U1r, and U1v with M8v and other pages of full sheets that these faced, the cancellantia much more often discharged than received offset (as shown in the table below). The only unreciprocated exchanges between M8v and cancellans N1r involve M8v’s receiving N1r’s offset (from CaAEU and twelve other copies); the only unreciprocated offset between cancellans R2v and R3r involve R3r’s receiving R2v’s offset (from CaOHM and six other copies). Also, N2v received offset from Aa1r only in eight copies with reciprocal exchanges (CaAEU, ICN1, LdU-B, May3, May4, MB, NRU, and Ob), but it transferred its offset to Aa1r in six others (BrP, DLC, KU, May2, NIC, and RPB); in no copies did I note offset moving only from Aa1r to N2v (and, since N2v was a cancel, I would have consistently scrutinized it for offset). Similarly, I noted Aa1r’s receiving offset from R2v (CSt, IU, and OAU) but never did I find R2v’s receiving offset from Aa1r. (The disproportion in these exchanges suggests that the N and R cancellantia were printed well after sheet Aa.) Leaves B1.B8 and B4.B5 from the original printing of the B sheet were often stacked facing the B cancellantia; offset from such reveals the later printed cancellantia more


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often discharged offset to the early printed leaves than received it. For instance, although B1r has reciprocal exchanges with B7v (LdU-B) and B7 + 1v (KU), the only non-reciprocal exchanges involve its receiving offset from B2v (NIC), B7v (CtY, IU, ViWCF), and B7 + 1v (ICN1). B5v unreciprocally transferred offset to B8r in eight copies, yet it never did so to a page of cancellantia; it reciprocally exchanged with B6r or B7r in five copies and received offset from these pages in five others.

Exchanges between the frontispiece and other leaves also suggest damp leaves were more prone to transfer offset than to receive it. It seems likely that the frontispiece was produced outside of Richardson’s shop and, even more likely given the delays caused by Young’s revisions, well before publication (Young had asked Richardson about 11 August 1754 to have it cut [Correspondence, p. 411]). Other than a reciprocal exchange in MH2, no text leaf has been seen to have absorbed the image of the frontispiece, yet the frontispiece received much offset, not only from the title-page A1r (L, NBiSU, NjP) but from B3v in CtY, X8v in MR2, Aa8v in LdU-B, and Bb8v in DLC and RPB. Not surprisingly, the blank recto of the frontispiece received much offset: from B7 + 1v in CaOTU, CLU-C, MH2, O, PSt, and TnU; O8v in NBiSU; Bb1r in LdU-B; Ccir in DLC and RPB; and Dd1v in L, E, and MiU. It is noteworthy that with one exception (NBiSU) only leaves from the final gatherings printed transferred offset to the frontispiece. In NBiSU the frontispiece verso received offset from A1r, and P1r received offset from Dd1 v; thus, partials and cancels stacked close to O8 and the frontispiece probably provided moistness for the irregular exchange.

But the vagaries about inking and paper cannot alone explain which copies have offset. It must be significant that, if there is offset in one of the three printed units with partial gatherings and cancellantia (singletons-Cc sheet, the B cancellantia half-sheet, and the N1.N2 and R1.R2 folds), there is offset usually in the other units: that is true of twenty-four of twenty-eight copies with more than one offset exchange between a page of the partials and cancellantia and pages not adjacent to them, and the remaining four have offset exchanges within two of the units. (The exceptions to this pattern are the five copies noted in footnote 4 that have a single exchange, four of which involve the sheet including the title-page, Dd1, and the cancellantia B3 and U1 — very possibly the final sheet printed.) The frequency of offset (implying dampness at folding) on the three different sheets suggests they were printed concurrently, something possible at a shop with as many presses as Richardson’s and supported by the press figures: the sheet with Cc4 and the partials has press figures 1 on Cc3r and 4 on Cc3v; the half-sheet with B cancellantia has figure 7 on B7 + 1r; and cancellans R2r has figure 2. Also, the propensity either for all the partials in a copy to discharge and receive offset or for none of them to do so confirms what the paper evidence offered in my "Interrelating the Cancellantia" indicated: that all the replacement leaves in a specific copy were from the same original sheets (damp sheets, as distinguished from ones allowed to dry longer). The proportion of copies with that propensity suggests that half the copies were bound up soon after printing. It is easy to imagine the order was to "bind half," but perhaps the interruption for a weekend might have created sufficient time for sheets to dry thoroughly prior to folding. Since


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the second edition was felt likely enough to begin a revised setting prior to the publication of the first edition, no great time duration is likely to exist between those copies first bound up and those bound later.14


Leonard N. Rosenband, in discussing how paper was coated with sizing, notes that it is an important factor in the paper’s absorption (Papermaking in Eighteenth-Century France: Management, Labor, and Revolution at the Montgolfier Mill, 1761–1805 [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2000], pp. 12–13).


All sheets have the same paper with "NH" watermark except for four sheets that have one of three paper stocks with fleur-de-lys watermarks centered on the chain-lines. All these three have chain-lines 25–25.5 mm apart but differ in the shape and the dimensions of the fleur-de-lys’s head, arms, and tail: 17–19, 39–42, 23–25 mm in sheet B; another with flattened head 15.5–17, 32–36, 23–26 mm in E and N; and a third with lanceolate fleur-head, 17, 40–44, 20–22 mm in Q and in many frontispiece leaves.