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The 1616 Folio (F1): Textual Essay

David Gants

(c) LONDON | Printed by William | Stanſby. | An o D. 1616.

For most of his career, William Stansby operated as what R. B. McKerrow termed a ‘trade printer’, i.e. someone who contracted printing jobs financed by others. Because such jobs typically involved small profit margins, trade printers often worked on many more projects concurrently than did those McKerrow called ‘printer-publishers’, who engaged in fewer projects but saw greater returns on investment. In the mid-1610s, trade printers like Stansby and Thomas Snodham ran among the most productive houses in London, while printer-publishers like William and Isaac Jaggard ranked near the bottom of output totals. Only businesses that held lucrative patents like the King’s Printing Office or Adam Islip were more productive than the trade printers.

High productivity requires competent management as well as a large and diverse stock of type. During the period when F1 was at press, a brief examination of how Stansby deployed his resources shows his capacity to distribute work across a number of different founts of type:

Edition Brevier Long Primer    Pica English Great Primer
Year Sheets Roman Roman Blackletter Roman Blackletter Roman Roman
1615 630 12 322 184 1057 2172 1822 792
1616 799 547 302 2 3242 1404 3299 118
1617 1095 0 399 0 5170 19 6949 233
Total 2524 559 1023 186 9569 3595 12,070 1143

Fig. 1: Stansby Output 1615-1617

[Although F1 was published in late 1616, Stansby’s 1617 output is included because many of the larger projects issued in 1617 were begun in the previous year. The composition totals are expressed in 1000s of ens of type set, or k/ens.]