A foldable chapbook

The product of the early modern printing press is not the page, or the book, but the sheet. A book might consist of several sheets of paper folded into quires or gatherings, or just one. What revolutions and reversals make the pages either end up facing each other or separated by several other pages?

Here’s a little book in the format called duodecimo. This book of twelve leaves or 24 pages is printable on one (double-sided) sheet of A4 paper, so it makes a really tiny book. The imposition plan used here comes from Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (1972) p. [101].

How to make your book:

  • download the PDF ‘Rags to Riches: the story of paper’
  • print on A4 paper, double-sided
  • work out how to fold the paper so that pages follow in the correct sequence. HINT: you will need to make one cut before you start folding
  • when the folding and arranging is done, trim or cut the outer edges of the pages so that they can turn freely

The Mary and Ann Hogarth trade card is from the John Johnson collection, Trades and Professions 6(47a); the woman spinning is from Bodleian MS. Douce 195, fol. 60v.

The great project at the Illinois State University, Shakespeare in Sheets, provides downloadable facsimile sheets of quarto editions of Shakespeare’s plays, for you to fold.

The Folger Library shows the imposition plan for a quarto with more downloadable quartos to fold.