[SCA-Dance] How do we know Playford is largely proper?

C. Timar cctimar at member.ams.org
Wed Feb 1 13:39:58 EST 2012

In the 21st century, it is easy to forget the 17th century printing
process, but it has been researched extensively.  (Check the research
on Shakespeare's FIrst Folio, for example.)

Playford wrote a manuscript, which he sent to a printer.  It must have
had diagrams, but not necessarily with the same symbols.

The printer found two symbols (circle and crescent) that he could
easily make (because he already had a font that included them) and
decided to use those in the diagrams.

The printer employed typesetters to set the text, music, and diagrams.
 Probably some of the typesetters did not dance, and they may not have
understood the significance of the diagrams that they were setting.
(Only one of them had set the explanatory page, after all.)  Two
different typesetters may have had different ideas about the
significance of the direction of the crescents.  One may have
interchanged the two symbols.

It is possible that the diagrams may have been re-used from one page
to another, if the typesetter thought he could save some time that

It does not appear to have been the custom for the author to
proof-read the printed text.

(The pages were probably proof-read by somebody, but that person may
have been used to only checking the text - how much did he care about
the diagrams?  And even when the forms were corrected, the pages
printed before the correction were often bound and sold anyway.)

This all means that a lot of errors may have arisen during printing.

    -- Charles, the clerk
       cctimar at member.ams.org

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