Tristram Shandy

Wed Jun 5 19:01:37 EDT 2002

Here's the info I have on Tristram Shandy in connection with 
the marbled paper:

The first printing (1928) includes a piece of genuine 
marbled paper tipped in facing p. 202.  Marbled paper is 
made by floating colors on the surface of a tray of water, 
combing the colors to create a pattern, then gently laying a 
sheet of paper over the surface to transfer the pattern to 
the paper.  The colors float because carageenan (sp.?) is 
added to the water; carageenan is a seaweed derivative that 
is also used as a thickening agent in ice cream and other 
food products.  Each sheet of handmade marbled paper is 
unique.  I don't know how many copies there were in the 
first printing, but the ML would have used many sheets of 
marbled paper.  My guess is that they got around 30 to 40 
inserts per sheet.  This accounts for the varied designs of 
marbled paper in different copies.

I've seen copies of the first printing with a 4-page list of 
titles at the end of the volume and copies without the 
list.  This is a rare example of the list not being printed 
as part of the last gathering of text.  The list is what 
bibliographers call an "inserted fold" ... the blank page 
[592] is the last page of the last gathering, and the 4-page 
ML list was tipped in.  I guess they figured as long as a 
sheet of marbled paper was being tipped in they might as 
well tip in a ML list as well.  I don't know whether there's 
any priority between copies with the list and copies without 

Klopfer wrote in June 1928 when the book was published that 
the marbled paper, which was customary in finer editions of 
Tristram Shandy, was "the height of luxury."  It was a 
luxury the ML abandoned after the first printing.  No 
subsequent printing I've seen includes a tipped in piece of 
marbled paper.

When the ML reset the text of Tristram Shandy in the mid 
1940s, p. 235 was printed with a marbled pattern.  Not "the 
height of luxury" but an adequate substitute.  Any edition 
of Tristram Shandy that includes marbled paper (genuine or 
simulated) should have it facing the end of Part III, 
Chapter 36, where Sterne refers to "the next marbled page."  
The text of the reset ML edition ends on p. 674 as opposed 
to p. 591 for all printings of the first setting.  The 
earliest printing I've seen of the reset text with simulated 
marbled paper has a fall 1947 jacket.  These plates remained 
in use until the ML discontinued Tristram Shandy in 1970.  
An introduction by Bergen Evans was added in the early 
1950s; the earliest copy I've seen with the Evans 
introduction has a fall 1952 jacket.

I'll be grateful if anyone can amplify or correct this 


Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
Library and Information Science Program
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
aa3401 at 

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