It is remarkable, says Mr. Douce, that neither public nor private museums should furnish any specimens of these 133table-books, which seem to have been very common in Shakspeare’s time; nor does any attempt appear to have been made towards ascertaining exactly the materials of which they were composed.
I happen to possess a table-book of Shakspeare’s time. It is a little book, nearly square, being three inches wide, and something less than four in length, bound stoutly in calf, and fastening with four strings of broad, strong, brown tape. The title as follows: ” Writing Tables, with a Kalendar for xxiiii yeeres, with sundrie necessarie rules. The Tables made by Robert Triplet. London. Imprinted for the Company of Stationers.” The tables are inserted immediately after the almanack.
At first sight they appear like what we call asses-skin, the colour being precisely the same, but the leaves are thicker; whatever smell they may have had is lost, and there is no gloss upon them. It might be supposed that the gloss has 134been worn off, but this is not the case, for most of the tables have never been written on. Some of the edges being worn, shew that the middle of the leaf consists of paper; the composition is laid on with great nicety. A silver style was used, which is sheathed in one of the covers, and which produces an impression as distinct, and as easily obliterated as that of a black lead pencil. The tables are interleaved with common paper.