Overview of the Daily Registers – Codicological Evolution

Codicological Evolution

Bindings. The first registers are bound by a simple vellum cover with a flap and cloth ties to keep the book together. The binding is then covered with green paper, and a rectangular piece of red leather inscribed with gold letters is added to the front and back covers. Some registers which bore the fleur-de-lys shield in the corners of the covers were scratched off during the Revolution. Certain bindings have unfortunately been replaced by modern ones.

Formats. The records are mostly folios, less commonly quartos.

Pages. The accounting records allow us to assume that the actors would buy the folio sheets and then have them bound once the register was complete for the season. It is, however, likely that the binding operation began before they started to fill in the register pages : in fact, many blank pages may be bound with the handwritten pages, for no apparent reason. It is unlikely that they would have left those if the binding had happened after the fact. For reasons of economy, we have not digitized these “extra” pages.

Every register includes a title page bearing “Register of the King's players,” followed by the theater season as well as the address of the printer. The royal coat of arms is affixed onto this page.

The records have the common characteristic of addressing the information through a journalistic angle : each page has a corresponding date and theatrical session whose characteristics are recorded on the front of the folio. The back of the previous folio may include variable information : composition of the troupe and distribution of shares for their compensation, details on the conditions of the show or costs relating to the performance.

The front pages bearing information about the performance usually include a printed form with a partial date, ticket categories, the total daily income, the expenses, the actors' share. This “form” varies over time according to the modifications made to the architecture of the performance spaces, to the creation of new types of seats and to the increasing complexity of the pricing system. The content also divides into several sets of registers in the eighteenth century, the income being separated from the the expenditures, which then become the subject of a different set of registers. We also reproduce virtual facsimiles of the expense and casting registers on this site.

Agathe Sanjuan

(Trans. Marie de Azevedo)

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