>>With a great increase on the number of versals needed in a printed
>>edition, many simply wouldn't be put in, and the large space was left

By which I mean that there are suddenly many more books to be
illuminated than ever before -- spaces left for versals simply were
left untouched. "Would you care for hand-painted versals three months
from now, sir, or a plain edition today?"

>>Economics being economics, and even with the huge number of scribes
>>and illuminators cast into the art-bin of history, the habit never
>>returned of setting the paragraph off with a versal, and the
>>paragraph indent soon became standard.
>The artist lacking the time to draw in the ornamental initial - would
>that not be the rare exception?

Not at all. Even the best of the finest manuscripts have pages that
seem unfinished -- Book of Kells, Trés Riche Heures de Duc de Berry,
etc. have pages where the artist clearly intended to return to the
page. Les Heures de Jeanne D'Évereux has pages of lovely silverpoint
drawings that are washed with color in the background fields but not
in the figures; the artist there knew when to stop, before muddling
the drawings.

The pages with missing ornaments are rarely shown in reproduction, huh.

>And marking off a paragraph - albeit
>only a selective one, not each one - with a large initial, isn't that
>a practice still in much use?

Well yeah, but not nearly as often as before printing; we're lucky to
get a chapter opening with a mis-aligned big letter. Though, the
Times (New York) still uses drop caps in its editorial pages, the
Cheltenham aside. (I miss the Latin and Bookman; never cottoned to

>Am I misunderstanding your remarks,

Oh, I'm just blithering, as usual :-)
Gary Munch