Early modern literature, in search of stable orders of things in a time of drastic changes, is teeming with material objects, the stuff of everyday life. Thus, it gives access to “great topics” of the early modern age, such as the rapidly emerging and mutating capitalism, the provisional and shifting constructions of literary subjects in relation to the objects around them. This study traces the cultural biography of a material object, the most splendid edifice built in Elizabethan London: the Royal Exchange. It then analyses the rhetorical materialisations of the sonneteering vogue, with a special emphasis on the material history of the English sonnet between a manuscript and a print culture. Its last main object is Shakespeare’s Falstaff, whose massive body and powerful rhetoric are centres of early modern material orders and subversions, both in the histories and in the comedy of the ‘Merry Wives’. A conclusion applies the findings to the (im)material rhetoric of Thomas Nashe.