November 19, 2014
by Heather Wolfe
1 Comment

So much for goats, or, cute creatures in coats of arms

John Guillim’s partial manuscript draft of A Display of Heraldry (ca. 1610) was featured in our recently closed exhibition, “Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England.” We showed an opening depicting “Fishes skynned” and “Crusted fishes” and compared it to a similar opening in the printed Display of Heraldry (London, 1611).

Examples of suitable fish for coats of arms, both "crusted" and "skinned."

Examples of suitable fish for coats of arms, both crusted and skinned. Folger MS V.b.171, fols. 79v-80r.

This was a difficult decision, since the fish were competing against so many other completely wonderful monsters, mammals, birds, minerals, plants, trees, fruits, stars, elements, and humors—as well as buildings, clothing, tools, weapons, and other “artificial” charges.

Below are a few of the animals and insects from Guillim’s draft, beginning with a unicorn (which in my household is definitely considered a real animal). Eventually the manuscript will be digitized and transcribed in full and you’ll be able to see and search all images and text.

IMG_20141119_105651 unicorn

“So muche for Goates.” Now to unicorns.


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November 13, 2014
by Abbie Weinberg
1 Comment

Research round-up

One of the best bits of my job as a reference librarian here at the Folger (oh, who am I kidding? They’re all “best bits”) is answering research questions from scholars who are not on site. I really enjoy being someone’s hands and eyes, to look at our collection materials when they cannot. These questions have sent me off in directions I never would have dreamed of; there is no better way to learn a collection than to use it, and I am certainly getting the opportunity to explore the depth and breadth of our collection. Here are a few of the research questions I have been allowed to delve into recently. Many thanks to all of the researchers mentioned herein for their gracious permission to post this!

Henry Wotton’s The Elements of Architecture, 1624

Richard Foster, the Fellows’ Librarian at Winchester College in England, wrote to us asking if someone could take a look at sig. L4v of Wotton’s The Elements of Architecture, since it was noted in the Hamnet record that there were manuscript corrections to the text. Indeed there are, and so I dutifully took a picture and sent it off, not thinking too much of the request—until I got Mr. Foster’s reply. Continue Reading →

November 6, 2014
by Erin Blake
0 comments

Folger Tooltips: The limits of “Set Limits” in Hamnet

Following up on last month’s post about the new-and-improved “Limit location” in Hamnet, the one that lets you quickly limit your search to one of four locations, including just Vault material, I thought I should say a few words about the limits of the “Set Limits” feature.

Set limits first

Hamnet display with "set limits" link circled

When you go to a Search screen, the system very helpfully puts the cursor in the text box, prompting you to start typing. So, naturally, you start typing search terms, picking options from the drop-downs, and feeling very proud of yourself for knowing just the right combination of And, Or, and Not to get what you want. Then, working from top to bottom, left to right, you see the “Set Limits” link at the lower right, and decide to make your search even more accurate by limiting it to just Vault material, and just French-language material, and just material created between 1550 and 1625, or whatever, so you click “Set Limits.”  Continue Reading →

November 4, 2014
by Sarah Werner
4 Comments

Dalí as you like him

The change of pace in this month’s crocodile mystery is thanks to Salvador Dalí. Surely you, like our commenters, recognized those elongated legs. And if I’d shared the companion image, you’d have guessed that immediately as well.

Dali's backdrop for the court scenes

Dalí’s backdrop for the court scenes in Rosalinda

Dali's backdrop for the forest scenes

Dalí’s backdrop for Rosalinda‘s forest scenes

But what’s he doing in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s collections? Sharing his designs for As You Like It, obviously!

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October 30, 2014
by The Collation
4 Comments

“What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: November 2014

Perhaps the question for this month’s mystery is less about crocodiles and more about elephants:

What manner of thing is this and what is it doing at the Folger Shakespeare Library?

What manner of thing is this and what is it doing at the Folger Shakespeare Library?

It’s been a while since we’ve done a mystery along these lines, so enjoy letting your imagination run free: What is this and what’s it doing in the collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library?

As always, leave your comments, questions, and brainstorming below and come back next week for the reveal!

Update (November 4, 2014): All is revealed in “Dalí as you like him“!

October 28, 2014
by Kathleen Lynch
1 Comment

Ohel or Dod? Ideal copies and messy print

When is a repair to a title page more like a clue to a bibliographical puzzle?

An altered title page

detail of an altered title page

This question has intrigued me since, some years ago, I first consulted a Folger copy of John Rogers’s 1653 Ohel or Beth-shemesh. A Tabernacle for the Sun: Or Irenicum Evangelicum. An Idea of Church-Discipline, in the Theorick and Practick Parts (135- 312q). The Folger Institute’s recent faculty weekend seminar, “Narratives of Conversion in Reformation Europe, ca. 1550-1700,” co-directed by Simon Ditchfield and Helen Smith, gave me reason to return to the puzzle when, in one session, we were examining relevant Folger holdings. This book was of interest to the seminar for providing one of the first printed collections of Protestant sectarian conversion narratives circulated in English. I use the term “book” loosely, for Ohel is one of my favorite examples of how difficult it can be to establish stable and finite limits for a book. It is hard to know exactly what constitutes Ohel, even though there’s a pretty full body of evidence to consider.  Continue Reading →

October 24, 2014
by Sarah Werner
0 comments

A carousel of tragedy

We are used to thinking of productions of Shakespeare’s plays as creating new works of art that demonstrate the vitality of the centuries-old drama. But in the right hands, books can achieve the same effect. Emily Martin’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, published by Naughty Dog Press in 2012 and acquired by the Folger last year (ART Vol. e316), blends together Shakespeare’s play with our lives today and the paper presence of a book with the theatrical drama of the stage.

At first glance, Martin’s book looks just like a book, although looking at the spine suggests that there’s something unusual afoot.

front cover of Emily Martin's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

front cover of Emily Martin’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

2014-10-22 12.38.06

spine of Martin’s book

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October 21, 2014
by Heather Wolfe
4 Comments

19th-century faces in a 16th-century manuscript

A mother and her two daughters unexpectedly greet you when you open the binding of Folger MS V.a.174.

Albumen print of a mother and two daughters affixed to the front pastedown of Folger MS V.a.174, a 1576 manuscript of the Book of Common Prayer.

albumen print of a mother and two daughters affixed to the front pastedown of Folger MS V.a.174, a 1576 manuscript of the Book of Common Prayer

Turn to the back of the volume and there they are again.

This time with the youngest daughter in the middle.

this time with the youngest daughter in the middle

Who are these late-nineteenth-century women, and why is their image affixed in perpetuity to the Elizabethan binding of a 1576 manuscript version of the Book of Common Prayer?  Continue Reading →

October 16, 2014
by Abbie Weinberg
8 Comments

Shorthand and snark: An unexpected journey through Virgil

I joined the Folger just over two months ago, and one of the most delightful things about my new job as the Reference and Outreach Specialist (aside from the fact that I get to work at the Folger!) is that I have time and resources to start digging into my own research again.

I am particularly interested in how classical texts have come forward to us through time. I was inspired by Sarah’s recent post on the Stanhope marginalia, in conjunction with the availability of early printed books in Latin in the Folger’s holdings, to start taking a closer look at the annotations made on such works. I somewhat arbitrarily picked the works of Virgil to investigate first and have been slowly making my way through the various editions in our collection.

When the 1701 Publii Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, et Æneis, ad optimorum exemplarium fidem recensita (216– 984f) came up on my list, I didn’t make particular note of it. It was the largest book I’d looked at and the most recent, but I was casting my net as wide as possible, so I didn’t remark on it.  Continue Reading →

October 14, 2014
by Sarah Werner
2 Comments

Finding women in the printing shop

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day that celebrates not only the achievements of Ada Lovelace—the 19th-century mathematician and computing pioneer—but the achievements of all women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths. It’s a chance not only to encourage women to enter STEM fields, but to acknowledge the sometimes forgotten of women’s past achievements in these fields.

For a few years now, those of us interested in the hand-press period have used Ada Lovelace Day as an opportunity to celebrate early women printers. This year, I thought I’d describe an exercise I’ve done with students that not only introduces them to some basic book trade research techniques but surprises them with the appearance of women in those records.

title page of Jocelin's The Mother's Legacie

title page of Elizabeth Jocelin’s The Mothers Legacie, here in its third impression

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