crocodile mystery manuscripts “What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?”: February 2014 January 31, 2014 | By The Collation Today’s crocodile mystery comes from the manuscript collection. What is it? What does it depict? Why might it be interesting or significant? Answers to any or all of these questions most welcome. What am I? Click to enlarge. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) You May Also Like: Don Quixote on an Early Paper Cover By: Caroline Duroselle-Melish “What manner o’thing is your crocodile?” August 2016 By: The Collation The Collation is the author used for "crocodile mystery" posts, Q&A's with Folger staff, and other general posts. 5 Comments This is a watermark depicting the Royal Arms of England, surrounded by the circlet of the Order of the Garter. This version of the arms with “France Modern” (i.e. three fleurs de lis) in the first and fourth quarters, was used for most of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The use of the royal crown as the crest (i.e. above the shield) dates it to the reign of Henry VIII or later. Given the date of 1583 in the last line of the text, we might speculate that the paper was made for the use of Elizabeth I, or alternatively the Royal Household, or Government. Reply makes sense. I was looking at it but couldn’t figure it out. thanks. Reply Indeed, it is a watermark of the royal arms encircled by the Garter! If anyone else has further details, please chime in. And stay tuned for next week’s post for more information. Oh, and the upside down date in the text is actually 1588. Reply Yes, I wasn’t entirely confident of my reading of the year, but the decade was sufficient to date the document to the reign of Elizabeth I. Using the correct date, the Gravell Watermark Archive ( http://www.gravell.org/Record.php?&action=GET&RECID=246 ) reveals an apparently identical watermark from manuscripts in the Folger’s holdings – the papers of the Bagot family of Staffordshire. The Hamnet record for the Bagot papers (http://shakespeare.folger.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=230544) shows that the collection has been digitised and can be viewed on Luna ( http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/7y6668 ) Scrolling down the “When” section of the “Narrow Search” pane on Luna I found a single entry for February 22, 1588/89. Unfortunately clicking on this returned zero results. Since Luna uses the / character to separate parts of the URL it treated the second year as a separate search term: “Search Results: Call_number equal to ‘L.a.*’ and When equal to ‘February 22, 1588′ and When equal to ’89’ ” Fortunately the Hamnet record also lists an online finding aid to the collection ( http://titania.folger.edu/findingaids/dfobagot.xml ) Using this I was able to ascertain that the document in question had the call number L.a.935. Clicking on the convenient link to Luna in that section of the finding aid brings up a document which matches the upside-down text in the image ( http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/jo023o ) The document is a letter from Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary of State to Elizabeth I, to to Thomas Gresley and Richard Bagot, concerning some accusations made by the bailiff of the Manor of Burton. The Hamnet record helpfully provides the additional context that Richard Bagot was steward to several royal manors. The Gravell database entry shows that the paper was apparently made by John Spilman (or Spielman) who in 1588 was granted a Crown Lease on two mills in Dartford, which he used to produce the first commercially available good quality white paper in England (another reason why it was important to use the correct year in my searching!). In 1589 he was granted letters patent giving him a monopoly on the production of such paper. He was also jeweller to Elizabeth I and James I & VI. (Source: http://www.dartfordarchive.org.uk/technology/paper.shtml ) These royal connections may explain the use of the royal arms as a watermark. However given that Walsingham was the author of the letter, my original speculation that the paper was made for the Queen or her court could still be correct. Reply Heather’s answer and further explication of what Philip Allfrey worked out in these comments is now posted! Reply Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.