The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

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

A new month, a new year, a new mystery for you to enjoy! This month’s crocodile might be immediately recognizable to some of you, but perhaps not to others, and sometimes it’s fun to take a fresh look even at things you think you know.

your crocodile in need of identification

Chime in with your guesses—whimsical and practical—in the comments below, and come back later this week to learn more about this image.


  • Is it the fore-edge of a book with its chain (to attach it to the shelves and keep it from being stolen) in the center?

  • i don’t think it’s the fore-edge of a book, nor the middle part to be metallic.
    I guess it might be a close view of the head of a book with dos-à-dos binding . common prayer book + new testament ? early seventennth century ?

    • That was my initial thought, that the central object looks like a covered board between two textblocks. Will be very interested in the reveal, and also to see more of the gauffering!

  • And Bruxer’s got it! It’s the head of an early 17th-century Book of Psalms and a Psalter bound dos-à-dos (the fore-edge is the front edge; the head is the top edge). The photo shows a detail of the two gauffered textblocks divided by the lower board. (All that will make more sense after my next post if you’re not familiar with dos-à-dos bindings.) And Lydia’s right that the board is covered, and that’s what is giving it that metallic look—but perhaps we need to guess at what that covering might be?

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