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

Another month, another Crocodile Mystery. What might this be?

Mystery Image

As always, please use the Comments section for wild guesses, brilliant insights, etc.

Author: The Collation

The Collation is the author used for "crocodile mystery" posts, Q&A's with Folger staff, and other general posts.


  1. I’ve heard of books and papers being used to pass coded messages made from pinpricks in the paper.

  2. I think it’s sand covered mussels.

  3. I see tiny stiches of a black thread, at the back of an embroidered book cover.
    my guess is most certainly erroneous, ‘mais quand même’ …

  4. It looks like some sort of device using punctures along a line to allow powder or ink to pass through and transfer the outline of a drawing to another surface.

  5. Tom Reedy’s answer is verrrrry close….

  6. I think it’s parchment that’s been eaten by the parchment mites that gave Niles Crane his allergy.

  7. I don’t know how “verrrrry close” to a stencil it is, but it reminds me of some old lampshades I’ve seen.

  8. Tom’s idea was my first thought too, except that I can’t see a cartoon/outline image that is being transferred and the pricks are obviously coming from the side we’re looking at. Hmmm… Is it maybe a piece of lining/pattern paper from a patchwork shape or onlay of some kind? or a gilding pattern?

  9. My other guess is a tattoo pattern. Would book covers have been decorated that way?

  10. It looks like a man on a horse with a lance when rotated 180 degrees, but then I’ve seen camels and whales in clouds.

  11. I don’t know about camels and whales, but I just now happened to see Carol’s sand-covered mussels! If you look at it just right, each spot becomes the tip of a blackish-purple mussel sticking up out of the sand, like the mussels in this picture, only more spread-out.

    But it’s not sand-covered mussels. It *does* have to do with punctures and transferring images, but it’s not the device that powder would have passed through…

  12. I can’t imagine anything closer to a stencil than the very paper on which the pattern has been transferred .

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